Our history – how it all began ...
Neudoerfler can look back on more than seven decades of experience. How did the company come about? Travel back with us to 1946, the year our company was founded. The Second World War was over and destroyed cities had to be rebuilt. At the time, a master carpenter by the name of Karl Markon came across an empty factory in Neudörfl. He took the opportunity to establish a carpentry business here.
Office furniture was to become the company’s main focus at a later date. However, his first large order was not for office furniture, but for something quite different. What, you may be wondering? It was for 3,000 wheelbarrows, which were urgently needed for the reconstruction effort. The unusual order was fulfilled to everyone’s satisfaction. Entrepreneur Karl Markon and his team also constantly acquired new skills as time went on. Clever solutions have always been one of Neudoerfler’s strengths.
Over the years, Neudoerfler grew from a small family company to a leading Burgenland business, surviving more than a few crises on the way to the success story it is today.
1946: The founding of “Neudoerfler Türen-, Fenster- und Möbelfabrik Ges.m.b.H.”
Karl Markon – From apprentice to owner of a construction joinery
Karl Markon was born in 1905 in Graz. He came from an extremely poor family of 11 children. After completing his schooling during the First World War, he began his apprenticeship at a master carpenter’s in Graz in 1919. After completing his apprenticeship in 1924, Karl Markon worked in Austria, Hungary and Italy as an itinerant craftsman. Ultimately, he stayed on as a carpenter’s assistant and foreman at a factory in Vienna. After passing his master’s examination, Markon went into business for himself and opened his own construction joinery company in Vienna-Ottakring.
In the 1930s, a time marked by mass unemployment and poverty, the master carpenter employed several dozen people over the year. However, in May 1940, Karl Markon was called up to the Wehrmacht and the carpentry firm was closed. It didn’t start up again until the end of the war.
12 June 1946 – New beginnings in Neudörfl
Having been released from captivity as a prisoner of war under the Americans in April 1946, the now 40-year-old Karl Markon found himself right back at square one, as his Viennese construction joinery had been confiscated by the French occupying power. He learned from an acquaintance about Neudörfl in Burgenland, where “the Russians had vacated an empty weaving mill they had set up as a large-scale repair workshop for tanks”. Markon considered the building in question as being entirely suitable for the location of a new carpentry workshop.
Getting everything set up was fraught with difficulties, but by 12 June 1946, they had surmounted the initial hurdles and “Neudoerfler Türen-, Fenster- und Möbelfabrik Ges.m.b.H.” opened for business. Karl Markon was its sole managing director.
1947 – 1955: From rebuilding period to “economic miracle”
On course for success with “Neudoerfler office furniture”!
Karl Markon’s business started out with eight employees. The first order of substance was for the production of 3,000 wheelbarrows for the town of Wiener Neustadt in September 1946, which was followed by an order for a further 2,000 units. These were needed in the town for clearing away the rubble created by the heavy bombardments during the war. The material needed was procured from the windfall wood of the Neunkirchen pine forest.
The young company battled with enormous difficulties in the early days. Everything was in short supply, which is why “scavenging trips” were made to various sawmills. They kept their heads above water with often curious small orders for the Soviet occupying power, such as the manufacture of windows for manure hotbeds and picture frames.
Amongst other things, Neudoerfler also manufactured mortar boxes, fruit and vegetable boxes, sofa beds, and doors and windows for bombed-out buildings in Vienna. The first annual balance sheet at the end of 1946 closed with a loss of 47,000 schillings. Despite this, the headcount had grown to 37 people.
A large order for 300 desks for the Burgenland provincial government finally heralded the start of office furniture production. Before that, they hadn’t made a single desk. The know-how came from an employee from Vienna, who had previously made desks at another furniture factory.
In 1948, the so-called “Wohnschlafzimmer”, or living-bedroom, was produced and advertised at exhibitions and in advertisements. Kitchen sideboards were also manufactured. Nevertheless, in the late 1940s, a clear trend crystallised towards the production of office furniture, which quickly accounted for the lion’s share of output.
Karl Markon succeeded in positioning his young company as one of the leading houses in the office furniture sector in a just a few short years. The one thousandth desk rolled off the production line in Neudörfl in 1950. In October 1952, turnover was already 4 million schillinga, the number of employees over 80. To simplify sales, despatch warehouses were set up in Vienna, Graz, Klagenfurt, Innsbruck, Dornbirn and Linz from 1951 and in Salzburg in 1954.
In the mid-1950s, 30 types of office furniture were already being series manufactured. There were numerous versions available, especially for cabinets and desks. The flagship was the T 156 desk. By the turn of the millennium, it embodied the classic idea of the Austrian official’s office.
A wave of great joy rolled through the company when the one thousandth desk was sold in 1950.
1956 – 1961: The start of a new era – Construction of the new “Neudoerfler Möbelfabrik Karl Markon” furniture factory
Modern new-build heralds series manufacture
Improvisation was the order of the day at the old location by the mid-1950s. The cramped conditions – the company now had almost 140 employees – and the conditions stipulated in the rental contract were storing up problems for the company. The municipality of Neudörfl and the government of Burgenland welcomed the project to construct a new building.
Financial support meant a modern furniture factory could be built on the site of today’s principal location between September 1956 and May 1957. The new building also marked the start of industrial series manufacture on a grand scale.
Business at Neudoerfler shot up in the 1950s and 1960s after the new factory went into operation. The first apprentice carpenters were trained in the newly established training workshop from 1957 in order to be able to cover the constantly increasing demand for qualified specialists. Office clerks also joined the team from 1967.
Desks for success in typewriting
An original order typical of this time should also be mentioned: in August 1959, world typewriting championships were held at Vienna City Hall. Neudoerfler supplied 350 (!) “Type No. 90” typewriter desks for the occasion.
Social activities – an affair of the heart
In 1961, Karl Markon also had a canteen for 190 people and a factory kitchen set up in the new building, where an affordable lunch was cooked for the employees every day. The social vein of Markon, a died-in-the-wool social democrat, is still especially mentioned by everyone who knew him personally.
Mayor Dieter Posch recounts, “He bought up entire performances at the Raimund Theatre and took the entire workforce there, because as he put it: ‘The worker also needs culture!’. At a time when nobody spoke about the risk of ‘drink driving’, he had employees driven home from the Christmas party.”
1962 – 1969: Expansion during the time of the “economic miracle”
Modernisation and internationalisation
In the 1960s, the company also slowly started serving the European market. Regular deliveries started to Germany and the offices of the OECD in Paris. From the mid-1960s, Neudoerfler office furniture also became available in Switzerland.
In 1968, a new office furnishings centre was established at Museumstrasse 5 (7th district) in Vienna, subsequently serving as the flagship showroom, a despatch warehouse and the Vienna headquarters.
The product range was also gradually expanded. For the exclusive customer segment, there was the “Herrenzimmer” range (later Management Office). The “Bossewand”, which could be used as a cabinet wall or partition, developed into a classic.
1970 – 1979: Celebrated and honoured – from the 25th anniversary to the conferment of the State Coat of Arms
The 1970s – Neudoerfler on course for expansion
The 25th anniversary was fittingly celebrated with great pomp and many guests in June 1971. In the company’s silver anniversary year, it already had 261 employees, including seven apprentices, making it one of the most important employers in the area.
By the beginning of the 1970s, conversions, rationalisations and extensions resulted in the constant enlargement of the factory site, which now included a new production shop and an open-plan office. In April 1971, Neudoerfler purchased the Hofstättner company. All metal parts and base frames were made in “Factory No. II” and powder-coated in an automated plant.
In 1975, the sole proprietorship was converted into a “GmbH”, a company with limited liability. The following year, Neudoerfler received a special award that in some ways also represented the pinnacle of Karl Markon’s life’s work: in 1976/1977, the company was the first manufacturer of office furniture to be granted the right to display the State Coat of Arms in social communications for its services to the Austrian economy. To mark the occasion, federal minister Dr Josef Staribacher, who presented the State Coat of Arms certificate, and provincial governor Theodor Kery visited the Neudörfler company.
Colour in the office and luxury for managers
More colour in the office and furniture for managers – the gaudy 1970s! At this time, a human, friendly working environment and business climate was propagated, to which the office furnishing was also intended to contribute. The “FIB series” (“Colour in the Office”) was designed completely from scratch in 1973.
FIB also defined the movement away from wood and towards synthetics, and initiated a profound change in office furniture. Only the so-called “Management Range” indulged in the extensive use of (now protected) precious woods as a reminder of the old Herrenzimmer.
1980 – 2000: From the golden 1980s to the crisis at the turn of the millennium
Postmodernism in the office
The business success of the office furniture factory reached new dimensions. At the beginning of the 1970s, the company recorded average growth rates in sales of around 22 percent. While turnover was some 90 million schillings in 1970, it had risen to 516 million schillings by 1999. The headcount also grew in parallel with this, from around 260 employees in 1971 to a maximum of 413 people in 1995.
At the end of the 1970s, the first IT workstations appeared in the catalogues, described in those days as “computer workstations”. In addition, there were whole new product areas, such as bank furnishings (1981) or the “Neudoerfler hospital wall” (1983), which was included in the range to mark the fitting out of the new Wiener Neustadt hospital.
FIB was replaced by new ranges from the mid-1990s onwards. The standard “Motiva” range was launched on the market in 2001. A new management range was presented under the label “MARK” and with the line “Markon von Neudoerfler”. There was also the “Uni-System” (for conference and seminar rooms, hotels, schools and libraries), whose “Uni-Work” table received multiple awards, including the “Red Dot Design Award in 2000”, one of the most prestigious design prizes.
A legend stands down
The company’s founder, Karl Markon, remained active as managing partner of the company he founded until 1995. Only at 90 years of age did he make way for the next generation: his daughter Monika Klettenhammer-Markon and his son-in-law Gerhard Klettenhammer, both of whom had already stood by Markon as managing directors.
The “gentleman of the old school”, who during his lifetime had become a legend in post-war Burgenland, if not Austria, died on 11 June 2000.
For his services, Karl Markon was awarded, amongst others, the title of Councillor for Commerce (1956), the “Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria” (1966) and Honorary Citizenship of the Market Municipality of Neudörfl (1975).
With the departure of Neudoerfler’s founder, there undoubtedly came to an end an era that was characterised by a special feeling of belonging, which had connected him and his employees (from apprentices to retirees) like one big family.
2000 – 2011: Phoenix from the ashes, or the crisis and its conquest
The end of a family company (1996 to 2003)
Markon’s son-in-law, Gerhard Klettenhammer, joined the company in the 1960s, initially as the sales director in Vienna and then for the whole of Austria. His daughter Monika had worked in the company since 1968. The economy was going through a difficult time when the two of them took over management of the company. The first collapse in sales occurred in the first half of the 1990s and was followed by a drop in the number of employees. By the end of the 1990s, the company was still doing very well, but then came the big crash.
The new management team at Neudoerfler tried to counteract it by giving the company a more modern and attractive look. From 1996 to 1999, a new, large assembly shop was built and the administration building was remodelled and given an extension as well as an attractive showroom. In order to be ready for the new millennium, a total of around 85 million schillings were invested over a period of one and half years. A new Vienna headquarters at Schwarzenbergplatz 7 replaced the office centre on Museumsstrasse. In 1998, a location was opened in Budapest in order to be able to better serve the Eastern European market.
The opening of a new showroom in Graz followed in October 2000. A refurbishment of the offices, a new IT system, and above all new products were intended to move the company forwards. This was accompanied by the development of a new corporate identity with the redesign of the logo in 1997 and then again in 2001. In 1999, the export ratio was still only 8 percent and the share of the domestic market 13 percent, so attempts were made to position the company better on the international stage.
But despite these efforts, the company made a loss of almost €3 million in 2001, and still €1.4 million in 2002. The company was under extreme pressure in those days due to a massive decline in public orders and a crisis in the construction industry.
Back to success from 2006: Neudoerfler Office Systems
REB Restrukturierungs- und Beteiligungsges.m.b.H. under Dr Erhard F. Grossnigg and TSB AG under Mag. Anton Schubaschitz and Dr Johann Gneist took over 100 percent of the Neudoerfler furniture factory in September 2003. Support during this difficult phase came from the municipality of Neudörfl, which accepted a liability worth millions of euros.
Over the next three years, the company was completely overhauled and restructured. “The company had a solid base, excellent employees, good products and superb infrastructure, but a disastrous cost structure,” says Ing. Günther Marchtrenker, who was appointed managing director in 2004. Costs were minimised, the organisation restructured and productivity massively increased. The nadir of 230 employees was reached in 2005. The economic turnaround was finally achieved in 2006. In the same year, the company was also renamed “Neudoerfler Office Systems GmbH”, in order to be able to achieve greater success on international markets.
In 2008, the private equity fund Athena Burgenland Beteiligungen AG, under the management of Mag. Klaus Stinakovits and Dr Georg Schönbauer, acquired 40 percent of Neudoerfler Office Systems GmbH. This intervention provided the company with the fresh liquidity needed to enable further growth and the required process optimisations. While the entire industry was reporting declines in turnover of up to 30 percent, Neudoerfler managed to report an increase in turnover of 5 percent in the first half of 2009. This was made possible by optimisations to the production process as well as the overhaul and redesign of the product range, all for a total investment of €2.7 million.
Managing Director Ing. Günther Marchtrenker left Neudoerfler, whose destiny he had steered since 2004, at the end of 2009. Following his departure, Mag. Helmut Sattler took over the position of CEO in October 2010 and acted as managing director of the traditional company together with CFO Mag. Doris Bock (from the beginning of 2009).
In 2010, Neudoerfler won numerous large orders from new customers in Austria and the export countries and was finally also able to secure the largest single order in the company’s history – the framework contract to supply standard office furniture to the Federal Procurement Agency (Bundesbeschaffungsgesellschaft - BBG). This order also meant that Neudoerfler was able to fit out numerous agencies, authorities and courts with office furniture, which also had a positive impact on turnover.
2012 – 2016: 70 years of Neudoerfler office furniture
Neudoerfler is market leader again.
To mark the company’s 70th anniversary in 2016, Neudoerfler looked back over the most successful years of the company’s history. Without doubt the most spectacular order of this period was the furnishing of the new Vienna University of Economics and Business in 2013. This project of superlatives ultimately furnished six buildings with 45,000 items of furniture. Neudoerfler equipped the seminar rooms, offices and self-study zones.
In order to strengthen the company’s position on the German market, the decision was taken at the beginning of 2014 to acquire the brand and product know-how of the respected Germany office furniture manufacture “planmöbel”, whose customers included Zalando, adidas, Soundcloud and MTV. In the spring of 2014, production was moved from Espelkamp in Germany to northern Burgenland, where the products for the German subsidiary have been manufactured at the main factory in Neudörfl ever since.
From 2010 to 2013, the company grew against the general market trend by over 40 percent and positioned itself as the market leader (office and seating furniture) in Austria in 2013. In 2014, it increased its export share by several million euros from seven to 19 percent.
Throughout its history, Neudoerfler has been regularly awarded numerous prizes and internationally important quality seals for the successful combination of function and design. The renowned “red dot award” for outstanding product design was received several times.
2016 – 2020: Change and growth
A new chapter begins.
The years 2016 to 2020 were characterised by growth and change. To create synergies and achieve a stronger market position, Neudoerfler has been managed under BGO Holding since the end of 2015.
The direction for the future should be set when times are good. Thus a new brand positioning was developed for Neudoerfler in 2018. This also included a relaunch of the logo. The new Neudoerfler logo stands for individual, clever solutions, for comfortable offices made in Austria, for closeness to people, for people who make things happen.
Fresh blood also joined the management of Neudoerfler during this year. The reins were taken over by Mag. Heidi Adelwöhrer as CEO and CFO, and DI Bernhardt Kronnerwetter, MBA, as COO.
The new brand alignment can also be seen in the product world. The MyMotion product line, whose clever details are orientated entirely towards the individual needs of people in the office, was launched at the beginning of 2019. MyMotion turns previously unused areas into additional storage space and helps to organise the workplace in a playfully simple way. MyMotion has something for everyone and offers individualisation in the office. The company's growth continues steadily. The major milestone came in 2018: annual turnover exceeded the 50 million mark for the first time in the company’s history and was increased by a further 10% in 2019.
As a traditional Austrian company, Neudoerfler values short transport distances and selects suppliers based on factors such as their regional proximity. Environmental protection is practised here daily. This is also reflected by another quality seal awarded in 2019. Neudoerfler is the first company in Burgenland to have been awarded the Austrian eco-label. The PEFC seal (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) has already confirmed sustainable forestry for several years.