A little piece of wood veneer makes history
It is just a simple piece of wood veneer. Swietenia Mahagoni. From New York. But somehow it makes history; our history. Or at least part of it. Let's start at the beginning:
Photo left: Konni Knoblauch
In 1991, Konni (the grandson of our company founder Fidel Knoblauch) and his team assembled several shops at "Engelhorn und Sturm" in Mannheim, Germany. One of them was a Polo Ralph Lauren shop. The shop was located in a passage-way with a still open facade and in the middle of a construction site. The efforts to protect the white back wall against falling stones and the grime of containers burning at night, were unsuccessful.
For Konni it was a matter of course to repaint the wall under difficult conditions. As hands-on approach, that was the motto. Without being aware of it, Konni thus took a first step towards a big shop fitting contract.
Photo right: A thank-you letter for the staff
The New York trip
A few years later - around the end of 2000 - we were invited to quote for a new shop concept for Polo Ralph Lauren. The letter mentioned that it would be possible to view the prototype of the new concept - in New York! Spontaneously, Konni and Jürgen Zahn who had joint the Knoblauch management earlier that year, flew to New York to take a look at the prototype. On November 11, 2000, when nobody was looking, Konni took out his pocket knife and cut off a little piece of the wood veneer of the furniture and took it with him. That was a good idea, because after we built a sample store in Munich, Polo Ralph Lauren accepted our quote and they are still one of our biggest customers today.
Photo above: Swietenia Mahagoni, the beginning of it all
How to just get on with things
Like a talisman, the American veneer still has it's place in the desk drawer of Jürgen who has been our front man since Konni passed away in December 2005. They met for the first time in 1993 when Jürgen joined Knoblauch working in the wood workshop. One year later he began his design studies in Stuttgart and afterwards managed his own design office while also working with Knoblauch from time to time. During these years, he got to know Konni quite well and he learned a lot from him. How to just get on with things for example.
Just like Manne from our workshop. He joined Knoblauch in 1978 as a furniture, windows and doors carpenter. At that time, Hubert Knoblauch, Konni's father and the son of Fidel who founded the company in 1909, was still working in the family business. Once, an old wooden hut was planned for the Lerros showroom in Hall 29 in Duesseldorf. A reconstructing was out of the question because hut had to be authentic. And so Manne, quite familiar with the local forests, was asked to look for such an old hut while out on his bike. In his spare time, of course. In the Deggenhausertal on the Grubenhof he found something suitable: an old, warped and derelict barn!
The owner was quickly found and the hut dismantled in a cloak-and-dagger operation. The intact gable was cut off with a motor saw and the leftovers were burned in a huge bonfire. The gable was split in a few pieces, shipped to Duesseldorf and installed in the showroom.
Like Konni, like the staff
Photo above: The pear on the fair stand
Stefan also took a hands-on approach. For the Steiff trade fair stand we needed a big pear tree. So Stefan decided to fell an 80 year old pear tree on his father's land. The tree had been losing leaves and would have fallen victim to the saw anyway. The 10-meter tree was shortened a little and reassembled in the "Magic Garden" in Nuremberg.
For a restaurant in Markdorf we were looking for old wooden planks. And so Roland screwed off a few worm-eaten planks from his father's barn, added new planks instead and mounted the old ones in the restaurant.
Photo righ: a old plank from Roland's father
On the right track
Left: Fidel Knoblauch / Right: Hubert Knoblauch and his team
Trying something which no one expects and for which you need a little courage that's howe we would describe our philosophy. Maybe it is the legacy from Konni, Hubert and Fidel Knoblauch who started as a small carpentry business more than one hundred years ago.
Photo left: Konni Knoblauch and his machine
A family business that survived the difficult years of two world wars and where family is still important today. A company that Konni steered into the same direction in which we still go today with around 170 employees. An international company for shop and commercial fittings.