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Post published on 10/11/2020

120 years of GASTI - from filling shoe polish to a leading packaging machine manufacturer for the dairy industry

The Schwaebisch Hall-based company «GASTI» is celebrating its 120th anniversary in November 2020. Take a look back at more than a century of pure innovation in the packaging machinery sector.

It has all started at GASTI back in the year 1900, when the glue manufacturer Adolf Diemer was tired of manually filling leather grease (shoe polish) into cans. It was a mess, especially when the cans were overfilled and the sticky grease was spreading on tables and floors. So he looked for a technical solution and remembered an old light-casting machine in the attic, which was used to make stearin candles. Adolf Diemer’s vague idea was to use this machine to fill the leather grease into cans. He instructed his mechanic Karl Ganzhorn to convert them, who – after much trial and error proudly demonstrated the result in the small workshop: a pouring trolley – basically the first filling machine.

A friend who was the owner of the Werner & Metz company in Mainz examined the “Ganzhorn” filling machines and immediately ordered ten pieces — for the production of “Erdal” shoe polish, which already enjoyed a worldwide reputation at that time.

Ganzhorn had to complete this first order for 10 pouring trolleys on its own within a short period of time. He didn’t like the massive order since, after all, he was employed by Diemer. However, the glue manufacturer encouraged him to set up his own company and even made available a small workshop in Klingenweg in Schwäbisch Hall.

Karl Ganzhorn started his own business same year. He was obsessed by his work. His variety of ideas was incredible. He designed and built dozens of gadgets and small machines. In order to be able to cope with the work, he soon needed employees. They had to be paid, of course, and he needed capital. That is why he teamed up with Friedrich Kling in 1905. Kling joined the company as a so-called «silent partner». Ganzhorn & Kling was the new company name.

In addition to the pouring and filling trolleys, they also manufactured filling hoppers for bottles and other useful equipment soon and the orders piled up. In World War I the company was given special order: manufacturing of filling machines for army catering. Only the fillers for milk remained for the homeland. Ganzhorn and Kling separated in the middle of World War I.

With the entry of a new partner, watchmaker Wilhelm Stirn, the company Ganzhorn & Stirn continued to develop. From June 16, 1916, Stirn was the sole owner (when the company was taken over, it consisted of 18 workers and 5 employees) and Karl Ganzhorn left the company. Due to the high respect for the company founder Ganzhorn & Stirn became the new company name. In addition Kling and Stirn sounds quite similar and there was also the hope to benefit from the already established and well reputed original name.

Stirn was a man of visions and the volume of orders grew steadily. Soon, the backyard workshop in Klingenweg became too small. Stirn searched and found a new domicile. In 1919 he and his people moved to the former cement factory in Steinbach. In 1921 the company already had more than 100 employees. More and more effective machines and devices were built. In addition to shoe polish, products such as eau de Cologne, honey and mayonnaise, margarine and processed cheese, jam and cough syrup, tomato paste and liqueurs should be packed. Bottles, cans, jugs, canisters and tubes should be used as containers. Each customer got his own special equipment and Wilhelm Stirn was very successful with his new ideas. A real tinkerer and inventor. «Doesn’t work» didn’t exist at Ganzhorn & Stirn. Soon after the shorter company name ‘GASTI’ was formed from GA for Ganzhorn and STI for Stirn.

In 1947 Wilhelm Stirn passed away and Mrs. Margarete Sehl-Stirn put the management in the hands of her husband, Hans Sehl, who successfully managed the company which had grown to 300 employees in the meantime.

The 1950s GASTI introduced its first filling machines for tubes (Gnom) which was manufactured in series.

Dieter Sehl (son of Hans Sehl) began planning the business in Hessental at an early stage, as a progressive business organization was no longer possible at the old facility in Steinbach.


Aseptic processing as competitive edge

In the 1970s, GASTI became one of the first suppliers to develop special machinery for sterile cup packaging. This was a pioneering and successful development, as it had previously been impossible to offer long shelf lives for dairy products that were not refrigerated.

In 1977 the first aseptic filling and sealing machine (DOGASEPTIC 42) with a sealless dosing system was delivered. As a result, GASTI added aseptic machines to its product portfolio.

In 1978 the 500th GASTI packaging machine was produced and delivered to the customer.


International growth

The success story continued in the following years. In 1981 the owner Dieter Sehl sold the company with 450 employees to Rheinmetall AG. At that time GASTI a large variety of machines were sold into many countries globally wide. A success story began with the participation in the ‘Middle East Electricity & Electronics’ trade fair in Jeddah in 1983 and the sale of the DOGATHERM 12DR to an Arabian company. This customer in Kingdom Saudi Arabia has nowadays installed 17 machines from the CONTITHERM series on which mainly yoghurt is filled.

In 2000, the IWKA Group took over the company from Rheinmetall AG and in 2007 the packaging machine division of IWKA AG was sold and joined the Odewald & Cie. portfolio  and was introduced as OYSTAR Group to the market. At the end of 2014, the OYSTAR Group was sold to the Italian packaging machine manufacturer IMA S.p.A. and the IMA DAIRY & FOOD division — to which GASTI belongs — was created. At the end of 2018, Mr. Thomas Becker took over 60% of the shares in the IMA DAIRY & FOOD group; 40% are still owned by IMA S.p.A.

Today GASTI machines are in successful operation world wide. The company, based in Schwaebisch Hall-Hessental, specializes in continuous filling and sealing machines for liquid and pasty products in prefabricated cups made of plastic or cardboard-plastic composites.

E.g. this year a CONTITHERM 123 with an output of 28,000 cups / h for filling soy yoghurt and a an aseptic machine DOGASEPTIC 82 with an output of 19,200 cups / h for filling yoghurt have been installed with two different Chinese customers. Another DOGASEPTIC for filling caffè latte will be shipped to South East Asia in December.

The packaging machinery sector has been subject to constant changes over the past 120 years. GASTI, however, has always managed to pick up on changing market demands early on, continually setting new trends. As a result, the company’s customers have always been supplied with reliable and innovative machines that always have one thing in common: the very highest quality standards.

First filling machine for shoe polish
Tube filler from GASTI
1940: Delivery of a milk filling line
Fill and seal machine DG 25/6 for preformed cups
50tth machine ready for delivery