WALLNER - FOUNDER
Rudolf Wallner was born in Duisburg
Germany, November 7, 1922. His father was a steel
mill superintendent at Tyson Steel and his mother
was a home maker raising seven children.
Before Rudolf enlisted
in the German Luftwaffe, he served a four year apprenticeship
as a machinist at Demag GMBH, one of the largest crane
and equipment manufacturers in the world. During WWII
Demag GMBH manufactured many components that were
used by the military.
In the midst of
WWII, most large cities were devastated by bombing
raids, including Duisburg. After serving on the Russian
front for 4 years during the war, Rudolf returned
to his hometown and found that the place he had grew
up was in mere shambles. His mother had been killed
in the bombing raids, and he had also lost two of
his brothers. Once the war was over, he acquired a
new job serving as a driver for an English Lieutenant.
The Lieutenant and Rudolf became very close with one
another, and because of their friendship the Lieutenant
was able to convince Rudolf to come to the United
States where opportunity was plentiful.
Rudolf and his wife
Sophia left Germany with their first born son to start
a new life in May of 1952. They landed in New York
and moved to Pennsylvania where Rudolf worked odd
jobs to support his family. Rudolf later moved his
wife and children to Chicago where he would seek the
profession he was trained for, machining tools. Rudolf
found his niche in the dies used for precision stamping.
This included progressive, lamination and deep drawing
dies. He worked in several well known tool and die
shops learning the trade at a rapid pace. Around the
early 1950's Rudolf would typically start a job working
under the die makers that had the most seniority.
Very often the owners of the shops would notice Rudolf's
drive and his desire to finish the job. He would frequently
be found working through his breaks and running more
than one machine at a time to increase efficiency.
On one occasion Rudolf was earning more in his first
month of work than some of the die makers were earning
who had been there for over twenty years!
Rudolf built his
home in Chicago and worked until the summer of 1959,
when he decided that there was a greater opportunity
and better weather in California. After being a part
of several partnerships, Rudolf decided he could advance
further by working independently. His modest beginnings,
Wallner Tooling & Stamping, started in late 1959.
Wallner was located on Haskell Street in Van Nuys
California where he built dies for the aircraft industry.
During the time of WWII, the San Fernando Valley was
the aircraft building mecca for the United States.
Many of the acclaimed aircraft manufacturers and support
companies remained in business even after the war
had ended. Rudolf's experience in machine tools and
dies quickly paid off.
Not long after Wallner
Tooling & Stamping was up and running, the Vietnam
War had began to consume hardware at an alarming rate.
Needless to say, the aviation and aerospace industries
were in full swing. Many other industries, including
the filter industry joined Wallner's customer base.
One of Wallner's first products for the filter industry
was truck filter end caps which were used in the military
vehicles overseas. After having a few meetings with
one automotive filter manufacturer, Rudolf had his
first inquiry for the production of expanded metal.
To the customer's surprise, Rudolf shared that he
had experience with expanded metal in Germany during
his apprenticeship at the Dermag Works. While working
at Dermag, Rudolf had expanded 1/2” thick boiler
plates in a 2,000 ton hydraulic straight side press
for use in the catwalks on the U-Boot Bunkers.
In the spring of
1968 Rudolf put his mastery to work, and developed
what was Wallner Tooling's first prototype expanded
metal machine. He utilized existing components within
the company, consisting of a two-post, ball bearing
die set, an electric motor, gears, sprockets and chains.
Rudolf machined, finished, assembled, tested and then
presented the customer with his finished product.
With great enthusiasm the customer replied “How
fast can we receive the first shipment of expanded
metal?” Rudolf's machine went from prototype
to production almost immediately.
In their first few
years of business, Wallner Tooling built complete
expanded metal lines for many filter companies, and
in the years that followed, Wallner had supplied the
industry with hundreds of expanded metal lines. After
several years of use, many of Wallner's customers
traded their old lines for new ones. Wallner Tooling
refurbished the returned metal lines and used them
to produce expanded metal for private label filter
In the summer of
1975, Rudolf had his first exposure to the HVAC filter
market. Rudolf was contracted to build two lines to
make expanded metal for the flat panel filters used
in furnaces. After noticing welded wire in the pleated
filters Rudolf quickly responded with an expanded
metal alternative (HVAC Material). This new material
served the same purpose at less than half the cost
of the prior material.
founder of this leading edge product, Rudolf decided
to manufacture and supply expanded metal directly
to the HVAC filter industry. He established Expac,
Inc., (Expanded Metal Pacific) in 1976 as a separate
entity to Wallner, which became the supplier of the
HVAC material. A couple of years later Wallner Tooling
and Expac, Inc. merged and created Wallner Tooling/Expac,
Inc. (WTE). In 1978, Rudolf purchased 5 acres in Rancho
Cucamonga California, which secured land for future
In 1980 WTE had its grand opening in
its new 16,000 square foot facility. Considering the
fact that WTE was supplying much of its expanded metal
products to the East Coast, there was an additional
need to expand their operations in that direction.
In 1988, WTE opened a 10,000 square foot facility
in Kennesaw Georgia.
After six years in operation, WTE purchased
an additional 3 acre lot with 16,000 square feet that
they added to the Georgia facility to accommodate
the rapid growth the company was experiencing. The
company continued to expand and larger facilities
became necessary in both locations to accommodate
new business. In 1997, WTE enlarged both California
and Georgia facilities to 40,000 square foot each.
Responding to the steel market
volatility and the rapid economic growth in the Pacific
Rim, WTE expanded its operations to Gumi South Korea
where they joined in Partnership with SKE (SamKwang
Electronics Group), a leading metal perforator for
the audio speaker industry. Together the two companies
established SKW (SamKwang Wallner Co. LTD) in 2001.
The operation continues to successfully service WTE's
West Coast HVAC customer base and the growing market
in Europe and Asia. In 2004, WTE purchased a new building
for their corporate office. This purchase provided
the necessary distribution resources to effectively
handle imports from Korea.
Wallner Tooling/Expac, Inc. has
grown to be a worldwide recognized Expanded
Metal and Machine Manufacturer and successfully
continues to supply many industries with their expanded
metal and machinery needs. Their leadership, experience,
innovative expertise and continued devotion to their
customers makes Wallner Tooling/Expac, Inc. what it