The Rise of the Elevator and Vestner

6th Aug 18

In the same way motorised transport revolutionised travel and trade, the elevator has had an enormous impact on the way we’ve constructed the buildings we live and work in. Let’s look at some of the milestones in elevator development and for Vestner as a company.


The 19th century: The beginning of the modern elevator

Defined as an enclosure or platform raised and lowered in a vertical shaft, the elevator is seen by many as a 20th century invention, but it dates back much further. Unsophisticated versions powered by water wheel, animal or human were used as early as the third century BC.

More complex, counter-weighted versions were developed in the 1820s and ‘30s, and the real breakthrough came in 1853 when Elisha Otis invented a self-braking elevator system that offered guaranteed safety and boosted public confidence. The invention opened the door for the realisation of skyscrapers.

Taking the reins from these early steam-powered designs were electric elevators, the first being invented by German man, Werner Von Siemens in 1880.


1930: Vestner is born

One of the companies to take Siemens invention to the next level and advance the industry was Vestner — founded in Munich, Germany by Wilhelm Vestner in 1930. After he was drafted by the German Army, Vestner’s wife and two staff ran the company until the war ended. In 1945 Wilhelm was released from a Russian POW camp and returned to the company for a period of exponential growth that ran through the 1950s.


1931: The Empire State Building opens

Attracting around four million visitors each year, the Empire State Building is a great example of the type of building elevators have allowed us to build. In addition to visitors, the New York art deco skyscraper is home to 15,000 daily workers. Its 73 elevators travel shafts boasting a total length of 11km to get these people from floor to floor efficiently. 

With that in mind it’s easy to see why elevators are considered the world’s safest and most frequently used means of transport.



1960: Vestner grows and keeps it in the family

At the start of the 1960s Vestner had ramped their production up to 250 elevators per year, and Willhelm is joined at the company by his sons, Paul and Wilhelm Vestner Jr. The decade also saw regulations requiring installation of elevator car doors and the banning of wooden cabins.


1970: Winning gold with the Olympics

Vestner won a major order for new buildings to be constructed for the 1972 Olympic Games to be held in Munich, Germany. The deal was the source of a major growth spurt for Vestner.


1989: Emergency call system

Continuing their technical innovations (which included use of new materials such as natural stone, stainless steel and glass; and adoption of microprocessor electronic controls), Vestner starts distributing their ‘Vestner 2000’ emergency call system which links lift users to a call centre.


1991: The Berlin Wall has fallen and Germany reunifies

As East and West Germany reunify, Vestner expands into East Germany and establishes branches in Leipzig and Berlin.


2002: Escalating expansion

The Vestner production offering expands to include escalators, while launching their third generation of elevator without a machine room. 


2010: Vestner invests in its own future

Vestner celebrate their 80th birthday by investing in their future by creating their Centre for Development, Training and Logistics. Paul Vestner commented on the new centre, “Not only will elevators be developed at this academy, we will be able to test them directly and train our German and international staff in the use of these products on site – from apprentices to the sales and customer service staff.”

By 2012 the company had invested 1.5 million Euros in their training concept.


2013: Vestner enter the residential home

Vestner begin production of the ‘home lift’, making their 80+ years of industry experience at a commercial level available to people in their own homes.


Today, tomorrow and beyond: Vestner on a local level

Much of the world is now serviced by Vestner distributors. We’re proud to be members of the Vestner family, downunder, and to offer our customers commercial and residential lifts and elevator solutions with almost a century of experience and innovation behind them. Contact us to learn more about our products and services and to help us keep writing Vestner history.




‘Empire State Building’ by BKL ART under CC BY-NC 2.0

‘Elevator’ by Gideon Tsang under CC BY-SA 2.0

Filed under Commercial Lifts

Written by

As National Sales and Operations Manager, Mark’s role includes building and maintaining business relationships, and managing and overseeing larger projects, all while keeping a watchful eye out for business opportunities.  Having a background in the health and disability sector provides Mark with the necessary understanding to assist clients when considering access solutions for people with mobility requirements.

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