Oskar Pfeifer, the acclaimed entrepreneur and veteran of the Tyrolean timber industry, has recently been awarded a special honour: The international platform Forum Holzbau presented the Timber Construction Award of Honour 2018 to the grand master of the Pfeifer Group for his lifetime work and contribution.
Forum Holzbau honours individuals who have dedicated their working life to wood and timber and who have set an example in the application of timber in the construction industry. And who could be more deserving of the award than Oskar Pfeifer, who through his exceptional commitment and over several decades has built up one of Europe's leading timber industries? In his laudatory speech as the Holzbau board representative, Hugo Karre, answered this question: “Oskar Pfeifer and his company have been responsible for a significant increase in efficiency in the industrial production of glued laminated timber. The resulting reduction in price led to a very rapid and extremely high market penetration for “glulam engineered timber products”, which secured substantial market share for timber construction and drove development forward.” Hugo Karre presented the Timber Construction Award of Honour 2018 together with Ingrid Höhensteiger (Forum Holzbau Germany) and Prof. Uwe Germerott, Managing Director of Forum Holzbau.
Let’s go, let’s go! Born in 1934, Oskar Pfeifer started to work early in the sawmill of his widowed mother, Barbara Pfeifer, together with his brothers Fritz and Bernhard. The events that transpired in the following decades turned into a lifetime of entrepreneurial achievement. Spurred on by the pioneering spirit of the family, the small sawmill in Imst developed into one of the largest and leading companies in the European timber industry, with eight locations in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. Oskar Pfeifer was always in search of new products, and was the driving force for technical and business development, as the history of the company testifies. Fast, cost efficiency and ever greater added value – these were the things that excited Oskar Pfeifer, who, with the exception of hunting, had little time for private leisure. One of his notable expressions was: “Keep the machines running, not idle. Let’s go, let’s go!”. And his Sunday tours through the shop floor, together with his mother, were legendary for decades.
A pioneer of sawn timber finishing From 1971, there was a shift away from pure sub-contract sawing with the launch of sawn timber finished products: initially shuttering panels, then single- and three-ply panels in 1985, followed by glulam in 1988 and formwork beams in 1992. The Energy division was also founded in 1992, with the production of pellets and wood briquettes from valuable shavings and sawdust residues. As early as 1994, the Pfeifer Group in Imst operated one the first glulam plants in the world with an output of more than 100,000 m3. This was followed in 1998 by the merger of Presswood International B.V. of Ermelo, Netherlands, in to the distribution association Euroblock Verpackungsholz GmbH, which continuously gives new impetus to the logistics industry worldwide with its high quality chipboard pallets and packaging timber. Today, the Pfeifer Group is a family owned business in its third generation, with 2,000 employees, operating in three countries and exporting to 90.
Promoter of the timber value chain The Forum Holzbau operates as an internationally active association with the University of Rosenheim (DE), the Bern University of Applied Sciences (CH), the Aalto University School of Science and Technology, Helsinki (FIN), the Technical University of Munich (DE), the Vienna University of Technology (AT) and the University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George (CAN), as sponsors. The goal and task of the association is to promote the use of timber in the construction industry. Surplus funds are used in the context of the timber industry, both to support R&D projects by students as well as to establish new events and conferences for knowledge transfer along the timber value chain.