On 1 April, 2002, Carl Hartmann GmbH & Co. KG celebrated 125 years of successful work in the German foreign trade service. This period represents the most rapid development of world trade and the shipping industry in the history of mankind. On April 1, 1877, the company was founded by the Baltimore-born businessman, Carl Hartmann in the wake of the economic boom caused by the 1871 unification of Germany. Ever larger steam ships were put into service, while the number of previously common freighters continued to decrease. At the same time, because of the many emigrants who had found success in the New World, there was a greater demand for German products overseas.
Based on his good connections to North America, Carl Hartmann succeeded in developing his company in only a few years. Before World War II, the successful forwarding company became one of the largest shippers of beer to the US. Bavarian and Czech beers in particular were transported by ship “across the pond”. In addition, successful relationships were also established with companies in India, South Africa, and Asia.
Between the two world wars, business with China, Japan, and Singapore flourished. In 1932, after the death of Carl Hartmann, his son, Adolph Hartmann, took over the company. After long sojourns in the US and Brazil, he returned to his father's company in 1931. As the war began in 1939, the company was forced to cease operations. The office building in Bremen was completely destroyed in one of the first air raids in 1942. After the war, the first task was to re-establish broken connections to colleagues overseas. The German merchant fleet was largely destroyed, and there was no considerable export trade. However, extensive relief supplies from the US had to be distributed throughout Central Europe. In cooperation with American partners, Carl Hartmann was successfully engaged in this area.
Only after the currency reform in 1948 was it conceivable to resume activities in overseas freight forwarding. Interrupted business relationships with prestigious clients and partners were re-established. Long-time employee returned back to "their" company and began to actively rebuild the shipping business. This included John Rübke, who had started as an apprentice in 1927.
This was followed by successful set up phases. The focus remained on the consistent expansion of overseas freight forwarding. A number of renowned industrial clients could once again be handled, and the US government entrusted Carl Hartmann with the handling and shipping of diplomatic freight to and from overseas.
When Adolph Hartmann died in 1974, his former attorney and partner, John Rübke, became the sole owner of the company. Shares in the companies were prevented going to from unrelated parties, which was positive for the further development of the company. In the following years, a highly skilled workforce was established. This included many children of the employees. Special working groups rose to the challenges of containerisation in shipping and data processing and expanded on these areas with great determination. Because of the personal customer service and high professionalism in order processing, the portfolio of loyal customers continued to grow steadily.
At the beginning of 1978, John Rübke took on long-time sole signatory, Friedrich Schubert, as an equal partner. It was necessary to develop a strategy for the emerging changes in logistics and navigation and to secure the independence of the company. Both parties agreed that a high degree of specialisation and first-class technical personnel were essential for doing so. In the following years, in addition to international freight forwarding, the areas of container consolidation services and motor vehicle shipping were expanded. These activities are mainly carried out in cooperation with national and overseas freight forwarding colleagues, who appreciate the cooperation with the neutral experts in the German seaport.
After the unexpected and untimely death of John Rübke in 1984, the company continued to be led by Friedrich Schubert as the sole managing partner. High specialisation in market niches proved so successful that in 1996, we had to move to new and larger offices in the Öhlmühlenstraße, where the company headquarters remain to this day.
In 1999, the long-planned generational change in company leadership began with the appointment of John Mindermann as shareholder and managing director. Mindermann started with Carl Hartmann in 1976. He quickly moved up to chief clerk and is one of those chiefly responsible for the successful development of the last fifteen years.
At the end of December 2002, Friedrich Schubert gave up his managerial position and took on an advisory role.
On 1 January 2003, long-time chief clerks Hermi Dopmann and Andreas Soller became shareholders and were appointed as managing directors. Both men have high professional and personal skills. Together with John Mindermann, they will lead the company of Carl Hartmann into the future.
When Carl Hartmann founded his shipping company in 1877, he could not have imagined how successful it would become. He would certainly be proud that his company has met all of the challenges of the past century.Our services and handling are state-of-the art. However, some aspects of the “days of old” remain: our know