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60 Years of Service

Two of their sons, Fred and Alfred Baumgarten, worked in the family business and fine-tuned their skills with university degrees as "papierfachman", paper specialists. Baumgarten & Sohne were a hit and they had the manufacturing to prove it!

WWII stormed through their homes and the family split-up to survive. Baumgartens & Sohne dissolved.

Upon arrival in the USA, Fred hunted from Massachusetts to Georgia for a job in the paper industry. Over a period of 5 years, Fred with his wife Marianne and their two boys, Hans and Peter, zigzagged their way to Atlanta. He settled in as a paper importer and broker, but this only lasted for a few years. Meanwhile Hans decided to join the army to go back and fight, but it wasn't long after his return to the USA that his father Fred, burning with the family trademark of entrepreneurialism, started up the family business once again with a shipment of handheld pencil sharpeners, an American first.

As the story goes, Fred ordered cases of the product sight unseen. It was 1948 and Baumgarten's was in business!

Now came the problem. Fred NEVER drove a car in the USA. How would he sell these darn things? Well the office product industry even had trade magazines back in 1948 and that is where he began. Miniature advertisements brought Baumgarten's the solid foundation needed for the first half century.

Shortly after Hans' army days, my mother Jean entranced him and it wasn't long until the first of my 4 sisters, Susan was born. By the time they had my other three sisters, Hans, at 30, was welcomed into the family business - as shipping clerk and his wife Jean tried her hand at marketing, sales strategy and developing new products, yes and shipping occasionally too!

Fred and Marianne would clear off the kitchen table to make room for pencil sharpeners to be shipped across the USA. Slowly, many other office and gift products were added to the line and in 1963 came "The Plastiklip". Hans pleaded with his father not to add this product. "Who would want such a thing?" he asked. But the public very quickly proved they did, and the family business thrived.

As her children grew up, Jean took on more and more of the leadership of the company and thirty-four years later the fourth generation have arrived with both Susan Baumgarten and me taking part in the family tradition.

Hans is no longer the shipping clerk and we don't work on the kitchen table any more, but the family business is ready to embrace the next half-century of change, innovation, and new family members along the way!

David Baumgarten

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