It all began in the year of 1883
“Petersburg” notes the accountant of the small enterprise of Christian Kremp in Wetzlar in the finest handwriting in his mail delivery book as destination of the shipment. He would not dare to believe that this entry would be of interest to anyone some 125 years later. In fact the Company Kremp Wetzlar Präzisionszahnräder GmbH + Co. KG considers this entry of August 1st, 1883 in the mail book the official proof of the founding of the enterprise, which led to the jubilee in the year 2008.
Christian Kemp, the founders career as a carpenter
But let’s take a look back to the year 1842, when on February 1st, in Ennerich on the river Lahn, their only child Christian was born to the miner Johann Georg Kremp and his wife Elisabeth. Father Johann Georg, who was born in Wellmich on the river Rhine, had travelled along the river Lahn to the City of Braunfels in search of better employment.
He started out as a miner, worked his way up to Foremen and finally became Head Foremen and for a certain period of time even co-owner of an iron-ore mine in the area around Solms on the river Lahn. Already in his adolescence, Christian is nimble-fingered and adept, technically and musically interested and would have preferred to start an apprenticeship as a watchmaker. However, such apprenticeships were not available in the area around Braunfels so therefore he started an apprenticeship with his father in the mining industry.
After a year, however, the father relented and let his son start an apprenticeship as a carpenter at Master Conrad Kreiner in Braunfels. Although this is not the desired way for a technically minded watchmakers position, it is however a beginning of a career, requiring creativity and skills.
From the very beginning, Christian shows precision and craftsmanship, much inventiveness and empathy and consequently takes over the carpentry from Konrad Kreiner, who immigrates to the United States in 1867.
...and as a mechanic
At the age of fifteen, Christian had built a guitar including the mechanics on his own, from there on standard spare parts for musical instruments are produced in his carpentry, where also a tuning service is offered. The production shifted increasingly towards musical instruments and the company moved to today’s Lahnstrasse in Wetzlar in the year 1874, but some years later moved again to Hofstatt. In the meantime, Christian auto-didactically taught himself the basics of mechanics and started manufacturing gears and racks for the machine heads of his instruments.
Start of the technical production in Wetzlar – The breakthrough
The Hofstatt period was the breakthrough from the carpentry business to the technical production, when Moritz Hensoldt, a friend of Christian Kremp from his former time in Braunfels, asked his friend for a solution of a technical problem on one of his microscopes. Although the optics of microscopes were already considerably advanced at that time, the mechanisms for focusing and stage movement are lagging behind. Indeed, Christian can offer Moritz Hensoldt a genius solution in the form of a helical drive, and Hensoldt encourages him to keep working in this direction. Kremp realizes the potential of his development and not only constructs the required machine tools but also compiles a standardized manufacturing program with gears and rods, while offering the molding cutters required for the production at the same time.
The optical range is added
It is Hensoldt who introduces Christian Kremp to the basics of optics. Meanwhile, the company resides in Silhöfertorstraße, today‘s Ernst-Leitz-Straße. In the first years of the last century, the program range is extended by optical components and Christian’s son Georg Kremp takes over the company in 1913, while he obtains procuration. He expands the optical range from lenses, magnifying glasses, binoculars and opera glasses up to his own microscope program. During and immediately after the 1st World War, the civil technical production halts to a ground and components for the armament industry are produced; after the war the production of carpentry products is restarted, using the knowledge of the founder.
After a short period, however, optical and mechanical products are manufactured again and exported to many countries. Due to constant expansion of production the spatial situation needs to be improved and bit by bit new buildings in today’s Ernst-Leitz-Straße 44 – 50 with residential- and business premises and an elongated workshop are built.
Christian Kremp had stipulated that after his death the company was to be divided into two areas. One area to continue his life's work, the gearing, to be managed by his grandchildren. The second area to cover the still emerging field of optical products and to be managed by his son Georg. After the death of his father, however, George takes over the management of the gear company on behalf of his minor sons Hermann and Heinrich. The scope of products of the optical company is extended under his leadership and broadened up to a separate camera line, among others the “Kreca”.
The Production 1933 -1945
During the years 1933 to 1945, the company restarts with armament production after the commercial markets for their products had broken down once again. During this difficult period comes hardships for the two Kremp companies: due to “lack of loyalty line”, both companies are severely restricted in their production potential by prohibition of independent armament production and seizure of essential machinery; and last but not least the company is hit by some bomb strikes on their premises during various air raids on Wetzlar.
Development and growth after the 2nd World War
Immediately after the 2nd World War, Georg Kremp and his sons Hermann and Heinrich resumed production and soon everything is back to the prewar level and even beyond. Once again various optical finished products are manufactured and, of course, optical and mechanical components not only for domestic firms, but including customers around the globe are produced. During this time of economic boom, both companies employ at total of 190 workers. However, this number is reduced in the seventies of the last century, mainly in the optical industry due to the increasing competition from the Far East and finally, the operation of the optical company shuts down in 1979.
However, the gear company, managed by Heinrich Kremp, is still in demand as a reliable supplier of precision mechanical components. The buildings in Ernst-Leitz-Straße no longer meet the requirements for the large machinery and production methods and thus, the entire site is sold to the City of Wetzlar during the same year, who builds a fire station on the premises.
The Company today
In 1980, the current buildings on Hörnsheimer Eck in Wetzlar are occupied and the 4th Kremp Generation– mainly Heinrich Kremp’s son Christian -and later also his brother- assumes more and more responsibility. Since 1996, Dipl. Ing. Christian Kremp manages the company as sole shareholder and CEO and must quickly implement the challenges of a rapidly changing market in technical aspects. He introduces CNC-engineering, modernizes the machine park and strategically focuses the company on the production of high-precision components even in small- and micro series and away from large-scale productions, in which the company can no longer prevail against the competition from Asia.
The Company Kremp Wetzlar Präzisionszahnräder Christian Kremp GmbH + Co. KG thus follows the tradition of its founder, who changed the company from a carpentry to a technical enterprise with ingenuity and solution-oriented, flexible acting. The company, grown from small roots, today presents itself as the last enterprises of a number of optics and precision engineering companies, not only family-owned but also managed by the owner. Various companies could not survive economically, were sold or taken over by investors and the only thing in common is the founder’s name.
The tradition lives on
Today, the company acts as a partner of leading companies in the field of precision engineering, optics, mechanical engineering and medical technology; specialized on the production of precise gearwheels, racks and gearings for all possible components and in all possible materials. The strength lies in the custom-tailored realization of customer demands apart from mass production, which requires maximum accuracy and reliability, even down to the production of only one single piece. With a staff of 20 employees and a most-modern machine park also today large series are produced at favorable prices and a broad range of standardized gear wheels and racks in many shapes are available in our in-house catalogue.
Although handwriting nowadays is a long forgotten piece of art and a disdainful digital scripture has taken its place, the computer today prints out worldwide destinations as recipients for the products of Kremp from Wetzlar on the river Lahn...