Mathias Wiemann, the son of Heinrich Wilhelm Wiemann, a farmer in the German village of Oesede, was born on 24 January 1877.
After he finished primary school, he completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter before doing the obligatory “Wanderjahre” ‒ the years when journeymen travel around practising their trade. In 1900 he returned to Oesede and opened his own craft business in a small 15-m2 cellar in “Herberge”, an inn that his now-deceased parents-in-law had owned.
In 1902 Mathias Wiemann trained his first apprentice. In the same year, Heinrich Wilhelm Wiemann, who would later take over the company, was born. Wiemann equipped a 65-m2 workshop the following year and bought a used petrol engine in 1907 along with his first machines, including a drill, a band saw, a milling machine and a planing machine.
As well as manufacturing furniture such as chests and sideboards to order between 1903 and 1906, Mathias Wiemann made pews for St. Peter und Paul, a Catholic church in Oesede. In addition to practising his trade, Wiemann worked as a farmer and innkeeper, though he viewed the latter purely as a secondary source of income.
1900 – 1909
Mathias Wiemann, the son of Heinrich Wilhelm Wiemann, a farmer in the German village of Oesede, was born on 24 January 1877.
1910 - 1919
The First World War raged between 1914 and 1918, a war in which even small enterprises like Wiemann’s cabinetmaking business had to “serve”. The company produced reels for the wire rope industry in the town of Bad Iburg along with other products for everyday use.
In 1917, Wilhelm Wiemann began his apprenticeship as a carpenter in his father’s company. Over the course of the following years, the number of employees increased to an impressive total of 15.
After the period of inflation between 1922 and 1923, the economy recovered and so by 1925, at the latest, the cabinetmaking business – with Wilhelm Wiemann’s assistance – was once more producing high-quality products. Mathias Wiemann added the “Drop” farm to his agricultural estate the following years, which meant that his property increased by 45 hectares.
The once small cabinetmaker’s changes its name to “Mathias Wiemann – Mechanische Bau- und Möbeltischlerei" ("Mathias Wiemann – Construction Carpenter") in 1927.
1930 - 1939
The global economic crisis triggered by the New York Stock Exchange crash in 1929 hit Mathias Wiemann’s growing company so hard that it took financial cutbacks and the greatest efforts to make it through the years between 1930 and 1934.
Instead of making the company smaller, Wiemann expanded his distribution channels, gradually switching over to serial production and specialising in the manufacture of bedroom furniture. In 1934, the cabinet maker’s changed its name to “Oeseder Möbel-Industrie Mathias Wiemann” (“Oesede Furniture Industry Mathias Wiemann”).
Wilhelm Wiemann married Josefa Antonia Möllers on 5 October 1936. Their son, Mathias A. Wiemann, was born on 30 November of the following year. By 1939, a good 40 bedrooms a day were leaving the company, which now employed 180 people.
1940 - 1949
With the outbreak of the Second World War, the Wiemanns had to adapt their business for the war economy and stop its serial production of bedrooms, which had got off to a very good start. Instead, high numbers of barracks were manufactured. Right at the beginning of the war, Wiemann was the first wood-processing company to introduce the REFA system, which would be of great value to the company when peacetime eventually returned.
Orders were given to blow up the factory on 2 April 1945 in order to prevent the war production facility from ending up in "enemy hands". Wilhelm Wiemann prevented this from happening by having all remnants of war production buried in the forest. On 1 May 1945, the British ordered Wiemann to remain solely focused on the manufacture of barracks. Wiemann defied this order, however, by producing small items of furniture for civilian use.
The River Düte flooded the company’s premises in 1946 and 1947, destroying much of the wood and veneer stocks along with the production systems in the production halls. The company’s founder, Mathias Wiemann, died on 24 March 1947. Wilhelm Wiemann inherited the company, making his half-brother Josef a full partner. Josef died in 1952.
In 1948, 187 employees worked for the company. That year, the British authorised Wiemann to return to civil production. In order to ensure that the company was able to expand in spite of the staff shortage caused by the war, Wilhelm Wiemann founded an apprenticeship workshop that trained 20-30 carpenters a year. One year later, production moved to a new hall.
1950 - 1959
Oeseder Möbel-Industrie benefitted from the 'economic miracle' in 1950, manufacturing all kinds of furniture in its plant, which now measured 24,000 m2. The company now had 300 employees. In August 1950, Wiemann had to tell its customers that due to very high demand, no more orders could be taken for the months September and October. The situation became easier to manage a year later thanks to double shifts and state-of-the-art production processes.
The company premises and production halls were again hit by floods on 15 August 1954, which destroyed production facilities, materials and finished products. To avoid such disasters in future, Wilhelm Wiemann called for the establishment of the "Wasser und Bodenverband Düte" (The Düte Water and Ground Association), which aimed to develop, strengthen and regulate the Düte. This work was largely complete by 1963.
In 1956, Wiemann reacted to an everyday problem that was becoming increasingly common by offering the “Wiemann revolving TV stand”. A customer wrote in a letter in 1957, “Wherever this decorative, practical furniture features in window displays, it sells extremely well.“ The furniture trade fair in Cologne became established as an international trade exhibition in the 1950s. Oeseder Möbel-Industrie took on the competition here every year.
In summer 1960, Wilhelm Wiemann told a friend that, for the moment, a company holiday was out of the question. Instead, new shifts were organised and new staff employed to meet the high demand. Around 60,000 households were supplied with "OMI” (Oeseder Möbel-Industrie) products every year. The company's market now stretched beyond Europe to include the USA, Canada, South America, Asia, Arabia, South Africa and Cyprus.
The company’s premises grew to 32,000 m2 during the 1960s and an average of 550 people (including 200 specialists) worked there. A chipboard production facility was set up in 1960 in order to make the company as independent of suppliers as possible. Every day, 64 m3 of chipboard was manufactured. Two-thirds of this was used by the company, while the other third was sold. The farm's last cow was sold in the same year. The company now focused exclusively on manufacturing furniture.
Between 1960 and 1969, Wiemann made investments worth more than DM 5,000,000, buying more properties and building further multipurpose halls on them. In addition, a punchcard system was introduced, as were modern polyester painting machines and forklifts. At the same time, veneering – which up to then had involved a great deal of manual labour – was transferred to industrial mass production. On 1 January 1966, Mathias Andrea Wiemann became director of the company as a limited partner, taking over 50% of the shares. This made Oeseder Möbel-Industrie an "offene Handelsgesellschaft" (general partnership).
Markus Wiemann was born on 30 May 1968.
Sensing growing export opportunities in France, Wiemann founded a branch in the Saarland (“Wiemann-Möbel Saar OHG Kirkel-Neuhäusel”) in 1960. Luckily the labour market was much better in the Saarland than in the company's home town of Oesede.
Wiemann celebrated successes, was widely known for its state-of-the-art operations and was valued as a business partner. For that reason, visitors came from Paris, Puerto Rico, Buenos Aires and Moscow to view the production plant. In 1970, the foundation stone was laid for the first phase of construction of the “Wiemann-Möbel Saar OHG Kirkel-Neuhäusel”.
Flexitime was introduced in Oesede, making Wiemann a pioneer in the region.
At the same time, Wiemann built more production halls, installed roller conveyers and updated its delivery system. At the heart of this system was the newly built “Wiemann Furniture Station”, which allowed 16 furniture lorries to be loaded simultaneously. This forward-looking transfer point was generously dimensioned and so was able to cope with rising sales.
In order to accommodate plans to export to France, another subsidiary, "Wiemann-Meubles-France", was founded in Paris. Thirty per cent of the furniture manufactured in the Saarland plant was delivered here. In 1973, the "Saarbrücker Zeitung" reported that sales had risen considerably in France.
As production was also growing dramatically in Oesede, the company’s own chipboard manufacturing facility could no longer meet demand and was sold to Mexico. While the amount of space rose to 36,000 m2, the sale of the chipboard manufacturing facility meant that the number of employees decreased to 521.
As well as manufacturing bedrooms, children’s rooms and wall units, the furniture factory began to produce lockers for the Bundeswehr in order to ensure that it was utilising its capacities even in quieter months. The plant in Kirkel-Neuhäusel was closed in 1974, as it failed to fulfil expectations. Property, machines and buildings were sold at a loss.
The sales company in Paris was closed in 1976. Wilhelm and Mathias A. Wiemann invested private capital to compensate for these losses and further modernise the Oesede plant. In addition, the number of employees was reduced from 516 to 391 in 1973, a year of crisis.
Having largely survived the crisis of 1976, the number of employees in Oeseder Möbel-Industrie had gone back up to 641 by the end of 1979. In 1977, the senior director, Wilhelm Wiemann, resigned at the age of 75, passing over full control of the company to Mathias A. Wiemann.
The “inn” was integrated into the company’s new administrative building in the 1980s and was completely converted into offices.
Wiemann, which was now one of the five biggest bedroom manufacturers in the Federal Republic of Germany, migrated its production to order-based series production.
Because of the growing shortage of space in the company premises, a multistorey parts warehouse was constructed in 1986 and the “Mittelstraße” (middle street) was roofed to ensure that parts could be transported safely even in bad weather conditions.
Wilhelm Wiemann died on 28 March 1986. From 1988, the company was called “Oeseder Möbel-Industrie Mathias Wiemann GmbH & Co. KG” and management was transferred in the same year to “MW Möbel Verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH”.
In 1989 the company gave up its own lorries in order to profit economically from no longer having to provide the return loads that are obligatory for company transport.
Two assembly halls and a warehouse burned to the ground in August 1991. Prudent intervention by the fire brigade prevented the flames from spreading further. The criminal investigation department later established that arson was the cause of the disaster. The company’s management estimated that the resulting damage amounted to between DM 25 million and DM 30 million.
Mathias A. Wiemann praised employees’ incredible commitment and hoped that the company would be manufacturing again without any delays by the end of the year. The company had hardly overcome the first calamity when another fire broke out in January 1992, causing material damage amounting to DM 5 million. The criminal investigation department arrested the arsonist a few days later. This time production could luckily continue unaffected.
The fourth generation entered the furniture factory in 1994 when Markus Wiemann became a limited partner. After completing his studies in business management, Markus Wiemann started working for the company in 1999.
From 1995 onwards, the DIN EN ISO 9001 management system helped to systematically meet customers’ quality requirements. Further investments were made to equip the entire plant with a modern fire protection system, renovate old production halls and build new production halls. By the end of the 1990s, there were 28 halls on a developed area measuring around 48,600 m2.
In 1994, Wiemann took over a wood-processing factory south of Warsaw, Poland. The plan was to produce laminated wood economically here, which would then be further processed in Oesede.
From 1998, Oeseder Möbel-Industrie concentrated purely on its core competency – the manufacture of bedroom furniture and individual cabinets. As a result of rationalisation, modern management and the founding of the plant in Poland, the number of employees in Oesede declined to an average of 460.
2000 - 2010
Wiemann celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2000 with a big “family party” to thank the team for all its hard work.
Markus Wiemann took over the majority of the company shares from his father on 23 December 2004. The changeover was recorded in the Commercial Register on 3 March 2005. Numerous investments were made over the course of this decade, work processes were optimised and requirements for new production facilities were created.
Six production halls were newly roofed, noise protection measures were developed and environmentally friendly power systems were introduced. And all this was achieved while production continued uninterrupted!
A new painting and "multipurpose production line" redefined quality and productivity.
The Düte once again flooded its banks in 2010, submerging the production halls and the dispatch area. Thanks to the determination and commitment of the employees, the fire brigade, and neighbouring farmers, who provided their slurry pumps to pump out the water, the plant was back in operation after only four days.
The former inn is now a 98,000-m2 site incorporating 48,000 m2 of production halls, administrative offices and warehouses.
Every day 400 to 500 bedrooms set out from here to destinations throughout Europe and beyond.