1860 - Kortenbach and Rauh
In 1855,Europe was confidered to be the undisputed world centre for umbrella production.It was this favourable climage that prompted business partners August Kortenbach and Carl Rauh to found theirown umbrella manufacturing plant in Solingen,Germany.The factory began modestly,its samall workforce had a family focus and the foundations were laid for the close-knit work ethic that grew with the firm.
By 1874 K&R(Kortenbach and Rauh) had expanded its workforce to over 70 employees,at this point Rauh retired,making way for Karl Pieper(ex foreman of Krupps)to join the K&R team,bring-ing with him the konwledge of fresh working meth-ods,and new tools.Research and development was always a core value to the K&R way of working,and this earned them a covetable position at the forefronts of production methods and output quality.
This constant quest for improvement lead to the inclusion of solid rivets in their umbrella construction in 1880the first ma-chine to produce the rivets was designed and built at K&R.it is an interesting testament to the quality of workmanship present in the firm to note the very same machine is still in constant use today well over one hundred years later!
Sadly in 1881 co rounder Kortenbach passed away,but the K&R spirit of innovation endured.In 1897,the first umbrella patent was granted under number 100186.
This is the very first collapsible umbrella frame which with iron sticks,flexus ribs and flexus shafts..K&R continued to grow with steady momentum and by 1930 the employee base had.
1937 - Kobold is born
Originally the name of one of K&R's fastest selling um-brella models,'kobold'enjoyed such wide spread popular-ity and succes,that the firm opted to register the name asa brand in 1937.A kobold is an ancient,mythical and firendly sprite,thought to dwell in caves and was believed to protect miners and other underground workers from danger.With its German heritage and connotations of protection.the name seemed a natural choice for K&R.
In 1955 K&R published a small booklet celebrating 100 years of production,and kobold was featured within as a flagship product for the company.Today Kobold remains an easily recognisable name in the umbrella market,with a history and identity of its own.
1970 - Kobold ,Knirps and K&R
Current owner of Kobold,Max Wang,met business partner Rainer Hoffman in the early Servnties.Working together at a Bosch lens production facility in Taiwan,the two formed a firm friendship and a mutual respect for each others busi-ness ethics.This connection laid the foundations for the future.
During this period,there were three key playes in the umbrella market,K&R,Bremshey and Bauer,whose brand names were Kobold,Knirps and Boy respectively.
In 1974,Bremshey(original owner of Knirps)established a factory in Taiwan.After completing his contract with Bosch,Hoffman accepted a position as General Manager of the Bremshey factory in 1977,he immediately head hunted Wang,and placed him in the position of Vice General manager.
In 1979,Bremshey was bought by K&R uniting two of the three most powerful umbrella brands of the current market-Knirps and Kobold.
1980 - Moving to China
The unifying of K&R and Knirps lead to the set up of QiMei,a Taiwanese factory dedicated to the sole produc-tion of Knirps and Kobold products.Opening in 1980 with a staff count of around 75 employess,the factory was set up in partnership between Wang and several key mem-bers of K&R's staff.
QiMei's reputation for high quality products increased internationally over the years.Their success was largely based upon excellent quality alongside inventions,patents and consistent solid workmanship,this lead to interest from other premium brands seeking reliable production in the Far East and an exciting expansion of QiMei.
By 1987 the cost of production in Taiwan was steadily increasing,and so Wang began to seek alternatives on main land China.Although appeal to establish a new production facility began to present itself.
The Chinese factory offered much more competitive operating costs,and Wang spared no expense to ensure the new factory would continue to supply exceptional quality products whilst con-tinuing its dedication to research and development.His invest-ment paid dividends and as the Chinese facility grew from strength to strength the worldwide Knirps(K&R)production was consolidated and moved to this location.
It is interesting that investment in pioneering pro-duction techniques,fastidious attention to quality and a family atmosphere amongst staff were all key factors for the growth of this new factory.these are all values echoed in the original factory strate-gies pioneered by Kortenbach and Rauh all those years ago!
After many years of successful production management,Wang decides to put his hard earned valuable experience to the test.With his expert knowledge of production,marketing and high end manufacturing,he sets himself the challenge to rebuild Kobold as an independent brand and introduce it as a fresh new player into the umbrella market.
In 2002 a new logo was registered for Kobold to begin trading,and by 2004 Wang had acquired exclusive copyright and formed Kobold International.
Wang's ambitions for Kobold International were clear,he wanged to produce the very best quality umbrellas,with the latest useful innovations and of the most desirable design.Beginning by focussing upon his area of exper-tise:production and management,he created a stable foundation for the brand to grow from,one that ensured excellent facilities,skilled staff and connections to suppli-ers of high quality materials.
During 2006,Wang'sfocus grew to include design,where he employed an international design team to be based close to the production facilities in China to design,develop and build the brand.This is a key differ-ence for Kobold.the facility is not simply a place where objects are made;there is an immediate conversation between designers and production staff,resulting in a special relationship between ideas and output.
Kobold International registers it new logo in 2007.Alongside a new logo,a new direction for the brand is laid out:one that harks back to its early relationship with the word 'protection'and expands upon umbrellas to include luggage,apparel and travel accessories.
Kobold International has a strong relationship with its customers.Each and every product has been designed,developed and built to confidently offer them the highest-level possible of quality of design,quality of function and quality of production.