In 1896 Franz Miederhoff (1869-1958) established in the center of Sundern-Endorf a small blacksmith's shop, which evolved in the following decades into today's Franz Miederhoff GmbH & Co. KG.
In the beginning the production range was chains for the agricultural market as well as fittings and harness for horses and other farm animals.
After heating-up the fire early in the morning it was forged during the day. In the evening the finished parts were carried by foot to a neighbouring village where they were polished. In the beginning just a simple hand truck was used to carry the heavy metal parts.
Later a donkey was used as pack animal and around 1920 a horse. By 1925 the catalogue of the „ Chain and Fitting Plant Franz Miederhoff“ listed more than 300 different articles.
Ten years later the strongly grown number of clients made it necessary to buy a car.
In 1939 the entry as general partnership (offene Handelsgesellschaft) in the trade register was made. Franz Miederhoff employed his sons Albert and Friedrich as co-partners after both had gratuated with a commercial education in Sundern.
After Albert Miederhoff died in 1945, Arnold Miederhoff, another son of Franz Miederhoff, joined the company in 1948 as partner.
The change of the agriculture economy and the ways of transport to engine-driven commercial vehicles, and the disappearance of horses and oxen in the postwar period made a redirection of the company necessary.
Step by step the production was changed from agricultural chains and fittings - in 1956, five forges were still running – to truck fittings, in the beginning mainly retainers and staples.
To keep step with the growth the premises were expanded several times.
By the end of the 1960's and into the 1970's the engineers Volker Miederhoff and Friedrich Miederhoff jun. took over the company as third generation and gave the future development of the company essential impulses: forceful modernisation and automation. Based on the production of truck tarpaulin fittings and a broad committment towards technical textiles made Franz Miederhoff GmbH & Co. KG in the following years a leading European manufacturer of fastening to make-up heavy duty technical textiles.
The expansion of the company made it necessary to relocate the premises and in 1987 the head office and factory moved to today's home in Sundern. After the German reunification the setup of a production factory in Saxon Sehmatal-Neudorf took place in 1991. The 20th anniversary of this site was celebrated in the spring 2011.
Inspired by the quick growth of large format digital printing technology, starting from 2000/01, Franz Miederhoff developed the new SIGN-WARE product line: a hanger and rail based system for deployment of large digital prints and trade fair installations. Since 2007, this product range has been spun off into a company of its own, known as as Sign-Ware GmbH & Co KG. Since the beginning of 2017 Sign-Ware has operated its own advertising technology manufacturer under the brand "Schmitte 1896".
Today, both companies, which originated in the historic chain forge, together employ approximately 200 people. The company's origins can nowadays be visited at the former seat in Sundern-Endorf, which has been transformed into a Museum of Local History called »Alte Schmitte«. Since January 2024, the former Franz Miederhoff oHG is trading as GmbH & Co. KG.