In 1868, the engineer Matthias Spenlé constructed a shoe last copying machine made of metal. This machine was able to manufacture a pair of shoe lasts which could be adjusted or graded in length and width at the same time. With this patent, registered in Chicago (USA), Spenlé returned to Europe to look for locations at which he could realise his ideas - at first in Alsace and then in Germany.
The best raw material conditions at the South Harz
The South Harz in the centre of Germany was the ideal location because of its rich beech tree populations but also because of the advanced metal industry. The shoe last factory Schuhleistenfabrik M. Spenlé was established in Ellrich in the year 1876. With the machine developed by Spenlé, which was state-of-the-art technology at the time, it was possible to produce accurate shoe lasts in large quantities. It wasn’t long until the shoe lasts made by M. Spenlé were famous in Germany and its neighbouring countries. Many awards bear witness to this development.
Stagnation in the GDR
After the Second World War, the company was experiencing difficult times because the remaining private enterprises were severely disadvantaged in the GDR economy. This led to the socialisation in 1972, causing the complete stagnation with regards to technological and economical development.
Recovery after the reunification
After the German reunification, things started to look up again for the company M. Spenlé. Old traditions have been kept to this day but we are also using the latest technology in order to simplify and speed up processes. With the modern production, it is now possible to develop shoe lasts for orthopaedic shoemaker using powerful CAD software which are then produced using state-of-the-art CNC technology.