Although the tradition of the foundry in Maribor reaches further back into the history the official start of MLM is counted from the building of new facilities – the management building and the workshops at the present location in the year 1924. Until then the small craft enterprise started to gain the shape and the characteristics of an industrial enterprise. It employed only 20 workers. The name of the enterprise at the time was: eng. J. & H. Bühl, Foundry of Bells and Metals and Machine Building Workshop Maribor. One of the first products in the new foundry was a big copper bell which was till then the biggest casted copper bell in the Kingdom of SHS, it was made for the Franciscan church in Maribor and its weight was 3375 kg.
The name Mariborska livarna first appeared in the title of the enterprise in the year 1929, when the enterprise entered the register with the title Mariborska livarna and Metal Manufacturer eng. Hugo Lenhard & Co. – Maribor. At that time the assortment of the production was spread from the production of bells and other castings and wine armatures to numerous different armatures and other products.
The enterprise awaited the Second World War under the name Mariborska livarna and Metal Manufacturer Joh. Pengg. The owner took over the enterprise after long years of commotion in the business operation in the year 1931, he stabilised the business operation and started the production of tractable brass with the purchase of a big press in the year 1936. This business move did not only enable the existence but also the development of Mariborska livarna. During the war the owner has changed the status of the factory into a branch office of his factory in Austria. The management has transformed in a way that that it was completely German also regarding affiliation to the Hitler regime at that time, which had as a consequence that Mariborska livarna awaited the end of the war in ruins.
The period after the Second World War has started with the entire renovation of the factory. At the old location they have entirely renovated the abandoned and the totally demolished bell foundry, the department for drawn brass and the department for the production of Bergmann's pipes and partly also the forging plant of brass casts. Namely only the main management building with some outhouse facilities was not demolished. Mariborska livarna Maribor was officially founded in the year 1946 when numerous enterprises joined -venture; Kovina, Pontos, Pasarstvo Kager, Livarna Bühl and Mariborska livarna and Metal Manufacturer Joh. Pengg.
At the start of the year 1946 the renovation works were almost completed and the production was coming into the normal track. There were 168 workers employed. The production programme was chosen regarding the demands and based on the programme of the previous enterprises and the new production was thus based on the already gained technology and tradition. They produced pressed and drawn products (brass bar, wire and profiles), die-casting parts of non-ferrous metals in sand, construction framework and assembly & armatures. Despite the rather unsystematically and non-accurate approach to the renovation of the production the demand of the renovating home land prevailed, the number of employees was constantly increasing and the demands for big quantities of quality products were inexhaustible. The inventiveness of the workers also came to expression because they solved many problems with inventiveness and they made many machines by themselves and thus they enabled the production of the already gained products and also the extension of the assortment. Since the year 1945 and till the year 1954 196 different suggestions for a rationalisation were given, and also innovations and inventions, which placed the enterprise in the very top of the metal industry in Yugoslavia. They have manufactured two electro-induction furnaces for the first time in Yugoslavia ever.
Already in the year 1947 the production of forgings made of brass started that helped to a more rational and better quality production of armatures and fittings. In the year 1948 a new group of products of bath furnace with cylinders was introduced, which were produced until the year 1960. The year 1949 is marked with the introduction of new groups of products of die-casted parts made of aluminium and zinc alloys and flexible pipes. For the first time in Yugoslavia the production of die–casting parts was introduced. With this production the enterprise became an important supplier in the developing machine and automotive and electrical industry, where they needed pressed parts, mould castings and forgings.
In the year 1954 for Mariborska livarna Maribor the plan for the period 1954 – 1960 was approved, whereby it has to be pointed out that it was a demanding investment programme, which emphasised the necessity of the increase of the production, the maximal efficiency of the existing capacities, the consideration of the market and the spreading of the production assortment. There was an almost 350 percent increase of capacity estimated and efficient endeavour of all the employees.
In the year 1957 the production of mould-castings from brass and aluminium alloy started. With this technology the quality of the armatures has improved and new types of sanitary armatures were gained. In these years the MLM has started to export its products to demanding European markets and to American markets. Because of the bigger demand for raw materials in the year 1959 the department for the regeneration of waste raw materials and with the macro separation of slag was built. In this period a lot of modern machines were purchased as forging presses WM and LU for press casting, IDRE machines for shaping and the preparation of sand and for the manufacturing of the cores, machines for continuing casting VGM, treatment machines Wiest …
Till the year 1960 the enterprise has made great progress, it has gained space, facilities which were mostly in bad shape and it has purchased the necessary machines. The number of employees has exceeded the number 1.000. But everything was happening uncontrollable in the frame of the short term possibilities. In the year 1960 it was approached to a different philosophy – they started to plan the development of the factory long term and in whole. With the investment in the reconstruction of MLM it has awaited the year 1965 in a totally different situation, it has become a modern enterprise that was able to introduce new industrial principals in its business operation.
The new development strategy and the accompanying investment programme, which were accepted in the year 1963, defined the basic activity of the enterprise regarding the manner of production in three main groups: the group of blocks, the group of semi products and the group of final products. Besides the planning of the development there has been also a period of adaptation and urgent facility spreading. To achieve a better technological functionality and better working conditions for the employees the older already existing buildings were adapted and the internal transport among the turning-points was settled and additionally new modern dressing rooms and washing facilities were built. With these changes the technological and the organisational scheme of the enterprise was completely changed.
At that time the enterprise started to invest in its employees, who joined the trade union, the cultural and sports associations, there was also a worker and employee restaurant, they even had their own shoemaker workshop. MLM also had its own vacation facility Livar and it built flats for its employees.
In the year 1967 MLM introduced the brand mark ARMAL and in the year 1973 also another one, (because in Lenart a new turning-point of aluminium radiators has started to operate), which was known under the name of AKLIMAT. Both brand marks have promoted their own brand marks very well as also the parent company Mariborska livarna Maribor in the following decades.
The development that was reached by the enterprise in seventy years has increased the quantity of the production and it has especially variegated the assortment of the products. The offer was enriched by a greater part of one-handed batteries and radiator valves.
MLM has experienced the highest growth in the period from 1984 to 1993, when the brand marks ARMAL and AKLIMAT were established at the domestic and at the foreign market. In that period also two big investment programmes Baker II (Copper II) and Baker III (Copper III) were concluded. In Lenart they started to produce axes for washing machines, the enterprise has bought a new vacuum smelting furnace and with the novelties they have completely automatized the casting and a new line for painting parts of sanitary armatures was introduced.
The year 1983 is regarded as the beginning of the computer- managed production process, in the year 1990 it was invested in the first production robot. With the year 1992 the programme of the sanitary equipment under the brand mark ARMAL was introduced.
Because of the narrowing of the south markets in the year 1990 the position of MLM has started to get worse, after the independence of the Republic of Slovenia the thorny way of replacing loss of the domestic market with the substitution of the demanding markets of Western Europe has begun. The deficit of sale as well as in the amount as in the profit, the politics of falling behind the currency rates after the domestic inflation, the irresolution of strategic areas at the level of the state also have exhausted the system MLM, the business results were bad despite the big efforts to improve the situation.
In the year 1994 MLM found itself in a situation without raw materials and without money and also the process of privatization has begun. Livarna has carried the consequences of numerous changes and because there was no understanding for their problems from the government. As an exporter MLM has lost much due to overvalued exchange rate of domestic currency (Tolar) and the consequences could be felt in the entire business operation. In this period also the number of employees has decreased. In the privatization process of the enterprise the certificates of the employees, the ex-employees, the retired employees and the unpaid wages were included. In the year 1997 the previous mentioned owned most of the property of the company.
In the year 1999 the name ALUTEC was for the first time mentioned for the programme of (press) die-casting.
At the end of the century the Vision of MLM for a four year period was accepted and in the year 2001 also the Development vision of MLM. In the same year an extensive investment cycle of the reconstruction of the production has started, which has reached its peak in the year 2002. In the period from 2000 – 2004 MLM has invested 30 million EUR in its technical and technological modernisation. With the investments MLM has modernised its production.
In the year 2003 the reconstruction of the production in the direction of products with a higher added value started. Thus MLM in the year 2003 has abolished the programme of the continuous casting of bars and pipes made of copper. Alloys - bronze, at the same time it has decreased the amount of the production of brass bars. Meanwhile the production of die-casting parts has increased exceedingly of which the production in the year 2004 has doubled. That year MLM has made its way into the automotive industry at the field of aluminium die-casting parts and it has become the supplier for VW, Audi, BMW and Opel.
In the year 2004 the project ARMAL FOND started which goal was to make particularly all the primary school and the middle school youth aware of the importance of quality drinking water.
In the year 2005 MLM modernised the production. The investment into the foundry machine IDRA 1750 has ensured MLM the production of heavier, more than 10-kilogram aluminium assembly parts for car motors. The modernisation of the forging plant has enabled the forging of technologically demanding forging parts. In the same year in autumn the contract about a long term cooperation with one of the biggest producers of sanitary armatures with the enterprise Grohe was signed.
In the year 2006 the modernisation of the information system started. PE (Business unit) ALUTEC has made and introduced four articles with a more demanding mechanical treatment, of which the serial production started in March 2007 with the start-up of the treatment centre SAS.
The year 2008 the system of the environmental treatment was introduced based on the demands of the certificate ISO 14001:2004 for the entire MLM as an integrated system with existing systems of quality management based on the demands of ISO 9001 and ISO / TS 16949. The brand mark ARMAL has already the second year in a row received the independent and highly valued title Super brands Slovenia 2008 that was given to the best 40 brand marks in Slovenia. After a good start at the beginning of the year MLM was struck by the world's financial and economic crisis and recession and it has shaken the planned company growth and it returned MLM into the situation from the year 2003. A sharp decrease of orders has begun, at first at the field of the automotive industry and after that also at the semi products from brass and at the radiators. At the new arisen conditions the MLM responded with measures for soothing the crisis in the enterprise.
The recession continued in the following year 2009, which was one of the hardest years for MLM till now. It was necessary to reconstruct the enterprise and MLM has decided to support the automotive part and therefore at the end of the year 2010 the production of the programme PE (Business unit) Baker was stopped. Despite the end of the crisis MLM was more and more facing liquidity problems. In the year 2012 two subsidiary enterprises were founded: ARMAL d.o.o. and SANITEC d.o.o., in which MLM has transferred the sanitary part of the programme with the intention to find a strategic partner. After an unsuccessful solving of the liquidity problems in the year 2013 the insolvency procedure over the new founded enterprises ARMAL and SANITEC has begun and for MLM the procedure of compulsory settlement has started. A month and a half later the compulsory settlement has started also over the parent company the company for disabled MLM – STORITVE d.o.o. Altogether about 450 workers have lost their jobs. The compulsory settlement for MLM was legally enforced as per 31st of December 2013.
In the year 2014 MLM d.d. started with the activities of a wholesome financial and business operation reconstruction, which will enable a long term competitive ability of the company. With the proper activities MLM can continue and accelerate its business operation, it can strengthen the confidence and generate a real rise of the company value.