'Idealists in Business'
The Wunderlich company was founded in Australia by the British-born, Swiss-educated Wunderlich brothers: Ernest (1859-1945), Alfred (1865-1966) and later, Otto (1861-1951). Ernest arrived in Australia in 1885 and the company is generally said to date from 1887, when Alfred joined Ernest in Australia (Otto arrived in 1900). A limited liability company was established in 1893.
The company had its origins firstly in importing, then manufacturing, ornamental metal work for buildings. Wunderlich Ltd became well known for its pressed metal ceilings and other decorative metal work. As Australia’s population boomed in the late 19th century and building techniques changed from hand crafted processes to prefabrication, Wunderlich Ltd began to import and then manufacture building materials, most notably terracotta roofing tiles and other terracotta building components.
The company continued to expand and extend its product line to include more architectural terracotta, asbestos-cement sheeting, and later, aluminium door and window frames. It had branches and manufacturing plants throughout Australia and continued to operate until taken over by CSR in 1969 (the asbestos division having been acquired by James Hardie Ltd in 1964).
During an era when factories were generally distinguished by dirt and danger, Wunderlich Ltd was noteworthy for its enlightened attitude towards its workforce. They instigated a profit-sharing scheme for employees, encouraged them to undertake further education and had various schemes for the health and betterment of their workers. Skill, hard work and the pursuit of excellence were valued and the firm was rewarded by a loyal, devoted and long serving workforce.