Hannes W. Keller: January 31st 1939 – February 15th 2023
Mar 14 2023
KELLER Druckmesstechnik has just announced the passing of their company founder, Hannes W. Keller. We have fond memories of his visionary way of thinking, his sharp intellect and his humorous, rebellious nature. Neither will we ever forget his open, direct manner.
Hannes W. Keller, known as HWK, was a man who knew what he wanted; a headstrong man who loved to explore uncharted territory. He could be difficult, didn’t mince his words and was sometimes capable of rubbing people up the wrong way. He began his professional career at Kistler Instruments AG in Winterthur in 1964, before joining the Honeywell research centre in Minneapolis, USA. Together with his family, HWK made a life for himself in the United States, where he found the inspiration for his ground-breaking invention.
In 1966, Hannes W. Keller invented the integrated silicon measuring cell together with A.R. Zias. Manufactured using semiconductor methods, this pressure sensor allows physical pressure to be measured with great accuracy. The piezoresistive technology is now used worldwide and remains at the heart of KELLER’s pressure sensors. To develop the static measuring principle, HWK needed employees who were trained in precision engineering. And he found them back in Switzerland. In the early 1970s, HWK presented the first compact, piezoresistive, steel-protected pressure transducers to the market at the Hannover Messe trade fair.
To allow him to continue developing silicon pressure sensors based on his own ideas, HWK founded the company «H.W. Keller dipl. phys. ETH Druck- und Kraftmesstechnik» in Winterthur in 1974. Just 10 years later, the successful company expanded internationally, opening its first foreign subsidiary in Germany. With this, the groundwork was laid and KELLER, together with the 480 people it now employs, still benefits today from this solid foundation that Hannes W. Keller built almost 50 years ago. KELLER Druckmesstechnik has always remained loyal to its original home of Winterthur, where production with full vertical integration continues to this day.
Hannes W. Keller took a step back from managing the company in 2012 for health-related reasons. However, for the next four years, he could regularly be found in his rocking chair in the manager’s office.
Even in the early years of KELLER Druckmesstechnik, it was important to Hannes W. Keller to give something back to ‘his’ city. Social commitment was a matter close to his heart and it extended much further than saving FC Winterthur in 2001. From sports sponsorship and help for up-and-coming talent to social projects and cultural engagement – many organisations benefitted from his support, although he preferred to keep it a secret from the public. HWK also set up ‘Möwe’, his company’s own day nursery, and a youth project that gives young people who leave school without plans in place the chance to secure an apprenticeship or a job. Both initiatives are still around today and have had a great impact on many people at KELLER over the years. Some of them still work for the company or have successfully made a career for themselves in the Winterthur region.
Whether recently or a long time ago, whether just once or time and time again – anyone who had the pleasure of getting to know Hannes W. Keller will never forget this unique man and will carry a piece of him with them.
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