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In Memoriam Jakob Muller

Jakob Müller, engineer and innovator in the narrow fabrics industry, died Oct. 6, 2003. He was 87.

In 1946, Müller took over the eight-employee narrow fabric shuttle loom business of his father, who had inherited it from his father - who founded it in 1887 to manufacture narrow fabric weaving systems with punch-card control. Müller led Switzerland-based Jakob Müller AG, Frick, to its position as a global narrow fabric machinery manufacturer with more than 1,000 employees; branch offices in Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, Hong Kong, India, China, Mexico and Brazil; and agents in about 60 other countries.

Müller developed innovative solutions for the manufacture of machinery, as well as for new applications.  He formed project groups to accomplish his objectives and paid close attention to his customers, whose needs led to the development of machinery to produce blind and zipper tapes; hook and eye, and mushroom-headed touch-close fasteners; and automobile safety belts; among other applications. To date, the company has garnered more than 700 patents for its innovations.

In the 1970s,  Müller introduced a line of narrow fabric needle looms, which offered more economical production than the shuttle looms they replaced. The company also expanded its product range to include warping, warp crochet, finishing and make-up machinery; and programming systems including computer-aided design and manufacturing, and enterprise resource planning.

In 1982, Müller, who oversaw the company's expansion without ever securing external loans, established the J. & T. Müller Foundation to guarantee its autonomy and continuity. He also opened the Müllerhof as a meeting place and center for narrow fabrics activities.

In 1992, he transferred management of the holding company to Christian Kuoni, who has the support of the decision-making members of the Müller family.

In 1997, Müller founded Jakob Müller Technologie to conduct research and development of new products, the latest being the prototype Müller MDL digital-direct weaving system with direct heddle drive.

January 2004