History of the HABA Family of Companies

Firmengebäude 1938

Foundation & Development

In 1938 the Swabian entrepreneur Eugen Habermaass decided to start not just one business in Rodach, but two: the company >> Firma Anton Engel << together with Anton Engel and >> Wehrfritz & Co. << with Engel and Karl Wehrfritz. Habermaass contributed his economic expertise and the starting capital, Engel possessed experience in the production of lacquered wooden products and Wehrfritz was very familar with the textile branch. Together, they were an ideal combination for starting a production and trading company. However, the partnership didn´t last long. Habermasss´s partners had left the companies by 1940; from this point onwards they were run solely by Habermaass. Although Karl Wehrfritz was only involved for six months, his name still remained in the firm name remainstoday.

From 1940 Eugen Habermaass ran both companies by himself, although his wife, who was registered as a limited partner, actively supported him from the beginning. Since he had only a few employees, Luise was not only a partner on paper; she devoted herself to the daily operations of the company. First she helped in the production line, and eventually she managed the mail order department at Wehrfritz. With great entrepreneurial skill, Eugen Habermaass got the companies through the war years, which were severely impacted by shortages.

In 1950 HABA was represented at a toy trade fair for the first time, and in the early 1950s their first bilingual catalog was published in German and English. The firm had also already established business relations with Switzerland and the Netherlands. It was in this period that the abbreviation << HABA << became established as the official company name, which also proved to be compatible with other languages. However, a shadow would soon be cast over this time of transformation; on January 30, 1955 Eugen Habermaass died suddenly.

Luise assume the company management

His widow, Luise, was now forced to take on her husband´s role while at the same time providing for her family. She could count on the active support of the loyal staff, particularly that of August Bayerlein, who was the authorized signatory. Her brother, Gustav Fahrner, also supported her. Back then a female company executive was quite rare. Thanks to her leadership abilities, and aided by the so-called >> economic miracle <<, she managed the business of the HABA Family of Companies in the following decades with great success.

Luise remained closely tied to the firm, even long after her son Klaus Habermaass took on the management of the company. Even after retirement she came to the firm regularly to check up on things and to offer her son advice. Luise Habermaass died at the age of 93 in 2003. She was the first honorary citizien of Bad Rodach.

Firmengebäude heute

One brick at a time: The company´s headquarters in Bad Rodach

We all need space to grow, and the HABA Family of Companies is no different. What started in a small family house with a neighboring factory building has grown over the years to its present size: a medium-sized company with around 2,000 employees and four locations in Bad Rodach. The company´s development has been accompanied by ongoing construction work.  

HABA´s history began modestly at the Habermaass family home on August-Grosch-Straße, which, together with the neighboring building, formed the company´s headquarters. The first factory building, >Werk I<, was built alongside the family house and was extended little by little over the years, until finally in the seventies, the house was demolished to make room for the factory.

In 1955, furniture production was moved into a neighboring cellar that Eugen Habermaass had purchased in 1949. The cellar is the only part of the original building that still remains today, although now it is hardly recognizable, having been extensively redesigned and incorporated into the second factory building. >Werk II<. The company continued to grow rapidly, and both locations had to be extended several times. In 1987, even these became too small and the third factory, >Werk III<, was constructed on Werner-von-Siemens-Straße, where the high rack warehouse was housed. The fourth company building, a warehouse known as >Elsa<, is located on Elsaer Straße.

The current company headquarters is now located opposite >Werk I<. The old buildings oh the site´s former brewery >Brauhof< and >Leschenhof<, were demolished piece by piece and replaced with a modern and prestigious head office. It has two buildings, the new >Brauhof< and the new >Leschenhof< that are connected to one another. These modern and sustainably constructed buildings have finally given the HABA Family of Companies a headquarters to be proud of - one that showcases and mirrors the natural and colorful philosophy of the company.

The history of the Family of Companies in bullet points

1961  Klaus Habermaaß starts working at the company. First, he is employed as a general assistant, then in the technical, financial and product development departments, later he is appointed Managing Partner.

1971  The staff grows to 193 members.

1978   The company now has 300 employees.

1980   Venturing over the Atlantic: HABA takes over the company Skaneteles Handicrafters with the new name T.C. Timber. The company has been known as HABA USA since 2002.

1987   The HABA Family gets bigger: JAKO-O is in its infancy. The first catalog contains »GEMINOs«, HABA baby doll cariages and ab trainers. JAKO-O publishes its first »real« collection in a catalog in 1995. From 2000, the company´s motto has been »Made by parents - Designed for kids«.

1997   The number of employees rises to 661.

2001   The old brewery is purchased and demolished to make space for the modern office building (completed in 2006).

2003   Harald Grosch is appointed as Chief Executive Officer. Luise Habermaaß passes away at the age of 93. One year later, the day nursery for employees´children aged between six weeks and three years old is named in her  honor. In the same year the HABA Family of Companies is given an audit award »Beruf und Familie« (work and family).

2008   The flock of employees has grown to 1,600 and is showing no signs of stopping. Today, the companies employ around 2,000 staff.

2009   The Family of Companies continues to grow as well: HABA combines its shareholdings into the project GmbH in Eisleben. At the same time, the company expands its operations abroad: a Werhfritz branch is opened in the same year in Poland. Back at home in Bad Rodach, the JAKO-O Familystore GmbH & Co. KG is brought into being.

2011   Klaus Habermaass celebrates his 50th working anniversary.

2012   The building »Brauhof 2« (Brewery 2), now known as the »Leschenhof« is finalized. This completes the company´s modern headquarters.

2013   The company celebrates its 75th anniversary.

2014   The HABA Family gets bigger once more: HABA takes a part of the company tiggly.

2015   The range of the Family of Companies gets larger: From now, the Fox & Sheep GmbH is a member of the HABA Family. In the same year starts the shop “Heldbergs - really good stuff“.

2016   The HABA Family of Companies has a further CEO henceforth: Karl Fischer.