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To house their new company, the Hager family purchase the premises of another business that has closed down. The site covers an area of 12,000 m² and is located in Ensheim, in Saarland. They pay off the property in instalments, and Peter Hager and his sons restore the buildings with the help of a small team. Years later, Hermann Hager will say, “I still remember crouching on the roof, laying asbestos cement panels!” Soon afterwards, the small company begins to manufacture its products.
By 1954, Hermann and Dr Oswald Hager have completed their studies and want to get a foot on the career ladder. Since the Schmitt brothers’ company is too small to allow them to do so, the two families divide it up. Ludwig Schmitt founds the company Sarel (waterproof enclosures). Peter Hager takes over the production of meter panels and distribution boxes, and, in January 1955, founds the company Hager oHG Elektrotechnische Fabrik in Ensheim with his sons. This lays the foundation stone for today’s Hager Group.
The Hagers’ most important customer at this time is Remington, an electric shaver manufacturer based in Saarbrücken. At first, Hager only supplies single precision-turned components, but later it supplies almost the whole shaver from a single source. The company then expands its manufacturing portfolio by adding a new technology, producing parts made of injected plastic.
After Saarland becomes part of Germany and the border with France is closed, the company’s founders have a choice: let the French market go, or start up again from scratch on the other side of the border. They decide to start again in Obernai, a small town in Alsace where Hermann Hager sets up Hager’s second foothold from 1959 onwards. Dr Oswald Hager, meanwhile, looks after the main plant in Ensheim, as well as sales. The Hagers now feel at home on both sides of the border.
The Hagers make a bold statement: in 1957, they introduce the first logo for their young company.
In May 1959, Hager goes to the Hanover Fair in Germany to present its new development: meter panels with a Bakelite plate system. The start-up makes a good impression at its first public event, thanks to its innovativeness, warmth and hospitality. “At the Hanover Fair we had a stand of just 12 m²,” Dr Oswald Hager remembers. “But we served champagne and cognac to all visitors. A significant point that made us stand out from the competition.”
In 1962, Hager’s new French factory is inaugurated in the Rue du Général Leclerc in Obernai. The premises cover an area of 1,500 m². At the same time, the product portfolio is gradually extended. In order to better understand their customers’ needs, the Hager brothers travel around France with members of their team – just as they had done previously in Germany. In this way, Hager Group’s famous customer-oriented approach slowly becomes popular in France as well.
How can a company respond specifically to customers’ needs? One approach is to listen to them very carefully. An even better way is to work closely with them. From 1966 onwards, the Hagers invite electrical installers to attend training sessions. It allows the technicians to become familiar with Hager products and the Hagers to work out how they can improve their products even more. This customer-focused approach becomes one of the main ingredients for Hager Group’s success.