Georg Fischer III

(12 September 1864 - 19 January 1925)

After attending school in Schaffhausen, Georg Fischer III first registered at the University of Geneva. He then did practical training in Wasseralfingen (Germany), where he learned the art of malleable casting. After his practical training, Georg Fischer went to Dresden to study engineering at the Royal Saxon Polytechnic (Mechanical Engineering department). Here he attended lectures on mechanical engineering, metallurgy and chemistry. However, he had to discontinue his studies after three semesters because his father died and he was called on to take over management of the company.

Expansion of fitting production

Georg Fischer III devoted himself to expanding the business his father had bequeathed to him and to realizing his father's development plans. As early as 1888, he decided to discontinue the production of files in order to use the premises for the expansion of fitting manufacture. One forge gave way to a new fitting foundry, while another – a file mill that had been mothballed – was transformed into a thread cutting workshop. In order to put steel casting on a new footing, Georg Fischer III installed a Siemens-Martin coke oven in the new foundry he had built in 1890. He thus not only significantly expanded the plant but also improved quality in a bid to meet the rapidly growing demand for cast steel from the electricity industry and the railways. By 1889, Georg Fischer III was delivering cast-steel locomotive wheels and by 1890 magnet wheels from Martin cast steel to Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon in Switzerland and to AEG in Berlin. The payroll had counted 183 employees in 1887; within nine years it more than tripled owing to the expansion, and as the century drew to a close Georg Fischer had 552 employees. It was definitely no longer a medium-sized company! By the turn of the century, the number of employees had further increased to over 1,600.

A booming industry

KGeorg Fischer III had more luck with the economy than his father. In the mid-1880s, a prolonged upswing began that lasted, with brief interruptions, until the outbreak of the First World War. This boom was driven mainly by the new electrical engineering and chemical industries, which compounded the growth produced by infrastructure expansion and the appearance of the internal combustion engine. In 1895, Georg Fischer III opened a fitting mill in nearby Singen, a project that had already been envisaged by his father. The main reason this move was the effect of German tariffs, which were inducing many Swiss companies to set up operations in South Baden across the border. Another factor was the appearance on the market in the 1890s of malleable cast iron fittings from German competitors.

To keep the company growing, capital was needed, and Georg Fischer III met this need by transforming his firm into a joint stock company in 1896. At the same time, he pushed ahead with various social security benefits such as allowances for older employees, company canteens and extensive construction of housing for company employees. In 1898, he instituted the first workers' commission. A crisis of overcapacity and overproduction put a dent in the general economic upswing in 1901. The crisis did not leave Georg Fischer unscathed, and turnover plummeted. Open discord broke out in the Board of Directors, and in 1902 the banks forced Georg Fischer III to step down from the company management. However, he didn't simply retire but rather remained active in the industry. In 1907, he introduced in Switzerland the Heroult electric furnace for making cast steel and founded the Electric Steel Works in Schaffhausen, which he sold to Georg Fischer in 1917.