In the sixties Erich Fitz realizes his childhood dream: already at the age of 8 he wanted to make moving pictures able to trigger strong emotions. After a period at Arri’s camera assembly gathering knowledge about cameras he started to work as camera assistant and later as cameraman.
Learning about the requirements of the various production companies gives birth to the idea of founding the company Filmgeräteverleih Waltraut Fitz GbR.
Later, in 1972, a partner joined the company.
Many years of hard work without free weekends and vacation finally pay off. Erich Fitz quits his job as cameraman, which he has carried out in parallel, as the professional rental company begins to prosper despite the overwhelming competition.
After a short period of time already 4 persons are working in this company. The team tries to differ from competing companies by responding to special customer requirements. For a special shooting on a ship the first dolly is built. It is further developed resulting in the light-weight dolly, which has been successful on the market until today.
The success achieved is the motivation for further developments. Initial experience can be gathered by modifying and changing Elemack camera dollies according to practice requirements.
Based upon market requirements globally the first computer-controlled, electro-mechanical camera dolly has been designed. The first prototype is finished in 1982.
An employee compares the smooth, silent, but at the same time powerful movements of the dolly with a Panther – the new name of the dolly is born.
The 2nd prototype is already used at the set and the complete movie “Never-ending story” is shot with this dolly in the Bavaria Studios in Munich.
Quickly the advantages of the Panther in comparison to competing dollies become a topic in the movie branch worldwide.
In 1986 a separate sales company is registered, which is also named “Panther”.
The “Panther Corporation of America” is founded in 1987 – a sales and rental subsidiary in Hollywood run by Florian Granderath.
Erich Fitz wants to be more independent and increasingly relies on resources of his own. He cancels the contracts with third party vendors and founds the HTG High Tech Gerätebau GmbH in 1988. From now on HTG serves as exclusive system supplier for Panther.
In 1990 both companies, Panther and HTG move to Oberhaching, Grünwalder Weg 28c – at that time plenty of room was available for both companies.
At the same time Panther takes over the leadership in the European market with regard to turnover, quantities and technology.
In 1990, as well, the “Super Panther” is awarded the technical Oscar (A.M.P.A.S.) in Hollywood. New, innovative products such as the Pegasus crane are successfully introduced to the market.
In the meantime Erich Fitz separated from his former business partners and can pursue his own visions of progress and expansion.
In 1991 Panther’s Rental department is restructured and after another few years subsidiaries in Prague and Hamburg can be opened up. Thanks to highly motivated and engaged employees the rental departments are among the most successful in Germany and the Czech Republic today.
In 1997 Erich Fitz takes over the competing companies Cinerent in Zurich with the products Cine-Jib and Swiss-jib and Filmtechnik Rose, another rental company, in Hamburg.
In 1998 Panther Sales and Rental and HTG Gerätebau have already 70 employees. Due to the high quality standard HTG has managed to become an A-supplier of complex High-Tech machines for renowned companies, e.g. in the field of manufacturing bills, credit cards, compact disks etc.
International prices such as the “Golden Frog” or the “Cinec Award” are awarded to Panther for special performances and developments in cinematography.
The premises soon become too small, new floor space has to be rented. Therefore in 1999 decision is made to construct a new building, which offers enough space to unite all departments under one roof.
This year Panther GmbH and HTG GmbH move into the new building, which has been designed and built as wished by Erich Fitz and his employees. In the meantime the company has 120 employees.
Panther Broadcast is founded to better support the video industry. The division starts out with a whole range of new gear. All new products originate under the supervision of Andy Fitz the son of founder Erich Fitz, while the recently returned Florian Granderath takes care of marketing.
Panther Rental open their first sound stage next door to the rental outlet.
For the second time the “Cinec Award” goes to Panther for their Galaxy crane system.
Panther Broadcast launches a line of fluid heads and tripods excelled by the unique X 15 fluid head providing continuous balance and drag.
Panther buys all rental equipment from Cinecam and Cinelight and is integrated in the Panther Rental Department.
Panther receives its third Cinec Award for the Foxy Advanced Crane System. It becomes a hot sellng item due to good price-performance ratio.
Panther celebrates during Cinec its 25th anniversary and the thousands Dolly with electromechanical column. Finally Design of Trixy RemoteHead and Twister Dolly is presented.
The staff of Panther Group of companies with its daughter HighTechGerätebau GmbH and the offices in Prague and Hamburg counts nearly 200.
Many used Panther Dollies gets modified by „the best invention for years“, the High-Low-Turnstile.
Despite of the world economic crisis, Panther developed a completely new Dolly, the Tristar.
The Entrepreneur family Fitz makes an extensive strategic decision and stops the Rental business. They don´t want to compete in rental business with there customers any longer. Panther sells its Rental department Prague to Arri.
Panther sells its Rental departments in Munich, Hamburg and Berlin to Bavaria Studio Group. The strategic decision of 2011 is finalized.
Andy Fitz buys from his family the company´s shares and is now single shareholder of Panther GmbH.
Successful operation of PixyPlus Crane during Olympic games in London.