12. June 2008

Wilhelm Harting was born 100 years ago

Wilhelm Harting, founder of today’s HARTING Technology Group, was born on 15 June 1908 in Kirchhorsten (Lower Saxony).

It all began with the desire to make people’s everyday life easier. When Wilhelm Harting, together with his wife Marie, founded the company “Wilhelm Harting Mechanische Werkstätten” in 1945, he laid the foundations for today’s internationally successful HARTING Technology Group. Next Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of Wilhelm Harting’s birth.

Wilhelm Harting was born on 15 June 1908 in Kirchhorsten (Lower Saxony) in the district of Schaumburg. At the age of 37 – almost immediately after the end of World War II – he decided to establish his own company. The HARTING Group, as it is known today, had its origins in a workshop of about 100 square meters in Minden. Initially, the production range consisted mainly of daily necessities in hot demand after the war, such as cooking plates, electric lighters or irons. With their dedication and commitment, Wilhelm and Marie Harting were among those entrepreneurs lauded as post-war reconstruction pioneers, contributing to what was to become Germany’s Wirtschaftswunder, or economic miracle.

The size and volume of orders and the number of employees already rose dynamically in those early years. Consequently, in 1947, Wilhelm and Marie Harting together with their staff first relocated to larger premises in Minden and in 1950 (then 180 employees) to the flourishing town of Espelkamp-Mittwald. Using the premises of several former ammunition storage depots, a modern plant was built on a 50,000 square meter site and equipped with heavy-duty machinery. The HARTING Technology Group since that times has consistently further developed the Espelkamp location. HARTING quality products destined for global markets are nowadays manufactured at a total of five production sites in Espelkamp, with a total floor space of about 250,000 square meters; in addition, HARTING operates five production facilities across the globe.

In the 1950s, the era of boundless enthusiasm for technology, Wilhelm Harting, in search of a promising core business, dealt with various production areas. After the lean, hard years of the war, the market was craving for a first touch of luxury, to which Wilhelm Harting responded by building a jukebox or a 12-record changer, for instance. As the first European producer of electric cigarette vending machines in the year 1959, he also established a production branch still considered to be an asset of value by experts to this day.

Signs of the growing importance of industrial plug-type connectors began to emerge at the beginning of the 1960s. Wilhelm Harting recognized this potential at an early stage. Shortly before his untimely death in 1962, he decided to make the production of connectors HARTING’s core business – a strategic move that was to have a decisive impact on the development of his company into today’s HARTING Technology Group. After all, it has become apparent that Wilhelm Harting’s entrepreneurial foresight has paid off. Today, the HARTING Technology Group is one of the world’s leading suppliers of industrial plug-type connectors. With the Han® connector, Wilhelm Harting even set a global standard which only few companies in this sector have been able to achieve.

Within 17 years until his death, Wilhelm Harting and his wife had built up a successful company with more than 700 employees. His family continued this sequel as Wilhelm Harting would have intended; the Technology Group currently has a global workforce of more than 3,000 employees in 27 countries, and the trend is rising.

In 1995, Wilhelm Harting’s contributions to the Espelkamp location were honored in a very special way: on the occasion of the HARTING Technology Group’s 50th anniversary, the city of Espelkamp honored the entrepreneurial pioneer by renaming a street “Wilhelm-Harting-Straße” in the industrial zone in the north of the city.