It was 1938 when the businessman Eugen Habermaass from Swabia decided to found not one but two companies in Bad Rodach: "Firma Anton Engel” together with Anton Engel and "Wehrfritz & Co” together with Karl Wehrfritz and Anton Engel. Habermaass had the commercial expertise and start-up capital, Engel was experienced in the production of lacquered wooden goods, and Wehrfritz was very familiar with the textile industry - the perfect combination for setting up a production and trading company. However, the partnership did not last. In 1940, both of Habermaass‘s partners pulled out and Eugen Habermaass now ran both companies on his own. Although the partnership with Karl Wehrfritz only lasted about six months, his name is still the brand name for products for nurseries, kindergartens and social institutions.
From 1940, Eugen Habermaass managed the two companies on his own - but always with the active support of his wife Luise, who was also registered as a limited partner. Because the company only had a few employees, Luise was not only involved on paper, she was very committed to the everyday running of the business: First she helped out in production, and later she managed the mail order business at Wehrfritz. With great business sense, Eugen Habermaass led the companies through the war years despite many shortages.
In 1950, HABA presented itself for the first time at a toy fair, and at the beginning of the 1950s, the company published its first multilingual catalog: in German and English. Business relations had also already been established with Switzerland and the Netherlands. It was during this period that the abbreviation "HABA" established itself as the definitive brand name, which turned out to work well in many foreign languages. This period of optimism, however, soon took a sad turn: Eugen Habermaass died suddenly on January, 30 1955.
Circumstances now forced his widow Luise to take on her late husband’s role, while at the same time having to look after her family. She was able to reply on the active support of her loyal employees, above all August Bayerlein in his capacity as authorized signatory. Her brother Gustav Fahrner was also at her side. At that time, it was very unusual for a woman to be the head of a company. Her excellent leadership skills meant that she ran the HABA FAMILYGROUP very successfully over the coming decades.
Not much later, in 1961, her son Klaus Habermaass joined the company after an apprenticeship in carpentry and a degree from the School of Engineering in Rosenheim. The 24-year-old initially held the position of operations assistant, but gradually took over the technology, finance and development departments, while Luise Habermaass focused on product range development at Wehrfritz. This division of labor worked very well.
She continued to remain closely associated with the company even after her son, Klaus Habermaass, had taken over its management. She regularly visited the company to make sure everything is going well and to provide her son with support and advice well into old age. Luise Habermaass died in 2003 at the age of 97. She became the first honorary citizen of Bad Rodach.
The third generation very much believe that the family business should continue to be run by the Habermaass family. Sabine Habermaass, Heike Habermaass and Volker Habermaass are actively involved in the everyday running of the company and have a good relationship with their staff. Their wish is to run the company as it’s always been run, with growth and the preservation of jobs in mind; at the headquarters in Bad Rodach we well as at the other HABA FAMILYGROUP sites. And this is accompanied by a love of natural raw materials and a focus on traditional craftsmanship. At the same time, they make sure that the company moves with the times and look to the future with curiosity and courage. For the Habermaass family, having close ties with and a love for their home region, and cosmopolitanism are not opposites - both are part of their family tradition. The focus of all their activities is on children and their families. That is why the sustainable use of resources has been part of the history of the HABA FAMILYGROUP since its foundation, and Klaus Habermaass' children are continuing this tradition.
If you want to grow you need the space for it – and this also applies to the company headquarters. What started out as a small family business consisting of a residential house and a neighboring factory building grew over the decades to become today's medium-sized company with some 2000 employees and four sites in Rodach. Construction activities have always been an integral part of the company.
The company started out modestly with the private house of the Habermaass family at August-Grosch-Straße and the building next door, which was the company headquarters. Plant I was initially built next to the family’s house. The plant was expanded again and again over the years until the family home was finally demolished in the 1970s to make more space for Plant I.
In 1955, furniture production was moved to the neighboring former ice cellar, which Eugen Habermaass had bought in 1949. The ice cellar is the only one of the old buildings from the early days which still exists today; after extensive reconstruction works, it now forms, barely recognizably, part of Plant II. The company continued to grow rapidly, and both sites had to be extended several times. In 1987 even these extended plants became too small and Plant III was built at Werner-von-Siemens-Strasse, which, among other things, now accommodates the high-bay warehouse. The fourth site, the Elsa warehouse, is located at Elsaer Strasse.
The company headquarters are located opposite Plant I. Here, the old Brauhof and Leschenhof buildings had been gradually demolished and were replaced with today’s state-of-the-art headquarters. The headquarters consists of two buildings, the new “Brauhof” building and the new “Leschenhof” building, which are connected. These modern and sustainably constructed impressive HABA FAMILYGROUP headquarters have a natural and colorful design which perfectly reflects the company's philosophy.
1938 Eugen Habermaass together with Anton Engel and Karl Wehrfritz signed the founding contracts of the two companies which today are known as HABA and Wehrfritz.
1940 After Anton Engel and Karl Wehrfritz had left, Eugen Habermaass became the sole managing director of the two companies.
1955 Following the death of her husband, Luise Habermaass took over the management of the company.
1961 Klaus Habermaass joins the company. He initially held the position of operations assistant, then worked in the technology, finance and development departments before taking over as managing partner.
1971 The number of employees grew to 193.
1978 The company now had 300 employees.
1980 The leap across the pond: HABA takes over Skaneateles Handicrafters in the US and renames the company T. C. Timber. Since 2002, the company name has been HABA USA.
1987 A new addition to the HABA FAMILYGROUP: JAKO-O was in its infancy. The first catalog included: »GEMINOs«, HABA doll's prams and ab trainers. JAKO-O presented its first "real" collection in its 1995 catalog.
Ever since the year 2000 the motto has been: “Von Eltern gedacht – für Kinder gemacht” - “Conceived by parents - made for children”.
1997 The company now had 661 employees.
2001 An old brewery yard was purchased and demolished, and a modern office building was built in its place (completed in 2006).
2003 Harald Grosch takes over as managing director of the company family. Luise Habermaass died at the age of 97. The nursery which was founded a year later for the children of employees (aged between six weeks and six years) was named after her. In the same year, the HABA FAMILYGROUP received the "Work and Family” award.
2006 The first catalogs of FIT-Z and Qiéro! Were published.
2008 The company now has 1,600 employees and more join all the time. Today, the company family has around 2,000 members of staff.
2009 A new addition to the company family: The HABA FAMILYGROUP acquired a stake in project GmbH in Eisleben. The company also expanded abroad. In the same year, the Wehrfritz branch in Poland was set up. At home in Bad Rodach, meanwhile, JAKO-O Familystore GmbH & Co. KG was founded.
2011 On March 11, Klaus Habermaass celebrated his 50th anniversary with the company.
2012 The “Brauhof 2” complex (today’s new “Leschenhof“) was completed, which also completed the modern company headquarters. The complex is DGNB-certified (German Sustainable Building Council).
2013 The company celebrated its 75th anniversary.
2015 The new Heldbergs online shop selling “richtig gutes Zeug“ (great stuff) was set up.
2016 The HABA FAMILYGROUP gained a second managing director: Karl Fischer. In the same year, the family business joined the “Society for Digital Education” (Gesellschaft für digitale Bildung).
2018 The HABA FAMILYGROUP celebrated its 80th birthday with 80 good deeds.
2019 The HABA FAMILYGROUP founded the initiative "zusammen.gutes.tun” (doing good together) to promote employee commitment.
2019 Management generation change: Tim Steffens succeeded Harald Grosch and Karl Fischer.
2020 HABA Digitalwerkstatt became a fully owned subsidiary of the HABA FAMILYGROUP.
2022 Wehrfritz and project become HABA Pro.