The Häfele Story

  • How it all began

    1923 - 1944

  • Reconstruction

    1945 - 1959

  • Modern times

    1960 - 1979

  • Growth

    1980 - 1999

  • Häfele today

    2000 - present

Store in Nagold, 1930
Adolf Häfele, company founder
1923

Established

The founding of Häfele takes place in a time of far reaching political and social upheaval. The Weimar Republic is just a few years old, the consequences of the First World War are still evident everywhere.

1923, when inflation reached its climax in Germany, two young men, Adolf Häfele and Hermann Funk, take their fate into their own hands: on 1st December they set up a speciality store for joinery needs called "Products for the hardware and tool industry" in Aulendorf in Württemberg.

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

Moving to Nagold

The young company specialised in joinery and carpentry supplies and moved to Nagold, the former centre of the furniture production in Württemberg.

From there, Adolf Häfele visited the woodworking shops and furniture manufactures in the area; he noted names and the customer's requirements and in so doing, established the company's first regional network.

His credo still has central importance today: personal contact, industry and product knowledge, reliability and fast delivery of the required products.

1930

Successful start-up years

Adolf Häfele established the first wholesale warehouse and organised the distribution of the goods. His innovative product assortment and excellent service put him ahead of his time, enabling him to acquire many new clients.

Häfele exhibition stand, Strasbourg, 1933
1933

First exports

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

The still young company receives the "Gold Medal" for the configuration of the exhibition stand. The export of the fittings to the neighbouring countries is also starting slowly.

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

First Häfele furniture fittings catalogue
1939

First catalogue

The first furniture fittings catalogue was published in 1939 with a circulation of 20,000 copies. Distributed in Germany and abroad, it forms the foundation for international sales of Häfele products.

The symbolic cover shows a picture of a globe which became the logo of the rapidly growing business.  

Häfele company buildings at Freudenstädter Straße 70 in Nagold
1945

New beginnings

Adolf Häfele takes his company safely and largely unscathed through the Second World War. After the end of the war, the plight of the country is great, however, the reconstruction results in an active demand for fittings and joinery needs. Things are quickly moving forward 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.

Walter Thierer
1949

Change in management

Company founder Adolf Häfele passed away in 1949, only 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 Walter 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

Cornerstone of modernism

1950 was a year which began in disaster, however, in the end, events turned out for the best: a fire destroys the company building during the night of New Year's Eve. But Walther Thierer acts quickly: first, a road sale pacifies the emergency, and business operations are resumed in makeshift location. 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 grills
1954

Entry into production

In April 1954, Häfele started his own production of special fittings for furniture ornaments and brass grills. Demand for the products quickly grows so much that the production area must be expanded several times.

Nagold distribution centre, 1974
The first foreign subsidiary is founded in Kreuzlingen
1960

A spirit of optimism

In the economic boom years following World War II, Häfele primarily serves the domestic market; but it's only a matter of time before returning to the activities abroad.

In 1964, Häfele took advantage of optimistic spirit of 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 founded.

The travelling activities of the sales pioneers in Nagold are brought to the forefront, as the first mobile Häfele exhibition departs on tour. In the following years, the bus also serves as an exhibition venue abroad.

The Complete Häfele
1971

The Complete Häfele

"The Complete Häfele" is published for the first time and is the largest reference tool for furniture fittings in the world.

The Complete Häfele offers more than 25,000 articles for sale, but also contains detailed drawings and installation instructions – not only a reference book, but an instructional textbook as well.

1972

Across the Big Pond

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

These mobile exhibits have been deployed successfully in other countries and are often the first step in opening a market. By the early 70s Häfele achieved export levels of 40% and contributed to establishing Germany as an export nation.

The first editions of The Complete Häfele are published in English, French and Spanish
1973

The Complete Häfele

"The Complete Häfele" appears in English, the world's lingua franca, as well as in French as "Le Grand Häfele" and in Spanish as "El Gran Häfele".

Today this comprehensive reference tool for hardware technology is available in more than 24 languages, along with many special editions aimed at specific target groups and countries.

Distribution centre in Nagold
1974

Start of in-house development

Häfele launches an in-house development department. The company quickly causes a sensation by producing innovative hardware; this is the beginning of a lasting influence on the furniture construction industry.

The same year, the distribution centre in Nagold is ready to begin 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.

Establishment of national Häfele sales offices
Company building of Häfele Malaysia
1980

Additional foreign subsidiaries

Häfele establishes the third subsidiary in the United Kingdom. Then it's one after the other: subsidiaries are opened in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Japan... A veritable founding boom sets in.

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

Hans Nock
1982

Lasting values

In 1982 Hans Nock, export manager in Nagold since the 1960s, takes over management of the company and becomes the head of Häfele’s foreign business. Growth is successful thanks to the momentum of this family company and its earnest efforts. The export share rises to 70 percent.

Minifix connector system
1983

Minifix

The thorough understanding of customer needs allows Häfele to become a problem solver for many industry challenges. One such example is Häfele's development of the Minifix connector system which utilizes a centric ball principle; this continues to be a solution used around the world, even today. The small Minifix revolutionises the industry and accelerates the growth of the newly created RTA furniture sector.

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

Häfele sales office in Kaltenkirchen
1985

Establishment of national sales offices

From the beginning, Häfele focuses on its proximity to customers. Visiting partners on-site and individual conversations are an essential part of the company culture. Investment is made to expand sales offices in Germany starting in 1985. Shorter distances to customers, smaller sales units and personal contact is the new motto. Integrated showrooms make a visit to the sales offices particularly interesting and are very popular with customers.

Häfele headquarters in Nagold
1996

Expansion of Häfele Nagold

Häfele headquarters in Nagold is also expanded. 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, data centre and a test workshop are located in the award-winning building. The company's strategies are developed, and the product ranges are selected and documented at headquarters. Central IT is located here, and from here, the global sales organizations are regulated.

Häfele Argentina
1997

Latin America

The founding boom covers the entire American continent. It is started in 1997 with a subsidiary in Mexico. Brazil follows in 1998 and Argentina in 1999.

Häfele headquarters in Nagold
2002

China and Eastern Europe

While the last "open spots" on the map of Western Europe were developed by Häfele during the late 90s and at the beginning of the new millennium, the company now puts it's feelers out to Eastern Europe and China. In 2002 Häfele establishes the first subsidiary in Eastern Europe, 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 to be modern

Sibylle Thierer, daughter of Walther Thierer, assumes responsibility for the company at the beginning of the new millennium and represents the third generation of family management.

She paves the way for modern times by focusing all decisions on the benefits of innovative ideas and products.

Häfele 360° Project Service
2006

360° Project Service

Häfele's 360° Project Service has formed the foundation of the 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 embraces the marketing strategy "The Innovator of Functionality" and develops new ways to lead the way. "Functionality" becomes a quality seal in itself that allows cabinet makers and joiners to brand their own functional solutions. The same year, the first "Functionality World" exhibition opens in Nagold. Two years later, the first edition of "Häfele Home" magazine appears, containing innovative furniture and living ideas. The magazine inspires designers, architects, cabinet maker and joiners.

Häfele Engineering
2011

Häfele Engineering

After establishing the 360° Project Service, Häfele bundles all of its sales activities aimed at the furniture industry together in the newly established, international sales organisation Häfele Engineering GmbH & Co KG.  It focuses exclusively on meeting the requirements of the furniture industry – along the entire value chain.

2014

Häfele today

91 years after its founding, the Häfele family business is a worldwide leader in the furniture fittings and architectural hardware industry, as well as in electronic access control systems. Häfele employs more than 6,000 employees and has 37 subsidiaries, as well as many additional dealerships throughout the world.