The Rosenbauer Group has not always been one of the largest distributors of fire apparatus and employer of nearly 3000 workers. Rosenbauer started from modest roots and had to work hard to become the company it is today.
Johann Rosenbauer, the founding father of the company, started the Linz Volunteer Fire Brigade with a few friends from a gymnastics club and began selling fire fighting basics in 1866. Johann’s son, Konrad, was the commander of the Linz Volunteer Fire Brigade and at the beginning of the 20th century, expanded the company’s trading activities to include the production of pumps and hoses. In the 1920s, Rosenbauer began to establish a name as a fire fighting vehicle manufacturer and since then has launched innovation after innovation onto the market, thus capturing a reputation as the innovation and technology leader in the fire fighting equipment branch.
During the 1990s, the company evolved from being an exporting crafts enterprise to a global concern with industrial manufacturing. Moreover, the systematic internationalization of the past fifteen years has seen the development of new Group companies, e.g. in the USA, Singapore, China, and the opening of additional markets. During this phase, the workforce has virtually doubled in size and roughly half of the Group’s personnel are now employed outside Austria.
Today, Rosenbauer is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of fire fighting vehicles and is represented by a sales and customer services network in over 100 countries. The Group’s core competence lies in mobile fire and disaster protection, particularly with regard to the development and production of the very latest fire fighting systems and firefighting vehicle superstructures. Rosenbauer produces a complete portfolio of fire fighting vehicles according to both European and US standards and provides the fire services with a full range of equipment through the combination of vehicles with extinguishing systems and an extensive equipment program.
In 1994, Rosenbauer began an effort to create a presence in the North American market. One year later, Rosenbauer gained its first foothold in the North American market. Today, the partnership, Rosenbauer America, consists of four companies at three locations and has become one of the company in the North American fire fighting equipment sector.
By 1995, General Safety Equipment became Rosenbauer’s first partner in the US. The company, which is based in Wyoming, Minnesota, was founded in 1929 by Kevin Kirvida’s, the current president, grandfather. General Safety firmly established its tradition of manufacturing top-of-the-line apparatus in 1950, when General Safety’s production work for military bases received the U.S. Army-Navy’s E Award, the highest recognition given to civilian companies. Over the course of the next four decades, the company’s reputation continues to grow. General Safety now produces pumpers, aerials, airport crash vehicles and industrial units. They are regarded as one of America’s leading providers of finely crafted, customized fire apparatus. Today, it forms Rosenbauer Minnesota.
Further strengthening continued in 1998 when Central States Fire joined the partnership. The company, which was started by Harold and Helen Boer, began as a modest welding and vehicle refurbishment business in the mid-1970s. Central States Fire was founded in 1982 when Harold, Chief of the Lyons Volunteer Fire Department, was asked to equip an apparatus unit for the department. In less than five years, the company was producing 50 trucks annually for regional fire departments. Today, the company is characterized by industrial production that is strongly oriented towards the fulfillment of individual customer wishes. When it became a partner and officially created Rosenbauer America in 1998, Central States was already active in 32 states, and today, Rosenbauer America has virtually full national coverage. In 2016, Harold & Helen retired from the day-to-day management activities of Rosenbauer South Dakota. The Rosenbauer America board named Scott Oyen, Chief Executive Officer of Rosenbauer South Dakota.
Two years later, in February 2000, the team was further enlarged with RK Aerials. The company, which is located in Fremont, Nebraska, was founded in 1988 by Rob and Pam Kreikemeier who manufactured the group's American aerial products. It is one of the few companies in the US to not only offer steel ladders, but also hot-dipped galvanized versions, which have a far longer service life. Production began with only four employees in a 5,000 square foot building. Today, Rosenbauer Aerials has a total of 98,200 sq ft of production space.
Rosenbauer obtained further key technology with the chassis production for the Panther ARFF vehicle. Since 2003, the chassis have been manufactured at Rosenbauer Motors. In 2017, the NEW Panther introduced during 2015 Interschutz world firefighting expo made its debut in the North American market.
For the first time in 2004, the four US companies appeared at the largest North American fire service trade fair, the FDIC (Fire Department Instructor’s Conference) together under the “Rosenbauer” umbrella brand. This sent out the clear and unequivocal message to the market that the exhibit was being presented by one of the largest suppliers of fire fighting equipment in the world, which is able to cover every fire service need. In retrospective, this was a type of ignition because since then, numerous new sales partners have opted for Rosenbauer America, and the market share in the US has been enlarged annually. Consequently, Rosenbauer has established itself among the leaders in the North America fire fighting equipment market.
Today, the effort to expand into the North American fire market launched in 1995 has been successful venture. In addition, the Rosenbauer American partnership has also gained international competitiveness, as the US subsidiaries not only complete production for the domestic market from Canada to Mexico, but also supply the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America. Rosenbauer is now able to quote wherever contracts for fire fighting vehicles according to the NFPA standard are put out to tender.