Nothing more clearly explains the Hoffmann world today than its 100-year history. It has been marked by the personal commitment of the founding family, economic challenges, innovative developments, and the values of a true family business. It has made the company what it is today.
Beginnings in difficult times
In 1919, qualified mechanic and machine-builder Josef Hoffmann starts his own business, a sales agency selling "technical articles and metalwares". He initially specialises in selling welding machinery, automobile accessories, spare parts and technical articles. He soon attracts increasing numbers of customers. In 1930, Josef Hoffmann moves into a small shop on Arnulfstrasse in Munich, and already employs two field sales representatives. Even back then, he not only supplies his customers, but also provides them with advice on technical application.
Business development through the energetic son of the founder
In the early 1930s, Franz Hoffmann joins his father in the business, and soon takes over as its head. He adds tools and small machines to the portfolio, and they become a major second pillar of the business. Hoffmann soon has thousands of trade and light industrial businesses as its customers. Franz Hoffmann places great value in active selling out in the field. He enthusiastically supports the Munich representative himself.
The young company head Franz Hoffmann is keen to build a top-quality portfolio. In 1936, he combines product listings from different manufacturers to create a bound in-house catalogue. The idea for the Hoffmann catalogue is thus born.
Rise to become a major trader in industrial tools
Thanks to Franz Hoffmann's pioneering spirit, the business grows steadily. He observes the market, continually adapting his product range, which is crucial to the success of the business. Hoffmann's policy is not to offer the widest range on the market, but rather to sell specialist equipment – the best available on the market for each product group.
He regards the core competency of the trading business as lying in immediate availability and prompt delivery of the best tools. Service backup includes regrinding at the company's in-house workshop, as well as the provision of expert and detailed advice. He expands the field sales network, increasingly engaging specialists in a variety of different technical areas in addition to his tried and proven all-rounder sales staff. That service backup and expert advice remains today a unique selling point and key factor in the success of the Hoffmann Group.
Franz Hoffmann also provides unusually generous employee benefits for the time, including reimbursement of travel expenses, tickets to the cinema, food vouchers, and later a company canteen and in-house bakery. He also enables his employees to share in the company's success.
In 1972 the company moves its head office to the present-day location in the Pasing district of Munich. The facility has been continually extended and remodelled ever since as the workforce has grown in numbers. The strong sales growth of the Hoffmann Group also imposes high demands on its stock-holding and logistics. The high levels of delivery capability and short delivery lead times by which the Hoffmann Group distinguishes itself from the competition are closely linked to Hoffmann's goal of quality leadership.
A key factor in achieving that goal is the logistics centre in Nuremberg, where in 2009 the Hoffmann Group opens what is at the time the largest and most efficient logistics centre in the industry anywhere in Europe. To maintain its state-of-the-art standards in logistics, in 2018 the company begins constructing its "LogisticCity" facility. The new logistics centre will be more than "just" a warehouse, and marks the first step towards digitally connected logistics operations. LogisticCity thus also embodies Hoffmann's pioneering spirit.
The market for workstations and storage grows so strongly from 2010 onwards that in 2014 the Hoffmann Group opens a new workstations and storage centre in Odelzhausen.
The 13,500 m2 facility of GARANT Productions in Reutlingen develops and manufactures workstations and storage for markets all over the world.
The heart of the trading business – the catalogue
The first fully self-produced, designed and printed catalogue, containing the complete ex-stock product range, is issued in 1952, and extends to 240 pages. Hoffmann employs high-quality image material and a clearly structured layout as key features of the catalogue design. The catalogue is intended as a "technical advice reference" for the company's customers. The orange-coloured "Tool Bible" has been published yearly since 1978. In the centenary year 2019, the 50th issue will be published in 18 different languages, with a print run of 1.1 million copies.
Hoffmann builds manufacturing expertise
The launch of the GARANT premium tool brand in 1973 safeguards the future of the business: Hoffmann is now no longer just a trader, but also a manufacturer. The products in the premium portfolio impress by their innovation, functional design and top quality, while offering very good value for money. GARANT tools have won a number of design awards. A new quality tool brand, HOLEX, was launched in 1983, offering customers good industrial quality at an attractive price.
Rise to become an international group
In 1993, based on the cooperation with German partner companies, the Hoffmann Gruppe is founded. Based on a joint strategy, with a centralised purchasing function, the Gruppe is able to provide its customers with even more attractive offers than before. Moreover, the Gruppe structure means all customers can be provided with personalised support on-site at their own location.
The Hoffmann Gruppe is growing steadily, and in 1995 ventures beyond Germany's borders. It has been developing its international business continuously ever since. Together with its partners, it is now represented in more than 50 countries, with a total of 69 subsidiaries and distributors, and since 2003 the group has borne the English title "Hoffmann Group".
Milestones in the company's growth
Founding of the first subsidiary with acquisition of partner Theisen in Nuremberg
Start of the internationalisation process with the first licensing partner in Switzerland
Entry into the Spanish market
Founding of the Hoffmann Group together with German partner companies
Founding of Hoffmann GmbH Bremen
Founding of the distribution operation in Austria
Founding of the subsidiary in France
Noniusz becomes the Group's partner in Hungary
Entry into the Danish market
Opening-up of the markets in Sweden, Finland, Italy, Lithuania, Slovakia and Greece
Opening-up of the markets in Belarus, Romania, Poland, Latvia, and – through partners Perschmann and Gödde – also in Poland, Luxembourg and Belgium
Leeport Machine Tool Trading (China) Ltd. becomes the Group's partner in China
Opening of the technology centre in Nuremberg
Acquisition of German partner TRAUB, subsequently renamed Hoffmann Göppingen
Acquisition of ZAO Rosmark in Russia, and founding of the subsidiary in Russia
Opening of the logistics centre in Nuremberg, Europe's largest and most efficient tool logistics facility
Founding of the subsidiary in Hungary
Acquisition of Gebo Werkzeuge GmbH in Essen
Acquisition of KB Knecht GmbH in Reutlingen, subsequently renamed GARANT Productions
Founding of Hoffmann Asia Pacific in Singapore
Founding of the subsidary in Malaysia
Opening of the workstations and storage centre in Odelzhausen
Founding of the subsidiary in Pune, India
Founding of the subsidiary in Knoxville, USA
Start of construction of LogisticCity, a state-of-the-art logistics centre, marking a step towards digitally connected logistics operations
"Tools create values" – the Hoffmann Group Foundation
Social responsibility and community engagement have been at the core of Hoffmann's corporate culture since its very beginnings. In 2006, the management formalised that commitment by establishing the Hoffmann Group Foundation. The values which dictate how the business operates are also reflected in the social and community engagement of the company: reliability, responsibility and sustainability. Under the motto "Tools create values", the Foundation provides targeted support to organisations which promote the development of disadvantaged and traumatised children and young people, helping them to lay the foundations for a successful and happy life.
In 2013, the two company shareholders Verena Heinrich and Nicola Januschke-Bleicher take over the management of the Hoffmann Group Foundation.