1870: The founder of KEF, Hans Marius Nielsen, was born in 1870 in the village of Bøjden near Fåborg on the island of Funen.
The eldest of 6 children, Hans Marius Nielsen was the son of the village blacksmith. Helping his father at the forge, he is believed to have learned in the smithy about materials, quality work, and the tradition of craftsmanship that became fundamental for his later work. He was an apprentice at Svendborg Machine Factory and then worked for a few years at Emil Møllers telephone factory in Horsens. He worked for L.M. Ericsson in Stockholm for several years but wanted to return to Denmark. When he became works foreman at the Thomas B. Thrige Motor Factory in Odense, he made the acquaintance of P.A. Fisker.
1906: On May 1, H.M. Nielsen and P.A. Fisker established Fisker & Nielsen, a company producing small electrical motors.
Fisker had a lot of good ideas for the use of motors, so he manufactured everything from fans and kitchen elevators to coffee grinders and mangles. He even developed a vacuum cleaner. After taking it apart and reassembling it innumerable times, he created the ‘Nilfisk’, the first electric vacuum cleaner in Europe.
P.A. Fisker retained the company name even though H.M. Nielsen terminated their collaboration. Rumour has it that he was too stingy to buy new letterhead.
1910: The partnership lasted until 1910, when H.M. Nielsen founded KEF (Københavns Elektromotor Fabrik, Copenhagen Electrical Motor Works) at the back of an apartment building in the Vesterbro area of Copenhagen. His intent was to manufacture electrical motors under the KEF name.
However, the premises at 27 Vesterbrogade could not keep up with growth, and after renting various facilities in the area, he ended up buying the property at 29 Finsensvej and 1.4 acres of adjoining land. This provided the basis for expansion for many years to come.
1940: H.M. Nielsen started handing over certain managerial functions to his son, who had worked as an apprentice in the factory and had studied engineering in Germany.
1955: When H.M. Nielsen died at the age of 85, he left behind a company created in his spirit on a foundation of good craftsmanship.
1960: On its 50th company anniversary on 16 November 1960, KEF had 175 employees, a facility of 43,000 square feet, and an annual production volume of 25,000 units.
50 years after its foundation, KEF had been through two world wars. During those periods customers sometimes had to provide copper, among other materials, because it was difficult to obtain raw materials. However, the two wars also gave rise to custom orders. For example, KEF produced a huge number of electric motors for postal service vehicles and blower motors for passenger car gas generators. KEF contributed greatly to keeping things moving in Denmark.
KEF specialised in manufacturing custom motors according to industry demand for oil burning furnaces, washing machines, centrifuges, pumps, sewing machines, ship dynamos, and elevators. It supplied the cement industry and maintained the production of grinding and polishing machines. Motors were produced in sizes from 0.25 to 50 hp in direct and alternating current versions.
A few years later, KEF was acquired by Thrige Titan, the electrical motor manufacturer.
1965: Thrige Titan moved the entire production line to the facility in Aalborg and kept operating it there until 1979.
1979: During the late 1970s, Thrige Titan undertook a modernisation project. All manufacturing in Aalborg was transferred to Odense, where the well-known KEF grinding machines continued to be manufactured.
1988: SCANTOOL GROUP acquires KEF Motor.