70 Years of Innovation History
This year, König & Meyer celebrates its 70th company anniversary. We have collected a few milestones of our company history here and took a look at what simultaneously astonished, inspired, and kept the world in suspense during those 7 decades. Perhaps some of you will find yourselves again through the years and think in astonishment: “Wow, has it been so long?” We hope you enjoy reading and would be delighted if you continued to write history with us.
1949 is a historic, groundbreaking year for Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany is founded and the Basic Law, the basis of our democracy, is passed. Feelings of optimism and self-confidence reemerge after the years of war.
With courage and determination, many companies are founded this year. Karl König and Erich Meyer start production of music stands and measuring tools in Wertheim with 6 employees after the original factory in Zella-Mehlis in Thuringia was expropriated under Soviet occupation. Incidentally, the opening balance of König & Meyer has a balance sheet total of DM 7,850 (approx. € 4,000). According to the closing balance on 12/31/1949 a total of 29 music stands and 20 table music stands are in stock. In the following years, the product range is extended to include instrument stands, and further holders and accessories, and national and international sales are established. As a result, the production space and the number of employees also increased.
As the fifties are drawing to a close, pop culture has entered a new phase. With Elvis Presley, rock ‘n’ roll reaches an unparalleled level of popularity worldwide. In England, beat music is born, spearheaded by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The Beatles in particular are often described as the most important pop band ever, having had a lasting influence on almost all genres of pop/rock music. Live music, making music, and listening to music become more and more popular, and the demand for instruments and accessories increases. The microphone stands already manufactured by König & Meyer in the 1950s are further developed at the beginning of the 1960s. In 1966, Martin König and his father Karl König design a stand using a folding base instead of the previous screw-in legs, allowing for more flexible use on stage: The legendary 210/2 is born. It is available in stores for 125 DM (64 €). In the 1970s, the stand is supplemented by a telescopic boom arm, and thus another classic, the 210/9, is introduced to the market.
The first moon landing in the history of the world, described as one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, is particularly defining for the year 1969.
König & Meyer also took a giant leap in 1969, when the new Plant II was inaugurated just a small step away from the existing 700 m plant.
A modern and larger electroplating plant is installed in the new production facility in order to meet the needs of the company’s new and growing line of business, the production of hood dryer stands. However, this era of the company’s history comes to an end in the mid-1970s, when the market completely collapsed due to the development of the floating hood and the popularity of blow-dry hairstyles. All the same, from 1962 König & Meyer supplied almost all large household goods companies such as Kalorik, Minerva, Severin, ABL, AEG, Siemens, Schott, Philips, Krups, and Rowenta with stands for hair drying hoods, making it the market leader for this product in Europe for some time.
Today, the constantly modernized Plant II houses the powder coating plant, the punching shop, the laser systems, the turning shop, the welding shop, the toolmaking facility, and the final assembly, where over 1,500 different music accessory products are now manufactured and sold in over 80 countries around the world. Despite conversions, expansions, and relocations, the company has remained faithful to its location in Plant II for 50 years.
The Federal Republic of Germany becomes the soccer world champion for the second time after 1954 in the final against the Netherlands. In 1974, a further milestone in the history of König & Meyer begins with its entry into plastics production. Thermoplastic and thermoset parts are manufactured in the department specially established for this purpose for the Rowenta company in Offenbach, which had been looking for a nearby supplier. But experience with thermosets in particular is lacking in the early days, so many products had to be reworked. For this purpose, a separate department, called the “housewife shift”, is introduced, which works mainly in the evenings. Gradually, plastic parts for other areas are also being produced.
In addition to plastics production, various production processes are further automated in the 1970s, significantly shortening work steps and increasing sales per employee. In 1972 the first powder coating plant is put into operation, replacing the previous environmentally harmful nitro lacquering process. The existing product categories are supplemented by the area of speaker stands. At the end of the 1970s, the 214/6 speaker stand is introduced to the market with an innovative new height adjustment system consisting of locking bolts with securing screws, which soon establishes itself as the standard for professional applications.
The year 1989 is marked by the fall of the “Iron Curtain” following protests by civil movements, the opening up of the Wall and borders, and finally negotiations on the reunification of the two German states.
After König & Meyer’s sales activities in Germany were handled solely by wholesale partners in the first decades of the company’s history, in the 1980s the management begins to consistently build up its own sales force and to support retail businesses directly. After the GDR opens its borders in the fall of 1989, König & Meyer expands its sales activities to the East starting in the spring of 1990. Addresses of music shops between Rostock and Zwickau are then collected and first contacts made. It is truly pioneering work: the roads are in a desolate condition, and the telephone network is obsolete and quickly overloaded. Mobile telephone technology is still in its infancy. However, success is already achieved within a short period of time, and soon König & Meyer products can also be found in the new states.
In the 1980s, many new products and product groups also emerge, such as keyboard and mixer stands, 19″ accessories, and piano benches. In addition, the 213 speaker stand with hand crank is developed.
But for König & Meyer, 1989 also means the end of thermoset production. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, many new plastics companies arise in East Germany, offering at prices that K&M can no longer keep up with. Today, the in-house plastics department produces mainly for K&M products with a continuous investment in machinery.
In 1989, K&M also celebrates its 40th anniversary and inaugurates a new dispatch and warehouse facility. However, the warehouse and dispatch are situated in a newly built, state-of-the-art logistics center of approx. 8,000 sqm.
Fears of a Year 2000 computer crash in 1999 are not just a concern for software specialists. Throughout the world there are concerns that the transition to the year 2000 will disrupt many computer systems. People have fears of crashing planes, cold apartments, blackouts, and empty ATMs. König & Meyer also fears a standstill of mechanical systems, especially the electroplating plant, due to a possible breakdown of the municipal power supply. For this reason, a powerful generator is purchased as a precaution. Fortunately, the fear of the Y2K Millennium Bug proves unfounded in the end. The IT department of König & Meyer and the local power generators are perfectly prepared.
In 1999, both the Federal Republic of Germany and König & Meyer celebrate 50 years. It has always been a tradition at König & Meyer to celebrate company anniversaries regularly. The 50th anniversary, however, is meant to be something special. So the whole workforce is flown to the USA, where they visit the national parks in the west and party in Las Vegas – a unique and unforgettable experience.
The company continues to expand in the 90s. A new hall is built for the storage of cardboard boxes, and the assembly hall is extended. Export markets are expanded further. Above all, the US market is developed further by means of a strategic alliance.
In February 2004, Mark Zuckerberg founds the social network Facebook. It would become the most successful of its kind, further promote globalization, and revolutionize the way companies think and act. The up-and-coming search engine operator Google also went public in 2004. Besides Facebook, the subsidiary Instagram has also become an important advertising and information channel.
With information about new products, upcoming trade fair appearances, in-house news, and stories relating to the music business, König & Meyer now reaches over 60,000 followers and “likes” in social media. In particular, updates for the online campaign #backstagestories, launched in 2019, are delivered daily.
The 2000s not only saw the start of social media and the creation of a website, but also a fundamental overhaul of the company’s corporate design and the worldwide expansion of the König & Meyer brand. In addition to digital media, classic analog marketing and advertising measures continue to play a major role. Through endorsement agreements, a close cooperation with a number of renowned bands and artists is started in order to make the products and the brand more tangible and better known.
Between 2000 and 2009, as in every decade, production facilities are modernized and expanded, especially the electroplating, turning, welding, and toolmaking plants. A new fully automated powder coating plant is officially inaugurated in 2004 at the 55th anniversary celebration.
In 2005, Gabriela König and Heiko Wolz join the management team.
The first tube laser system is installed in 2006 marking the start of a new pioneering technology at König & Meyer. Within the field of keyboard stands, the innovative “Spider” revolutionizes the form and function of the column keyboard stand in 2004.
Since 2000, the sales structures in the market are also changing. In addition to the classic sales channel of the stationary retailer, online trading is becoming increasingly important.
What have we done to the world?
Look what we’ve done!
The world of music is significantly affected by a single incident in 2009: The death of Michael Jackson. The above text passage comes from his song “Earth Song”, with which he denounces the human egoism and environmental destruction.
Environmental protection is important to us. We are continuously investing in our production to make processes more efficient and sustainable, to generate more electricity using photovoltaic systems, and to further reduce water consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. In close cooperation with local suppliers, transport routes are shortened and environmentally friendly powder coating technology is used in production. With products and components that are generally durable and recyclable, we point out alternatives to the throwaway mentality. At the beginning of the 21st century, König & Meyer received the globally acknowledged environmental certificates EMAS II and ISO 14001. The company views investments from three different angles and weights them equally: Does it support the employee, can it help reduce environmental impacts, and does it secure the future corporate success of the company.
There are ways to get there,
if you care enough for the living!
We will also continue to invest in environmental protection in the future. Together with our suppliers, dealers, and end customers, we will develop concepts for environmentally friendly production and sustainable consumption.
Time never stands still, even in this decade. The continuous development of new products clearly shows this. The introduction of new electronic media such as tablets has created a new demand in the market, one which König & Meyer satisfies with special holders. In the past few years, König & Meyer has succeeded in designing a variety of holders for tablets that can be individually adjusted in size. All holders quickly achieve a high level of recognition in the market. The multimedia sector continues to grow. Since 2017, König & Meyer has also featured a range of orchestra chairs and special equipment.
Finding new market niches that complement the existing range and ensure corresponding growth will continue to be one of our main objectives in the future.
We would like to thank all our customers, interested parties, business partners, and users of our products for their trust and support, no matter if they have been with us from the beginning or only for the last few years.
It is by no means a matter of course that we can celebrate our 70th anniversary in 2019. Regardless of our own efforts and achievements, of which we are admittedly extremely proud, our success is founded above all on the dedication of you, our customers.
Thank you very much!