Mr. Klingberg, how did you decide to start the Häfft publishing house? What was the path to the first copies?
In 1990, as 14-year-old school newspaper creators, we had the idea to create a beautiful and at the same time funny homework book for our classmates, with funny drawings and teacher sayings, lots of space for practical functions and games. such as cheese boxes and sinking ships. Our classmates were immediately enthusiastic. In our fourth year and with a driver’s license in our pocket, we then came up with the “Munich Homework Book” which we sold in some neighborhood schools. The name Häfft wasn’t added until 1996, and Häfft-Verlag GmbH wasn’t even founded until 2005.
What advice would you give to young people who want to successfully implement their creative ideas (perhaps without even studying)?
As you can see, it didn’t go through the roof right away either. The great idea for a fun “homework book with heart and soul” came immediately, but in the meantime we patiently worked on it until we could afford an office and more and more staff. Just as importantly, things don’t always go uphill, and there have been many setbacks in between. We were lucky to have just survived the New Economy Crisis of 2001!
How does the Häfft publishing house keep up with the times? For example, can you imagine a kind of “digital homework notebook” or other school supplies in digital form. Do you see your physical products being threatened by digital offerings?
There is already a very successful “digital homework book” called WhatsApp! By far the most homework is coordinated (and changed) every week in Germany through this messenger service. Also, there will always be room for offline suggestions, as handwriting and all simply continue to have great benefits. Especially since many schools across Germany still ban cell phones in classrooms, not to mention lack of electricity or bad internet.
You always pushed your project further, you wanted to see how far you could go. Today, Häfft products are extremely popular and the publishing house is very successful. Is there another “big goal” you’re working towards, or are you already planning to pass it on to the next generation?
We aim for small goals. General conditions are very difficult at the moment due to very high paper prices and many specialist stationery dealers. In this regard, we are currently still trying to establish ourselves in the market. We, the two founders of Häfft Andy Reiter and Stefan Klingberg, are not tired yet, but maybe one day the former school newspaper project Häfft will actually become a family business.
The management team at Häfft was changed last year. How did this happen? Are there other publishing interests behind this decision?
We appointed André Simon, a long-time key account manager, as an authorized signatory and filled the vacant position of sales manager with Hermann Hopf. However, in previous years, we have consistently held leadership positions in all areas, be it graphics, production or sales. As a creative and dynamic publisher, we are also disproportionately young and have arranged many days of parental leave, which is becoming easier and easier thanks to flexible part-time solutions. We have a great team, the employees give us the feeling that they really enjoy developing together with Häfft-Verlag and Häfft-Verlag. Only with this motivated team can we maintain our innovative strength as a creative publisher!
The past two years have not been easy for the book industry. The school closures coincided with coronavirus-related closures. How have you survived this time and how has the pandemic changed your business?
Fortunately, the publishing house Häfft was technically very well placed even before the pandemic. In this way, we were able to set up remote workplaces in the home office for all employees very quickly. Therefore, after the first coronary shock, we were able to work productively again very quickly. In the specialty trade and our calendar business, of course, there was a noticeable decline due to the closure. It helped us a lot that we already had a broad distribution base, because everything quickly moved to supermarkets,…