The Häfele Story

  • How it all began

    1923 - 1944

  • Reconstruction

    1945 - 1959

  • Modern times

    1960 - 1979

  • Growth

    1980 - 1999

  • Turn of the millennium

    2000 - 2017

  • Häfele today

    2018 – today

Shop business in Nagold 1930
Company founder Adolf Häfele
1923

Established

Häfele was established during a period of profound political and social upheaval. The Weimar Republic is just a few years old, and the consequences of the First World War are still evident everywhere.

In 1923, when inflation reaches its climax in Germany, two young men (Adolf Häfele and Hermann Funk) take their fate into their own hands: on 1st December they establish the specialist shop for hardware "Products from the hardware and tool industry" in Aulendorf, Württemberg.

Adolf Häfele and staff in front of the Häfele hardware store in Nagold
1927

Moving to Nagold

The fledgling company specialises in joinery and carpentry supplies and moves to Nagold, the former centre of furniture production in Württemberg.

From here, Adolf Häfele travels around the area, which is dominated by joineries and furniture factories, notes down the names and requirements of customers and therefore establishes a first regional network.

His creed is still extremely important today: personal contact, expert technical knowledge, reliability and requirement-related, fast delivery.

1930

Successful start-up years

Adolf Häfele established the first wholesale warehouse and organised the distribution of the goods. With innovative products and excellent service, he is ahead of his time and acquires many new customers.

Häfele exhibition stand, Strasbourg, 1933
1933

First exports

Häfele participates in a foreign trade fair for the first time in 1933 and presents "furniture fittings for bedrooms and kitchens" in Strasbourg.

The company, which is still in its infancy, receives the "Gold Medal" for the design of the exhibition stand. The export of fittings to neighbouring countries is also gathering pace.

By this point, Häfele employs a sizeable force of travelling salesmen who visit customers at home and in neighbouring countries.

The first Häfele Furniture Fittings Catalogue
1939

First catalogue

The first furniture fittings catalogue was published in 1939 with a circulation of 20,000 copies. It is distributed domestically and abroad, and forms the basis for the international sale of Häfele products.

The symbolic title picture shows a globe, which becomes the trade mark of the rapidly growing company.  

Häfele company building in Freudenstädter Straße 70 in Nagold
1945

New beginning

Adolf Häfele takes his company safely and largely unscathed through the Second World War. After the end of the war, the plight in the country is great. On the other hand, the reconstruction results in keen demand for fittings and joinery requirements. Things are quickly moving upwards again. In February 1946, Walther Thierer, Häfele's nephew, joins the company.

1948

25 years of Häfele

In October 1948, Häfele celebrates its 25th anniversary. At this time, the company is well positioned: with a total of 29 employees and revenue rising to nearly two million DM.

Walther Thierer
1949

Change to company management

Company founder Adolf Häfele dies in 1949, just four years after the end of the second World War. Right in the middle of the reconstruction efforts in Germany, his 26 year old nephew Walther Thierer takes over the management of the company with the support of the Häfele and Thierer family shareholders.

Road sale after a major fire in 1950
1950

Foundation stone for the modern company

1950 starts with a catastrophe, which takes a turn for the better: a fire destroys the company building on New Year's night. But Walther Thierer acts quickly: first, a road sale bridges the emergency and the transactions are resumed in makeshift barracks. At the same time, the foundation for today's headquarters in Nagold is laid. The result is a new building with offices and a warehouse space totalling 2,500 square metres.

Production of special fittings for furniture ornaments and brass grilles
1954

Entry into production

In April 1954, Häfele started his own production of special fittings for furniture ornaments and brass grilles. The demand for the products grows to such an extent within a short time that the production area has to be extended several times.

Nagold distribution centre, 1974
The first foreign branch is established in Kreuzlingen
1960

A spirit of optimism

In the economic miracle years after World War II, Häfele initially concentrates on the domestic market.

But it's only a matter of time before the company is active abroad again. In 1964, Häfele took advantage of the spirit of optimism of the 1960s and founded the first foreign subsidiary in Switzerland.

Häfele exhibition bus
1966

Häfele exhibition bus

The export department is developed in Nagold and a company-owned sales organisation for France, "Häfele France GmbH & Co." is established.

The travelling activities of the sales pioneers in Nagold become even more important and the first mobile Häfele exhibition departs on tour. In the following years, the bus also serves as an exhibition stand abroad.

The Complete Häfele
1971

The "Complete Häfele"

"The Complete Häfele" appears for the first time, the world's biggest reference tool for furniture fittings.

The Complete Häfele does not just contain 25,000 items for purchasing, but helps with detailed drawings and assembly instructions – it is not just a reference tool but also a teaching tool.

1972

Across the Big Pond

A large exhibition bus makes a 12,000-mile trip through the furniture centres of the USA. This marks the beginning of the Häfele success story in the United States: Häfele America Co. is founded in 1973 .

These mobile exhibits have been deployed successfully in other countries and are often the first step in opening a market. At the beginning of the 1970's, Häfele therefore achieves an export proportion of 40 percent and is one of the pioneers and founders of export nation Germany.

First editions of The Complete Häfele in English, French and Spanish
1973

"The Complete Häfele"

"Der Große Häfele" appears in the global languages of English, French and Spanish under the title of "The Complete Häfele", "Le Grand Häfele" and "El Gran Häfele" respectively.

Today this comprehensive reference tool for hardware technology is available in more than 20 languages, along with many special editions aimed at specific target groups and countries.

Distribution centre in Nagold
1974

Start of in-house developments

Häfele sets up its own in-house development department. Within a short time, the company builds up a reputation with innovative fittings, and has a long-term influence on furniture manufacturing with its powerful solutions.

The same year, the distribution centre in Nagold is ready to start operations, laying the foundation for Häfele's logistics services. With a high-rise storage facility in which track guided vehicles pick products off the shelves, Häfele was a quick and reliable logistics partner, even at that time.

Setup of national Häfele sales offices
Company building at Häfele Malaysia
1980

Additional foreign subsidiaries

Häfele establishes its third foreign subsidiary in Great Britain. Things then happen quickly: branches follow in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Ireland, The Netherlands, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Japan… a real establishment boom occurs.

Today Häfele is represented by its own subsidiary or a sales office on every continent.

Hans Nock
1982

Enduring values

In 1982 Hans Nock, export manager in Nagold since the 1960s, takes over management of the company and becomes the "Engine" of Häfele’s foreign business. Growth succeeds in a reputable way and from the power of the family-run company. The proportion of exports increases to 70 per cent.

Minifix connector system
1983

Minifix

Because of exact knowledge of the requirements of its customers, Häfele becomes a problem solver in many cases. One such example is Häfele's development of the Minifix connector system with the centric ball principle, which continues to be successful around the world, even today. The diminutive Minifix revolutionises the industry and speeds up the development of the fledgling DIY furniture sector.

Häfele's own production plant Häfele Berlin now produces 500 million Minifix in 30 versions.

Häfele sales office in Kaltenkirchen
1985

Set-up of national sales offices

Häfele puts its faith in proximity to the customer from the very start. Visits to partners on site and individual attention are a fixed constituent of the corporate culture. From 1985, investments are made in setting up sales offices in Germany. It's now all about shorter distances to the customer, smaller sales units and personal contact. Integrated showrooms make a visit to the sales offices particularly interesting and are very popular with customers.

Häfele Teleservice 24
1995

First orders via the Internet

At interzum 1995, Häfele started with the electronic information and ordering channel "Teleservice 24" and was thus open 24 hours a day. In April 1998, the range of services was expanded and Häfele's first homepage launched. Both the company and the product segments are presented digitally. The "Easy Link" online shop celebrated its premiere at Interzum 2001. Since then, the entire product range is available online and German customers have access to over 50,000 articles which can be ordered quickly and easily around the clock at the click of a mouse.

 

Häfele main administration in Nagold
1996

Development of Häfele Nagold

The main administration in Nagold is also extended. Häfele constructs a new building on an adjacent, 5,000 square metre lot at Adolf-Häfele-Straße 1.

Today, a large and modern showroom, conference rooms, offices, the data centre and a test workshop are located in the award-winning building. The company strategies are developed in Nagold, and the product ranges are selected and documented. Central IT is located here, and from here, the global sales organizations are controlled.

Häfele Argentina
1997

Latin America

The flood of establishments wave covers the entire American continent. It is started in 1997 with a subsidiary in Mexico. Brazil follows in 1998, and Argentina in 1999.

Häfele company headquarters in Nagold
2002

China and Eastern Europe

Whilst the last "Häfele-free zones" on the map of western Europe are being acquired at the end of the 1990's and the beginning of the new millennium, the company is sending out feelers to eastern Europe and China. In 2002, Häfele establishes the first eastern European subsidiary in Poland. Turkey and China follow in 2005; Russia in 2006; Ukraine and Romania in 2009; and Kazakhstan, Serbia and the Czech Republic in 2010.

Sybille Thierer
2003

The courage for modernity

Sibylle Thierer, daughter of Walther Thierer, takes over the responsibility at the beginning of the new millennium in the third generation.

She paves the way to modernity, putting the focus on the use of innovative ideas and products in all decision-making.

Häfele 360° comprehensive project solution
2006

360° comprehensive project solutions

Häfele's 360° Project Service has been the basis of ongoing, successful business with architects, investors and builders since 2006. It encompasses manufacturer-independent procurement of architectural hardware and project fittings, the "StarTec" product range, the Dialock electronic access control system, countless planning manuals, and international project coordination by Häfele project managers.

Häfele Functionality
2007

Häfele Functionality

Häfele goes in new directions with the marketing strategy of "The Innovator of Functionality". "Functionality" becomes the seal of quality with which cabinet maker and joiner solutions can distinguish themselves with optimum functionality. The "Functionality World" exhibition opens in Nagold in the same year. The first edition of the "Häfele Home" magazine appears two years later, with innovative furniture and living ideas. The magazine inspires designers and architects as well as cabinet makers and joiners.

Häfele Engineering
2011

Häfele Engineering

Following the 360° comprehensive project solution on the construction site, Häfele bundles sales to the furniture industry in the newly-established industrial sales organisation Häfele Engineering GmbH & Co KG. It focusses exclusively on the requirements of the furniture industry – along the entire value creation chain.

2014

Room for further growth

In September 1972, Häfele started construction on the first stage of its distribution centre, a high-bay warehouse with five aisles and a bar warehouse with offices and common rooms. On 1 January 1974, 6,200 square metres of built-upon area were then put into operation. Today, 50 years later, the seven hectares purchased at that time are almost completely built-upon (53,000 sqm). In the future, Häfele will expand on the other side of Robert-Bosch-Strasse, where several years ago it commissioned a state-of-the-art production facility for packing hardware and fitting systems.

Digitale Möbelplanung
2014

Digitale Möbelplanung

Seit diesem Jahr können zahlreiche Planungs- und Konfigurations-Tools online angesteuert und im täglichen Betrieb effizient eingesetzt werden. Der Schreiner arbeitet in seiner gewohnten Umgebung weiter, plant aber sein Möbel von A-Z digital mit CAD, CAM und Konfiguratoren. Für jede Situation bietet Häfele digitale Services, die bei der Planung und Konstruktion unterstützen. So wird anspruchs-volle Beschlagtechnik nun kinderleicht digital verarbeitbar – von der Planung bis zur Fertigung.

 

Dynamische Innovationskraft
2016

Dynamische Innovationskraft

Das Flap Competence Center (FCC) in der ungarischen Hauptstadt Budapest feiert in diesem Jahr sein 25jähriges Jubiläum. Die Entwicklungs- und Produktionsstätte für innovative Klappenbeschläge steht stellvertretend für die Innovationskraft von Häfele und ist dabei Bestandteil von insgesamt fünf Produktionswerken, deren Produkte über die weltweit 37 Häfele Vertriebsniederlassungen in 150 Ländern der Welt verfügbar sind.

Kunden in aller Welt wünschen sich neueste Technologie gerne in Verbindung mit dem Standing eines jahrzehntelang am Markt erfolgreichen Unternehmens – diesen Status festigt Häfele stetig.

 

Häfele Azubis und DH-Studenten
2016

Verantwortung und Integration

Zwölf junge Geflüchtete aus neun Nationen beginnen in diesem Jahr eine zweijährige Ausbildung zum Fachlageristen bei Häfele in Nagold. Damit übernimmt Häfele als Leuchtturmbetrieb und als nationales Vorzeigebeispiel in Sachen betrieblicher Integrationsarbeit Verantwortung. Als eines der größten Unternehmen in der Region steckt Häfele seit Jahrzehnten viel Kraft in die Ausbildung im dualen System. Zwei Jahre später wird dieses gesellschaftliche Engagement mit dem Unternehmerpreis gewürdigt.

2016

TCH with new, modern look

Internet, catalogue or rather personal consultation with a specialist adviser? Häfele customers have the freedom to choose where and how they find out about the product range or place their order. The new catalogue helps with planning, selection and research, and is always a welcome companion in the workshop and office when a quick overview or familiarisation with a new topic is required.

Neue Website in Deutschland
2017

Neue Website

Der neue Auftritt im Internet ist nun online. Die Häfele-Markenwelt gibt es jetzt in einer neuen digitalen Dimension, höchst effektiv, äußerst einfach, selbsterklärend und mit vielen Vorteilen. Im neuen, modernen Onlineshop bestellt man sicherer, schneller und komfortabler denn je. Dieses Häfele Servicepaket schenkt mehr Unabhängigkeit und Zeit.

2018

Opening of the Lehrte distribution centre

Häfele opens a second distribution centre in Germany in Lehrte near Hanover. With an eye on the planned expansion of the Group in the coming years, Häfele is taking the next step and plotting a course for faster service. The existing distribution centre on the Wolfsberg in Nagold and the new warehouse in Lehrte, which will go into operation in the early summer of next year , are central elements of a new comprehensive European strategy in the logistics sector of the global company. The Häfele Group operated a total of 52 logistics locations worldwide in 2018.

2019

Nimbus – The new Häfele unit for light, acoustics and Smart

With the acquisition of Nimbus, Häfele announced to the professional world the strategic takeover of the Stuttgart-based LED luminaire and acoustic specialist. The company from Stuttgart has become the new global competence centre and the unit for the high-potential future areas of light, acoustics and smart within the Häfele Group from 1st September 2019 under the management of Jörg Schmid, the former managing director of the Häfele industrial division. Dietrich Brennenstuhl, the previous owner of the Nimbus Group, is now Managing Director Design & Innovation. He is therefore responsible for the Nimbus brand, the design language, innovation and communication.

2019

The international orientation deepens

With the establishment of the Häfele Adriatic subsidiary last July, Häfele has created another foothold in the Mediterranean: Häfele Adriatic is the 38th foreign sales company of the Group and serves the markets in Slovenia and Croatia. Things are also moving forward in Africa: Häfele has been servicing the East African countries of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and the Seychelles from its own office in Tanzania since February 2019. This second base on the African continent is part of Häfele’s preparations for growing its presence in the emerging market of East Africa. Overall the Group generated 80% of its revenue outside of Germany.

2020

Commitment to the location and to Europe

The parent company of the world's leading Häfele Group for furniture fittings and architectural hardware, electronic acces control systems, and LED lighting, Häfele GmbH and Co KG, changed its corporate form on 1st December 2020. Häfele Germany now operates under the name Häfele SE & Co. KG. “With the legal form of a “Societas Europaea” (SE), we are thinking ahead and making Häfele at the Nagold location, a globally acting family owned and operated business, fit for the future,” says Managing Director Sibylle Thierer. At Häfele, this is a very concrete way of laying the foundation for the assumption of responsibility by the 4th generation. At the same time, this makes a commitment to future independence as a family business.

2021

Moebelplus becomes a Häfele subsidiary

At the beginning of 2021, Häfele acquired the company moebelplus Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG. Moebelplus, a successful up-and-coming online retailer of electrical household appliances, will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary of Häfele under the operational management of the two current managing directors, Mathias Grummt and Rico Kellner. According to moebelplus, the company found the right partner in Häfele for its next development phase, because moebelplus significantly increases its reach among business customers thanks to the Häfele customer base, and becomes Häfele's new supplier of e-devices and other suitable products.

Thinking Ahead
Today

The motto is "Thinking ahead"

With a company history spanning almost 100 years, the family-owned company Häfele is a globally positioned and experienced specialist in intelligent hardware and fitting systems, lighting and electronic locking systems. Häfele employs more than 8,000 employees in 38 subsidiaries and numerous additional agencies all over the world. However, an exciting history is only one side of the story. and can only develop in the long term if the focus is always on the future. Focusing on moving forward and "Thinking ahead." - that is the credo we have written on our banner.

Want to find out more about Häfele? Read more in our company profile.

  • How it all began

    1923 - 1944

  • Reconstruction

    1945 - 1959

  • Modern times

    1960 - 1979

  • Growth

    1980 - 1999

  • Turn of the millennium

    2000 - 2017

  • Häfele today

    2018 – today