Foundationin a Munich courtyard On 8 July 1935, Josef Liebhart founded SALEWA GmbH in Munich. During WW2 the company produced various leather and textile products, first of all rucksacks with tubular steel frames and ski poles of hazelwood. With the great demand for ski polesin the winter of 1952/53, SALEWA made its breakthrough into the sports sector.
The beginnings as a mountain sport supplier In 1955 SALEWA supported an Andes expedition in the Cordillera Blanca and thus established itself in mountain sport. Ice equipment, ice picks and crampons were added to the product line of the SALEWA mountain sports division. In 1962 a fully-adjustable lightweight crampon was developed and manufactured. The company made its first claim to leadership in equipment. In 1978 decisive steps towards expansion were taken: the product range was extended to include functional clothing. In 1979 SALEWA presented all its products with the same logo for the first time: the SALEWA eagle was created as that logo and thereafter stood as the symbol of incomparable quality.
SALEWA conquered the international markets After SALEWA Austria was founded in 1982, the management took the international structure and export connections all over Europe, the USA, Japan and even as far as New Zealand. The Italian importer Heiner Oberrauch and his Ober Alp Group took over the SALEWA brand and led it to success. The seven main European markets of Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Poland, Switzerland and Spain are managed through their own companies. In a further 30 additional countries, the SALEWA group works with agents and importers.”
Leadership of both brand and productThe SALEWA brand reached a new dimension at the beginning of the new millennium. This was evident in the creation of the company’s own squad of athletes, the SALEWA alpineXtrem Team, and also in the development and ongoing improvement of top, quality products. For Winter 2009/2010, SALEWA mountain sports brand presents a clothing range without parallel on the market: alpineXtrem Pro. The alpineXtrem pro squad presented the result after countless hours of development and testing, hundreds of revisions to the design, after hard testing at the north face of the Eiger, on the granite and ice walls of the Taku Towers in Alaska, and also high climbs on the Ama Dablam in Nepal: eight men’s models, six women’s models, and three unisex, developed by professionals for professionals, manufactured for the ultimate daily and professional usage on the mountain.
1935: The SALEWA story started on July 8, 1935 when Josef Liebhart, the director of Munich’s Cooperative for Saddlers and Tapestry Handlers registered a sister corporation for Saddler and Leather Wares: SA (Sattler/saddler) LE (Leder/leather) WA (Waren/wares), and SALEWA’s name was born. The company’s original products included leather transmission belts and various fittings for horses.
1939: This year SALEWA produced a large variety of articles in cloth and leather combinations, the first rucksack with a steel frame, and ski poles from hazelnut wood and later of light-weight metals.
1945: Economic survival was far from easy in the conditions that followed WW2, but the American military government ordered thousands of mattresses, as a part of a program for giving work to jobless refugees.
1948: SALEWA and whole of Western Germany found a new lease on life in the currency reform that went into effect on June 21, 1948. But nothing was easy, since wages were still very low. For a number of years, the company’s most profitable products were the camera cases produced for Agfa.
1952: The first breakthrough into the sports sector took place in winter, when demand for ski sticks really took off. At SALEWA, overtime shifts were worked with great commitment. SALEWA also started its own retail business at this time. This sold SILVRETTA bindings, Norwegian HICKORY skis, ski equipment, ski wax, sunglasses and workshop equipment.
1953: In addition to rucksacks, the company’s production program also made a place for leather soccer balls and motorcycle saddlebags. Ski poles grew even more important as the principle source of income.
1955: SALEWA supported the Andes expedition Hermann Huber, later SALEWA managing director for many years, in the Cordillera Blanca, and thus established itself in Alpine sports. The large ANDES Rucksack with its flexible internal frame was developed especially for this expedition. Ice equipment, ice picks and crampons became part of the SALEWA Alpine sports division.
1956: SALEWA opened a small ski factory and manufactured the junior ski brand SPERBER. In the same year, a decision was made to collaborate with the German manufacturer EDELRIED in the alpine rope sector.
1962: The development and production of the fully adjustable SALEWA Classic light crampon made for a decisive step forward. This patented crampon set an entirely new standard, and remained one of SALEWA’s most successful articles fo years to come.
1964: All export markets were opened up for SALEWA. The brand enjoyed global recognition as the leading innovator in Alpine sports equipment. SALEWA invented the tubular ice screw - a product which has now become an industry standard.
1970: SALEWA pushed ahead with advances in rucksack technology with the enduring, highly successful MONT BLANC. The model came with an early „modular system“. SALEWA invented the hollow tube carabiner, which became a new standard for lightweight products. SALEWA achieved a dominant market position in the Alpine sports equipment sector.
1975: An important change in direction: SALEWA moved from being a purely Alpine sports specialist to becoming a complete supplier for outdoor activities like trekking and hiking.
1978: SALEWA launched the Sierra dome tent in the market. Its successor Sierra Leone, constantly updated, is still today one of the most popular and best-selling lightweight trekking tents on the market In the same year, SALEWA was one of the first suppliers to feature fabrics using Gore-tex membrane. SALEWA also pioneered high quality down products from the People’s Republic of China, which were a great market success.
1979: The SALEWA eagle logo was created, and henceforth symbolised the quality of the products.
1980: A record year with a 40% increase in sales. Clothing made from fleece is produced for the first time, and this immediately became a major sales success.
1982: Intense product development and the selection of production sites throughout the world became essential to the development, introduction and market success of SALEWAs product line. The structure of the company grew ever more international, as shown by its exports to the whole of Europe, the United States, Japan, and as far afield as New Zealand.
1983: Another success story presented itself on the Italian market, thanks to SALEWAs alliance with Heinrich Oberrauch and Siegfried Messner of OBER ALP, Bolzano. SALEWA Italy was able to turn the trends of the market in its best advantage.
1985: Siegfried Messner met his death in a tragic accident, struck by lighting on Stabeler Turm. Mountain guide Edy Gänsbacher became Sales and Marketing Director, and SALEWA established a clear lead on the Italian market.
1986: This was the period of a fine collaboration with Reinhold Messner and Kurt Albert. Numerous new ideas were tested on expeditions, to maintain SALEWAs status as a guiding force. Quality remains its first principle.
1988: The Munich HQ moves to Aschheim, just to the east of the city, where more space was available for product development, sales, marketing, and warehousing.
1990: In April, Heiner Oberrauch and his Oberalp group took over management and control of the SALEWA brand.
1993: The death of Hans Lettenberger, a senior companys manager since 1982, also marked the passing of a piece of SALEWA history. Stephan Guter took his place as Marketing Director and revitalized the market for light outdoor activities. The first helmet with a double structure, KÄPPY, was produced, at a weight of only 260 g. Lightweight thinking became a fundamental part of a new SALEWA concept.
1994: The motto „half weight - double resistance“ was defined as the research objective. With some products, SALEWA managed to halve the weight and also increase the resistance and durability This was the result of collaboration with universities and research institutes.
1995: The collapse of the iron curtain opened new horizons in the east. SALEWA opened distribution in Russia with a joint company, gave its name to the Czech distributor SALEWA Czech s.r.o. for strategic marketing reasons, and set up distribution in Greece, Norway, Spain, and Slovenia, which introduced SALEWA products to a wide groupof alpine sports entusiasts around Europe.
1996: A new concept for the carrying system of alpine rucksacks, the Airmat System, was developed. Thin sheets of this material are also used by Mercedes Benz for the backing of the seats in some of its most prestigious models.
1997: The ATTC fixed rope route carabiner was developed and this revolutionised fixed rope route climbing. Safety was maximised and product handling was greatly simplified.
1998: SALEWA was one of the first companies in the sector to recognise the opportunities of the internet and launched the web site www.salewa.it
1999: SALEWA took over the German binding specialist SILVRETTA and invested in a relaunch. The first result was that the new Easy Go 555 binding was launched. SALEWA began collaborating closely with the Swiss air rescue service REGA.
2000: SALEWA is claiming European leadership in mountaineering and cooperates with the best mountaineers and mountaineering schools.
2001: SALEWA picked up on the trend for lightweight products back in 1994, when its research and development had focused on the concept of “half weight – double resistance”. Now the company stepped up its research activities developing leading products included the ultra light Helium helmet (250 g), Sub 33 karabiner (33g) and the Ultra Jacket (250g).
2002: The economic crisis after 9/11 caused a turmoil in the outdoor industry, however SALEWA used the occasion to set itself new goals and increasingly focused its attention on consumers needs. The ability to offer complete solution for alpine sports was supported thanks to constant innovation and working with the best partners in the market. In this way it succeeded in paving the way for the future.
2003: SALEWA continues its success story and founds companies in France and Iberica, covering Spain, Andorra, and Portugal. Finally the mountaineering and outdoor specialist is present with affiliate companies in Alpine countries.
2005: SALEWA is also breaking new ground when it comes to fabrics. The company is the only manufacturer of mountain sports equipment to offer functional clothing made of Ingeo® fibre. This unusual fibre is made out of corn starch, is highly functional and is extremely environmentally friendly. SALEWA pursued its long-term business strategy and, with the creation of the footwear business, took the last step towards becoming a complete supplier. Mario Sartor and Antonio Dus, two of the world’s most experienced experts, joined the project.
2006: The first SALEWA footwear collection with the remarkable 100% blister free guarantee,is presented at the international sports trade fair OutDoor in Friedrichshafen. The footwear collection included a total of three lines: alpine eXperience for discerning hikers and trekkers, 5continents for quality-conscious travellers, and La Mano leisure footwear for trend-conscious climbers and outdoor sportsmen and women. There is a huge response – over 50,000 pairs of SALEWA shoes were sold in the very first season.
2007: The SALEWA group opened a branch in the USA so that it could better serve the North American market in the future with the three leading brands Dynafit, Silvretta and SALEWA. Europe’s leading Alpine sports-multispecialist thus took an important strategic step forward. The new branch was established in Boulder/Colorado, so that the brands are as near as possible to the heart of the mountaineering community. There were crucial changes in direction in other important export markets. In Korea, the most significant Asian outdoor market, 44 SALEWA shops have been opened with a national partner, and a further 16 shops should follow. In Poland, a subsidiary has been established to better serve this long-established Alpine sports market.
2009: At the ISPO Winter 2009/10, the largest trade fair for sports articles in the world, SALEWA presents a product range that sets new international standards in its uncompromising design. Twelve of the best climbers, mountain sports athletes and fabric experts have developed clothing over two years which is something more than simply a new collection. AlpinXtrem pro is the manifestation of a desire which has been in existence since people first climbed mountains: the desire for the ultimate in clothing. What does a professional climber need to perform to the maximum under extreme conditions? The answer is to be found in every item of SALEWA alpineXtrem pro. In July 2009, the ground was broken on the new SALEWA headquarters in Bolzano, which will provide a contemporary working environment for more than 100 SALEWA employees and the whole OBERALP group. However, work is not the only point of focus in South Tyrol. At the same time as the new base, the project incorporates the largest climbing hall in Italy, designed by top architects Cino Zucchi and Park Associati.
2010: The cornerstones for the new SALEWA European Headquarters in Bolzano were laid on the 26th of February 2010. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, President Heiner Oberrauch and CEO Massimo Baratto greeted Bolzano residents, well-known personalities from the worlds of sport, politics and culture, as well as media representatives, by noting, “Those who aim high must remain well-grounded”. With a volume of 200,000 m3 (7 million cubic feet) and a height of 48 meters (485 feet) after winning an exception from city height restrictions, the new SALEWA European Headquarters in Bolzano was to become more than a city landmark. The project, conceptualised by Cino Zucchi and Park Associati of Milan, Italy, is a symbol of healthy and sustainable development of mountain sports and proof that a modern brand indeed can be not only run in a friendly and familial manner and remain close to home, but can also be simultaneously run with a eye on the future.
2011: POMOCA, the leading Swiss ski skins manufacturer, was integrated into the SALEWA brand portfolio early in the year and thus expanded its role as a leader in the ski touring market. The merger of the two traditional, family-run companies gives a clear signal that the concepts of mountain safety, trust and reliability will will continue to be enhanced.
On the 6th of October SALEWA dedicated the site of the new headquarters in Bolzano at a ribbon-cutting ceremony with more than 1.000 invited guests.
2012: Wild Country is now part of the SALEWA Group. The move sees the mountain sports specialist from South Tyrol and the UK’s leading rock climbing equipment manufacturer put the seal on a synergy of rock climbing expertise. The SALEWA name has been synonymous with alpine expertise for over 75 years. Acquiring Wild Country enables the mountain sports brand to add the UK company’s in-depth specialist climbing knowledge to its own many years of mountain sport experience.