August Grunder-Kiefer was born 1880 in St. Gallen, Switzerland, where his parents ran a saddler's shop. After his basic education, Grunder went to a trade school to become a salesman. Consequently, the young enthousiastic businessman travelled to southern France and was thorougly introduced into seed growing on a large estate. At the Agricultural Institute Köstritz in Germany he widened his knowledge of market gardening, as Grunder was expected to join his uncle Stump in his seed trade company. August Grunder was also a keen soccer player and won the 1903/04 Swiss championships as captain of the FC St. Gallen. This club made him honorary president to thank him for his longlasting unselfishness while serving as the club's president. The friendships in his soccer period remained after he stopped as club's president, and proved helpful regarding his later commercial activities.
By his knowlegde to market gardening, in 1909 he got aquainted to Konrad von Meyenburg, an agricultural engineer from Zürich, who had just patented his "machine for loosening of soil". Grunder was so enthousiastic about this invention, further called Bodenfräse, that he initiated the foundation of the Patentverwertungsgesellschaft (patent cashing company) Motorkultur AG in St. Gallen in January 1911. The company was based in Basel, Switzerland. During the following years, the Motorkultur AG undertook intensive tests with larger and smaller Bodenfräsen and licensed several companies in Europe as well as overseas to build them.
August Grunder focussed on the smaller tillers, as he was convinced that these could be sold in commercially remunerative numbers to market gardeners. He had a small, only 90 kg weighing test machine being constructed in the workshop of the Motorkultur AG, which was powered by a 2 to 3 hp engine. As a result, he aquired a license from the Motorkultur AG to build small rotary tillers with a maximum power of 5 hp. On 1st of August 1917 followed the foundation of "A. Grunder & Co., Industriegesellschaft für Motor-Bodenfräsen" in Basel, which rented the Motorkultur's workshop in the Dornacherstrasse 160. Grunder was licensed to manufacture and sell his tillers in Switzerland, Great Britain and it's colonies, Italy, Turkey, Chine and Japan. During the first years, only small tillers with either petrol or electric motors were made. In 1919 Grunder aquired the factory buildings of the dissolved turner's shop "zum Bärenloch" in the Margarethental in Binningen. In 1920 already, he managed to make 150 tillers with a staff of 40. As problems occurred in the supply of engines from MAG in Geneva and from Moser in St-Aubin, Grunder decided to construct his own engines. This was followed by a newly constructed powered mower with side sickle bar.
In 1919, A. Grunder & Co. sublicensed the company "La Précision SA" in Geneva (later SIMAR SA) to build rotary tillers. In 1926 Grunder incorporated his company into "A. Grunder & Co. AG, Motoren- und Maschinenfabrik Binningen bei Basel". Business went very well, as the powered sickle bar mowers and rotary tillers/ploughs as well as cable spindles could be sold in relatively large numbers. From the mid-thirties Grunder also developed four wheel tractors with Chevrolet engine, of course available with rotary tiller attachment. During World War II Grunder made tractors with engines from Ford (with Imbert wood gaz installation), Fiat, Opel, Peugeot and Renault. Tests with an Oerlikon-Villinger diesel engine were not succesful at that time.
Directly after the War, only walk behind tractors (model U3G, with 8 hp two stroke petrol engine) were made. From 1950, the new mowers Pionier, Julior, Minor and Elite were introduced. Based on the rotary tiller, a snow blower was constructed, called the "Snow Pick". Simultaniously Grunder attempted to re-enter four wheel tractor business again, but after 3 prototypes it was decided to get a license from Holder in Germany to build a slightly improved version of their Holder B10 tractor. Because houses were erased around the factory, and space was insufficient to manufacture those tractors, Grunder moved to the buildings of a previous spinning-mill in Füllingsdorf during 1956.
August Grunder died in 1957. In November 1958 Holder of Metzingen, Germany, purchased all stocks of the Grunder company. Because of sinking sales numbers around 1960, the new owners decided to cease production in Switzerland. The Grunder company was liquidated in March 1961, and finally dissolved on 27th October 1965.
Source among others:
"Schweizer Traktorenbau" Band 2, Manuel Gemperle, Walter Hungerbühler and Hermann Wyss, pages 74-75.
An old Grunder tiller from ca. 1920-1924, in the Grunder collection of David Muster, Switserland. The engine is from Fabrique de Moteurs & Machines M.V. (Müller & Vogel), St. Aubin, Switserland. Very similar to the Siemens 2 PS Bodenfräse and the SIMAR Type 4.
Pictures from 2015, sent by Charlie Moore.
Georg Jäggin has some 1922-1925 tillers in his huge Grunder collection, which show resemblance to this tiller, but with a different, Grunder two stroke, engine.
Grunder Schorsch' Grunder collection
Due to supply bottlenecks of third-party engines/ manufacturers, A. Grunder had an own engine developed and patented for his tillers. A Mr. Senn developed this mid-1920s. Starting in 1926, the Grunder engines went into serial production and were fitted exclusively on Grunder tillers. The Grunder engines were modified several times and manufactured in various variations until about 1957 (information from David Muster).
A. Bosma, Netherlands: pre-war Grunder cultivator.