Ludwig Frei lays the foundation

Ludwig Frei (* 05.04.1915) from Widnau starts transporting goods with his tractor.


Merger of the Frei brothers

Ludwig joins forces with his two brothers Robert and Alois. The three sons of Marzell Frei mine gravel from the old course of the Rhine near Diepoldsau as the “Frei brothers”; The “Maz” bathing and recreation area, which is known throughout the region today, was built on this site; Since her father Marzell Frei was a total of 20! children, the “Marzeller” clan was well known in Widnau. This is why the gravel pit used to be called the “Marzell Hole”; What remains is the abbreviated name “Maz”;


Frei brothers part ways – Ludwig Frei takes over gravel works in the canton of Lucerne

A short, very successful era comes to an end after 8 years. The three brothers go their separate ways. Ludwig Frei leaves the St. Gallen Rhine Valley and takes over a gravel works in Gisikon, Lucerne, which primarily supplies bulk material for the construction of the Emmen military airfield;


Ludwig Frei builds Rhine gravel works in Buchs

Ludwig Frei recognises a gap in the market in the St. Gallen Rhine Valley between Diepoldsau and Sargans and builds his own gravel works on the Rhine in the up-and-coming municipality of Buchs. The gravel works became particularly important during the construction of the motorway in the Rhine Valley between 1956 and 1975;


Development of construction company

In connection with the construction of the motorway in the Rhine Valley, a civil engineering company is added. Several cable excavators, the largest with a dead weight of over 70 tonnes, extract huge quantities of bulk material from the Rhine, which is transported to the installation site by large dump trucks; Levelling equipment, rollers and other machines prepare the surface for subsequent paving.


Bruno Frei, son of Ludwig Frei, joins the company

Bruno Frei (*05.07.1943), a trained draughtsman, has been actively involved in the family business since 1964; At the same time, he is completing a part-time degree in civil engineering;


Business expansion with ready-mix concrete production

The Rhine gravel plant in Buchs is expanded to include a ready-mix concrete plant; In addition to gravel, the market area can now also be served with ready-mix concrete;


Start concrete products production

The first grass grid slabs and hollow blocks are produced in the open air at Rheinkieswerk using a mobile production plant directly on the ground.


New production hall with concrete plant on acquired building land in Grabs

The concrete goods production has started successfully and requires a new building. The Grabs site can now produce more efficiently under a roof with an indoor crane and adjoining concrete plant;


Rhine gravel extraction in Buchs is prohibited

The collapse of the Buchs-Schaan Rhine bridge on 14 August 1970 ultimately led to a ban on Rhine gravel extraction at Buchs and other foreign gravel works downstream; Infolge des enormen Kiesabbaus durch die Schüttung der Autobahn hat sich die Flusssohle des Rheins in den Jahren 1950 bis 1970 stark abgesenkt. In the area of the Buchs-Schaan Rhine bridge, it is up to 5 metres. As a result, a bridge pier was undermined, which led to the bridge collapsing; In order to continue to supply ready-mix concrete production in Buchs, the company is forced to procure gravel from further afield. For this reason, the company acquires a stake in the Schrau gravel works near Schiers in the canton of Graubünden and is forced to expand its vehicle fleet;


Foundation of public limited company «Frei Beton AG»

On 17 March 1978, the existing company “Ludwig Frei, Kieswerk” is converted into the public limited company “Frei Beton AG”;


Sale of the stake in the Schrau

The fluctuating material properties of the Schrau gravel works are poorly suited to the production of concrete products and the long transport distance also lead to the decision to sell the shares.


Ludwig Frei dies – son Bruno Frei takes over the management

On 28 October 1984, the company founder Ludwig Frei passes away; His son Bruno Frei takes over the management in the 2nd generation.


Development of international transportation division

Bruno Frei establishes a new mainstay alongside the ready-mixed concrete and concrete product manufacturing divisions; Several lorries carry out international transports between Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland;


Construction of highly automated concrete product manufacturing

Bruno Frei gives up ready-mix concrete production and concentrates its resources on the manufacture of concrete products; The company invests in a highly automated board circulation production system with high production output, a significantly increased quality standard and new product technology options; Major structural changes are necessary; This includes a new gravel feeding system with numerous conveyor belts, additional gravel and cement silos, as well as a new workshop with storage and staff rooms; The cement silos and some of the conveyor belts will be dismantled at the decommissioned Rhine gravel works in Buchs and reused at the Grabs site; Storage space is also being increased to accommodate the expanded product range;


Letting of free hall space

With the efficient board circulation production and the space-saving high-bay warehouse, 1/3 of the Grabs production hall is freed up. This part of the hall will include of all concrete production facilities located therein. The lessee manufactures tools for concrete processing; For the research and development of its tools, the tenant concretes special prefabricated parts, so-called test substrates; To ensure consistent material quality, the tenant integrates its own concrete laboratory.


Frei Beton takes over the production of test substrates

The rented tool manufacturer is growing and no longer wants to be involved in concrete production itself. Frei Beton takes over the production order for test substrates from the mould manufacturer and thus also its personnel, the installed equipment and the integrated concrete laboratory.


Blasting Rheinkieswerk

On 9 February 2001, 7 kg of explosives brought the Rhine gravel works, which had been closed since 1989, to its knees; Due to the dust cloud, the nearby A13 motorway was closed for a short time; The dismantling costs of the gravel works built on third-party land are borne by Frei Beton AG. The result is a local recreation area for the neighbouring population.


Construction of office building with stone exhibition

To promote the sale of high-quality concrete paving and walling systems, the company builds a showroom with offices; Several companies in the market area use highly automated production facilities to manufacture a wide variety of concrete products. The company’s own range is therefore increasingly being supplemented with products from other manufacturers in Switzerland and neighbouring countries. Paving stones, large format slabs, pavement slabs, wall systems, steps, edging, planting and fountain troughs, concrete pipes and a wide variety of decorative gravel make Frei Beton a complete supplier for civil engineering and garden construction.


Frei Beton AG becomes a licensed manufacturer of the Allan Block® retaining wall

Bruno Frei recognises the potential of the Allan Block® retaining wall system developed in the USA; Frei Beton AG applies and becomes a licensed Swiss manufacturer. The company invests in a splitting plant and several production moulds; The great advantage of the Allan Block® retaining wall: In combination with plastic geogrids, high slope stabilisation with curves can be created; With this innovation, Frei Beton is able to expand the market area for concrete products again in the following years and also deliver to French-speaking Switzerland and Ticino.


Michael Frei, son of Bruno Frei, joins the company

Michael Frei (*03.02.1982) completed his studies in civil engineering at the beginning of 2007. In the following two years, he planned supporting structures in a structural engineering office; It has always been clear to Michael Frei that he would like to continue the family business. However, the timing of the change was determined by his father Bruno Frei’s diagnosis of bowel cancer; Bruno Frei recovers fully from cancer, continues to work after the regular retirement age of 65 and hands over the management of the company to the third generation.