Our story starts eighty years ago in April 1938. To be exact on two days in April. On the 26th and 29th of April, Eugen Habermaass, along with Anton Engel and Karl Wehrfritz, signed the articles of agreement which founded the two companies that are known as HABA and Wehrfritz today and that have become part of a larger family – the HABA Family of Companies.
Setting up in uncertain times and with limited resources in the small Upper Franconian town of Rodach was a gamble. The initial founding partnership did not last long. By 1940 Eugen Habermaass was solely responsible for both operations. But as the son of an established Swabian merchant family, he had entrepreneurial spirit in his blood. With the right woman by his side and a strong team behind him, Eugen Habermaass steered both companies through the difficult war years. HABA established itself as a producer of children’s furniture, games and wooden toys, whilst Wehrfritz became an outfitter for social institutions, mainly kindergartens.
The history of the HABA Family of Companies starts with Eugen and Luise Habermaass. Following the untimely death of her husband, Luise Habermaass continued the work he had started. In 1988 she was awarded the freedom of the town for her outstanding achievements. Luise Habermaass died in 2003 at the age of 97. The nursery that was founded a year later, to accommodate employees’ children, was named after her.
Then in 1955, Eugen Habermaass died suddenly and unexpectedly. He left behind his wife and four children. At the time, Luise Habermaass was a 48 year old, single mother with no business or technical training. But without hesitation she took a courageous step and took over the running of the company. She took things further. Over the decades that followed, with the active support of loyal employees, Luise Habermaass performed a small economic miracle.
In 1961 Klaus Habermaass joined the company having done a carpentry apprenticeship and studied at the state school of engineering in Rosenheim. The 24 year old started as plant assistant and gradually took on the technical, finance and development management. Ultimately he became the managing partner. His three children, Sabine, Heike and Volker Habermaass, who all now work for the company, grew with and in the business.
Just like the HABA Family of Companies, Klaus Habermaass has reached his 80th year. He has devoted 57 years of his life to the company. Longer than anyone else. He has now entrusted the company to his children and nieces. He knows the company philosophy is safe with them. So he can concentrate on his garden, his old fruit species, his bees and his wire-haired dachshund Fritz.
And, boy, did it grow! Over the years we got bigger. We built. We invested. We expanded. Whilst our company headquarters have always been in Bad Rodach, in 1979 we ventured across the pond and since then HABA has operated in the USA too. France, Poland and Asia followed, and then India in 2018.
Gradually over time, more and more members joined our family. Since 1987 JAKO-O has been making day-to-day life with children easier with their well thought out fashions and clever products. Since 2004 they have had some clothing collections that are not aimed at children, but at teenagers with the FIT-Z brand and women with Qiéro!. Growth since 2009: the project Schul- und Objekteinrichtungen GmbH in Eisleben has become part of the HABA Family of Companies. In it we have gained an innovative outfitter of educational institutions. And since 2015, men have also made their move: in “Heldbergs” online shop you’ll find “really good stuff”. In the same year we professionalized the children’s apps division with the help of Berlin start up Fox & Sheep. This collaboration quickly developed into the HABA Digitalwerkstatt (digital workshop). Here, children learn how to code and discover, through play, the opportunities the digital world has to offer. The Gesellschaft für digitale Bildung (society for digital learning) is the youngest member of the HABA Family of Companies. With it, we are paving the way for modern, digital education in schools.
Today, it is the grandchildren of the founding couple, Sabine, Heike and Volker Habermaass, Lena and Katja Dietz and Nina Raaf, who are continuing the company in the spirit of the past and with a clear commitment. The HABA Family of Companies is still a family company.
Our group of HABA companies is still a family company today, with the third generation of the owner family at the helm, supported by two managing directors, Harald Grosch and Karl Fischer. We have ten company brands and over 2,000 employees under our roof. We have long since stopped being just a “factory for highly polished wooden products” like we were at the start. Be it furniture, fashion, toys, education or digital items: more than 60,000 items make up our range.
As managing directors, Harald Grosch and Karl Fischer support the owner family. Harald Grosch has been part of the HABA Family of Companies for 40 years, 15 of which as managing director. Since 2016, the family firm has had a second managing director in Karl Fischer.
And throughout the eight decades one thing has remained unchanged: children and their families are our world and our passion. We are who we are for you. And we do what we do for you. Every day. And into the future.