He borrowed 32,000 guilders from his father – and put all of his eggs into one basket: impending industrialisation. That is why, in 1865, Gustav Adam Schwanhäusser, a 25 year-old shop assistant from Schweinfurt, bought bankrupt Nuremberg-based pencil company ‘Grossberger und Kurz’, founded in 1855. He named the company the “Schwan pencil factory” after his surname, and added the picture of the swan as a hallmark of quality. Which, by the way, was one of the first registered trademarks in Germany.
Since then, 160 years have passed and the entrepreneurial courage of that young man has paid off. From that pencil company grew a globally successful corporate group with three independent business areas – cosmetics, writing instruments and outdoor. The company has over 5,100 employees worldwide – almost half of which work in Germany – and has now been in the family for five generations. Nevertheless, it is not to be taken for granted. Less than ten percent of all German family-owned companies are passed on for so many generations. This clearly demonstrates how firmly responsibility, sustainability and long-term thinking are routed in our value system.
Now and in the future, family, management and employees will focus on a successful mix of entrepreneurial courage, a cosmopolitan attitude, inventiveness and the necessary pinch of luck.
Whether in the cosmetics private label business, with the STABILO brand writing instruments or the outdoor companies Deuter, ORTOVOX, Maier Sports and GONSO Bike & Active: numerous ground-breaking products stand as testament to the company’s inventive spirit. By the way, it is not just customers that are impressed. They are also right at the top of forgers’ wish lists.