In 1938, four accomplished European machinists and tool makers, cousins Alfred & Louie Schlehlein and with relatives Vince Oehrlein & Hilmer Lagergren, formed a partnership and founded Vahl Inc. based out of Brooklyn, New York. In the early stages of the company, the partners kept their old jobs while getting their new venture up and running; even utilizing some used machines.
TRIVIA: Vahl, the company name, originated from each of the founders first initials.
With Vahl’s future uncertain, the cousins left the company in May of 1939, while brothers Louie & Alfred pressed on with limited equipment and work. With World War II beginning in the fall of 1939, more work became readily available. At this time Vahl was able to acquire some additional machinery and rented a larger building to support the war effort. However, once the war ended, so did the plentiful work. Thankfully, Vahl had developed a reputation for producing quality parts and was able to survive with work from American Machine & Foundry and the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation.
TRIVIA: In 1946, as a sideline to keep busy the company started fabricating and selling SKYVAHL, a metal model airplane kit.
1950 – 2009:
With business beginning to thrive and become more consistent, in 1951 Vahl was able to build a building more suited to their needs and considerably larger than the space they were currently renting. Along with the bigger space, came additions to their machine fleet enabling Vahl to produce quicker and more effectively. They acquired several Hydrotels and Grumman would provide several other machines which aided in supporting the Korean War effort. Business was now fruitful and Vahl continued to expand to meet the need.
In 1961 Henry Dieken, a tool and die maker from Emden, a small town in Germany, came to the United States and took a job at Vahl. With the company’s continued growth, Vahl was honored to make parts for the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) which was produced by Grumman, in addition to making parts for various aircraft utilized during the Vietnam War. The conclusion of the Vietnam War brought vast change within the industry and Vahl was fortunate to be able to change with it, by migrating to Numerical Controlled (NC) machines.
In 1973, Alfred, the last of Vahl’s original founders retired, selling the company to five employees one of them being current owner Henry Dieken. The company continued to grow in their Brooklyn building and as the customer base expanded as did Vahl’s machining expertise; In particular, the machining and processing of high strength steels. Some of the newly acquired parts included 3D machined structural parts and landing gear details. Vahl was making parts for all three US based landing gear manufacturers in along with both military AND commercial aircraft.
2009 – Today:
In 2009, Vahl left Brooklyn to move to a modern 60,000 sq ft building in East Brunswick, NJ. Vahl not only machines detail parts by utilizing one of their 23 Mazak milling and tuning centers, we also make simple and complex assemblies. With IBM blade server’s, CAD/CAM programming and CMM inspection capability, Vahl continues to keep up with latest technology.
Henry Dieken is still at the helm along with his son, Jerry as President and grandson Derek overseeing Operations. Additionally Henry’s two grand-daughters along with relatives of past and current employees – at Vahl, the family tradition continues.
We have been fortunate that many of our valued employees who were with us in Brooklyn made the move to New Jersey. Over time, our company make-up may have changed but our mission and values remain the same. At Vahl we take our jobs very seriously and we are honored to be able to produce some of the country’s most valuable machined products to provide excellence for the people we serve. We pride ourselves on our workmanship and first and foremost recognize that the lives of millions of people every day rest in our hands.