250 years…9 generations… same product portfolio…one company


-hubergroup inks its way to success!
The history, indeed the story, of the hubergroup could begin with the traditional fairy tale introduction, “Once upon a time, ….” After all, it really does sound like a fairy tale: a (family-owned) company that has survived for 2½ centuries with the “same” product portfolio – although it has undergone continual expansion and upgrading – and gone through 9 generations of the same family, all of which, including the current generations, are still in full agreement as to the value of this company. And there’s something else the hubergroup has in common with fairy tales – they always have a happy end…. hubergroup recently celebrated their 250th anniversary. This ink company has permanently inked their success story.

How it began?

It all began back in 1765 with Matthias Mittermayr and a small, handicraft pigment and ink production shop that made Parisian Blue and Carmine Red inks. The company still has the patents that allowed him to produce them, stored away safe in the company archive. In 1781, Mittermayr’s daughter, Anna, married Georg Huber, that is, the first “Huberite”, but not the person after whom the company was named. This was their son, Michael Huber, who headed the company from 1815 to 1857. With the printing industry seeing massive growth (Alois Senefelder, the inventor of lithography, was a contemporary), it was Michael who initiated a period of rapid expansion of the company, a strategy that was continued by his son and grandson, (both of them named Michael Huber, numbers II and III).

At that time, Michael Huber München was a small, regional handicraft business. At the end of the 19th century, Michael Huber III’s brother, Joseph, wanted to try his luck in the United States of America: to help him on his way, he was given the formulations for black newspaper inks. The agreement was that if he found success there, these formulations would be deemed as a pay-out for his share of the company in Munich. He was successful and the firm JM Huber is still in business today, although its product range now includes a multitude of other products.

Due to fact that Michael Huber III fathered daughters only and his brother Julius remained childless, while Joseph emigrated to America, the name Huber disappeared – and management of Michael Huber München passed to a son-in-law named Hermann Traitteur.

The ups and downs…

This time was followed by a period of war and years of political and economic uncertainty (First and Second World Wars), which quite naturally impacted heavily on the company. Moreover, the production facilities suffered significant damage during the Second World War, which meant that the months and years in the immediate aftermath of Germany’s defeat at the hands of the Allies in May 1945 were taken up with repair and reconstruction work. This was done under the leadership of Walter Ringer (the son of another Huber daughter).

Following the Second World War, MHM began with a workforce numbering between 40 and 50 and with sales worth DM 2 million. Thanks to entrepreneurial aptitude and the “economic miracle”, the company and its sales continued to grow steadily up to 1965 to reach annual sales of DM 20 million. In 1965, the capacity of the production facilities in Haidhausen had reached its limits and the company inaugurated new, modern premises in Kirchheim-Heimstetten on the occasion of its 200th anniversary. This relocation not only marked the transition from a “small” handicraft firm to a modern, industrial enterprise, but also installed the prerequisites for further expansion plans.

Going global…

The first step towards “globalisation” took MHM to northern Germany and culminated with the acquisition of Hostmann-Steinberg in Celle, which at that time was twice the size of Huber itself. By purchasing Hostmann–Steinberg, MHM also purchased a small company in Canada. This was followed later by the acquisition of ET Gleitsmann in Berlin, Stehlin (which merged with Hostmann-Steinberg’s Swiss “appendage”, Hostag, to form Stehlin-Hostag in Switzerland) and then Ireland’s Info-Lab.

After gaining confidence through all of these successful “accomplishments”, the ten years from 1995 to 2005 saw expansion within Europe, with the opening of more foreign subsidiaries and sales companies. The development and growth during this period was initiated and overseen by Heiner Ringer.

Acquisition of Micro Inks…

Heiner Ringer initiated the hubergroup’s greatest adventure of all just a few years later – the acquisition of Micro Inks (now hubergroup India). Initially planned as reverse integration and a way to open up an emerging and growing market, it soon became clear that a ginormous amount of potential and innovative energy was to be found in this company and its employees. Once all of the synergies had been realised and implemented, not only did they have new products based on concentrates of identical quality the whole world over, but also owned a fully integrated “mother plant” with key functions such as R&D and purchasing. This had been precisely the right step in the right direction at the right time.

The journey continues…

Ashwani Bhardwaj, Ursula Borgmann, Heiner Ringer and Heiner Klokkers during launch of Gecko inks in India early this year.The global credit crunch and economic crisis in 2008/9, the continual fall in demand for commercial inks, the growing competitive pressure due to overcapacities …. add to this the end of an almost 250-year-old era of management by the family and a certain degree of unsettledness on the part of the shareholders – all made it difficult at hubergroup.

Was this going to be a great story with a sad end? Far from it! Fairy tales always have a happy end – and hubergroup is now looking to the future with confidence…with great products and unbelievable innovative energy, with a growing market presence that makes them exceedingly interesting to global players, with shareholders and an advisory board who give them their unwavering backing and, above all, with dedicated staff, who have been the cornerstone of their success for 2½ centuries. While there’s always an end to a fairy tale, the Huber fairy tale doesn’t have one!

hubergroup 1765 – 2015 chronology
2015 The two traditional companies Michael Huber München and Hostmann-Steinberg are transforming into hubergroup Deutschland. Many companies are changing their name in the year of the 250-year anniversary.
2014 First company renaming activities towards a globally unified identity under the common brand hubergroup.
2008 Launch of the water-based HYDRO-X printing-ink system for paper and board. Launch of the NewV printing ink system for UV printing.
2007 Launch of innovated sheetfed offset ink series under the common brand of INKREDIBLE.
2006 Major expansion into the Asian market and backward integration by acquiring a majority of Micro Inks Ltd in India. Launch of the solvent-based Gecko printing ink system for flexo and gravure.
2005 Product launch of first fully segregated, GMP conform production for folding box packaging printing inks under the Label MGA.
2002 All members of the hubergroup appear under the common hubergroup logo. Plenty of company foundings further cultivate the ambition to fully cover global availability and service excellence.
1977 Acquisition of Hostmann-Steinberg’sche Farbenfabriken, Celle. A number of company foundings and acquisitions are strengthening the international market presence of the group.
1976 Gleitsmann Security Inks, Berlin, becomes member of hubergroup.
1965 Change of location to Kirchheim-Heimstetten. 200-year anniversary.
1945 Reconstruction of the production facilities, damaged in World War II.
1885 Sons Michael Huber III and Julius inherit management of the Munich factory.
1812 Development of first cylindrical printing press by Friedrich Koenig.
1806 Company moves to Munich and cooperates closely with Senefelder.
1797 Development of lithography by Alois Senefelder.
1765 Mathias Mittermayr, father-in-law of Georg Huber, produces inks to sell them in Germany and abroad.

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