Johann Puch was born June 27, 1862 to Slovene-speaking parents in Sakušak, a part of historical Austria-Hungary that now lies in Slovenia. In 1885 moved to Graz, Austria (Slovene Gradec) in modern Austria, where in 1891 he started to manufacture bicycles which he sold in Austria, as well as exporting to England and France . His success led to the founding of his own company in 1899, which was called "Erste steiermärkische Fahrrad-Fabriks-AG" (First Styrian Bicycle Company).
The company started producing motorcycles in 1903 and cars in 1904. By 1912 Puch's factory employed 1,100 workers and manufactured 300 cars, 300 motorcycles and 16,000 bicycles per year. He retired in 1912 but remained honorary president of the company.