19th century industrial Europe is the era of coal and steam. The period sees the development of metallurgy, public works and, several decades later, electricity. In this dynamic time, three exceptional European entrepreneurs built the industrial dynasties that would give rise to the SPIE Group.
Eugène Schneider and his brother Adolphe found an industrial group bearing their family name. Activities develop in the steel, metallurgy, mechanical, rail, weapons and – in the 20th century – electric industries. In the late 19th century, corporate activities (grouped under the name CITRA in 1949) build on these industrial activities.
Ernest Goüin, born in 1815, founds Établissements Ernest Goüin et Cie, a company chartered to develop rail materials and infrastructure. This company will later become the Société de Construction des Batignolles.
Baron-General Édouard Empain, a visionary industrialist from Belgium, is awarded a contract to build the electrical infrastructure for the Paris Metro. This company is renamed the Société Parisienne pour l'Industrie Électrique, or SPIE, in 1946.