More about the Renner Story
Extract from the commemorative publication for the 75th anniversary of the company:
From the history of the house of Louis Renner
In 1882, after careful consideration, after much thought and many sleepless nights, in the realization that the technology in the construction of musical instruments, in this case especially pianos, had a successful future ahead of them, Louis Renner set up a workshop in Stuttgart and began the manual production of piano mechanisms on an autumn day, around the middle of October.
Despite the modest size of the company, there was already the ingenious spark in it that was to give it a global reputation, but neither its founder nor his few employees would have guessed at that time what a strong tree would develop from the small sapling in 75 years. He was granted success in the first few years and decades.
20 years later - in 1902 - the old rooms were much too small for him. But for the far-sighted founder and boss, the expansion was no longer a risk. Generous and open to everything new, he had a modern factory building built on today's Fritz-Reuter-Strasse. The workforce had grown to 35 people, but the restless work, the planning, improvement, enlargement, in short, the management of the whole, constantly developing company had damaged the health of the founder and initiator Louis Renner so badly that he decided in autumn In 1902 he had to withdraw from the business entirely.
On October 1, 1902, Oscar Renner, a son of the founder, and Wilhelm Megenhardt took over the company in equal shares. The former as the technical, the latter as the commercial manager, they followed in the footsteps of their father and friend and tried very successfully to continue this happy and brilliantly founded company in his sense. In the summer of 1903, the building, which today forms the centerpiece of the operating facilities, was moved into.
The year 1906 was significant for the company as the manufacture of hammer heads, which required special equipment, was started. The number of employees rose steadily in the following years, so that in 1911 the number 100 could already be exceeded. Another new building had to be planned, which would enable the foreseeable expansion of production:
the expansion of the factory towards Fritz-Reuter-Straße was carried out and the large transverse building was erected there. Now that the question of space had been resolved, Oscar Renner, always ready to press ahead with the mechanization of his company, set out to equip the company with modern machines, to introduce labor-saving methods, and above all to switch from transmissions to the Single drive with hundreds of electric motors.
In order to unite all branches of the production of piano mechanisms in one hand and thus to give the production program a certain rounding off, the production of grand piano mechanisms has now also been started. At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the company had 175 members; Fortunately, the interruption in the manufacture of mechanics and hammer heads lasted only a short time. Just a few years after the end of the hostilities, the number of employees rose to almost 400. The reputation that the products of the Renner company had acquired in the field of piano mechanics at home and abroad caused the company to grow steadily despite inflation and internal political crises. and in the post-war years of 1925/26 the factory building had to experience a considerable expansion towards the east.
But then a painful year approached 1928: on December 13, Oscar Renner was torn from the company by his sudden death in the middle of his work. The loss of the only fifty-year-old boss meant a severe blow to the company, and the gap opened by his passing appeared to be almost impossible to close at first.
Wilhelm Megenhardt was now determined by fate and aptitude to direct the fortunes of the company alone, and he steered the ship with a sure hand through the severe economic crisis and then through the even greater difficulties of the Second World War. Because when the war in 1944 came to its inevitable bad end, it happened. On the night of July 24th to 25th, when almost all of Stuttgart was in flames, the fire also struck the Renner factory. All the buildings were on fire, there was no water, nothing could be saved, everything seemed destroyed and lost.
"What now?" Asked the loyal helpers that terrible night. "Rebuild!" answered Wilhelm Megenhardt. Nothing else! And immediately he began the almost insurmountable work of reconstruction in the struggle against a wall of obstacles. Loyal, old people who had grown into the company supported him in this huge work. Still, it almost didn't seem to make it, as only about 15 percent of the facilities remained in reasonably usable condition. But nothing could paralyze his iron will and his immense energy. He had roller shutter slats manufactured in makeshift workshops in order to obtain the funds for the clearing up work and the first reconstruction.
Then the first thing that came up again was fixture construction, in which most of the machines required for mechanical manufacture have to be built because they are nowhere to be obtained.
Louis Renner factory ruins
Then the first thing that came up again was fixture construction, in which most of the machines required for mechanical manufacture have to be built because they are nowhere to be obtained. At least the outer walls of the central building from 1902 were still preserved. It was the next to be rebuilt and equipped. The German economic miracle also came true in the Renner works: despite destruction, despite endless obstacles that had to be overcome in the most difficult detail, a company emerged from nothing.
And already in 1948, after three and a half years, the first mechanics were able to leave the company again. The boss and employees agreed that, according to the call of the house, no "war goods" could be delivered, but the best quality of peace. Although for the time being it was only possible to send orders to Germany itself, foreign countries soon came forward with orders again; it relied on the good "Renner" products known from peacetime. It was all the more important to only start deliveries when you were able to let the mechanics and hammer heads go out in the well-known quality. The name "Renner" was not to be jeopardized: it was as much an obligation as it was a guarantee. At home and abroad one could rely on this name as ever, and so it was by no means surprising that the workforce and facilities in had to grow at a rapid pace in order to meet all demands.Once again, the production rooms were much too cramped and, in the necessary expansion, pushed the office space together into the smallest possible space.
In the constant distress of overemployment and the necessary expansion, it was a stroke of luck that in 1951 the grandson of the founder and son of Oscar Renner, who died early, was Dr. Manfred Renner, was able to join the company. He had completed his studies and relevant practical training and now took over the technical management of the company as a further managing partner in the summer of 1952. With youthful enthusiasm, he took the reins in hand and had the rest of the reconstruction carried out up to the original expansion, so that the main building in Fritz-Reuter-Strasse could be moved into again in autumn 1955, when the construction work was completed.
Another helper and employee will be added to the management of the Renner works with Wolf-Fritz Oettler, the grandson of Wilhelm Megenhardt. He is still preparing for one in his own company completed apprenticeship, after long work in friendly German houses of the same subject, after an extended stay in North and South America before supporting his grandfather and becoming his successor; soon he will be able to take up his position in the Renner house.
In the fall of 1957, the workforce has grown to more than 400 people, and it is still necessary to exert all efforts to meet the constantly increasing demand. Grand piano mechanisms, piano mechanisms in various designs for instruments from 80 to 138 cm in height and hammer heads are equally popular, both in Germany and all over the world. Even skilled workers have to be trained on an ongoing basis, because their training is very special and trained employees are not available. The quality of the Renner mechanics - with all the use of mechanical equipment to replace human forces - is mainly due to the manual work of proven masters and assistants.
The small workshop from 1882 has grown into a global company within 75 years. The guiding principle of delivering Renner mechanics to customers all over the world in the best possible quality is the promotional moment that has created friends for the company everywhere, who will remain true to it, just as it will remain true to its principle: its mechanics always follow to complete the latest practical and musicological knowledge and to improve the quality whenever possible. The beginnings were modest, the view wide, the ingenuity great and the ambitions of the founder and his descendants bold, the unparalleled and comprehensive global success of the company.
Excerpt from the commemorative publication on the 100th anniversary of the company:
In 1960, at the old age of 85, Wilhelm Megenhardt handed over the commercial management of the company to his grandson, Wolf-Fritz Oettler. He had prepared for this activity by completing an apprenticeship, working for a long time in befriended houses in the piano industry and through extensive stays in North and South America.
The demand for Renner mechanics continued to grow. However, there were no expansion options on the existing premises. In October 1960, a former cigar factory was purchased in Östringen (Kraichgau) and a small branch was set up for assembly work. Part of the hammer head production was also prefabricated by the 50 employees of the Östring branch.
Wilhelm Megenhardt died on June 14, 1965 at the age of 90. Until his death he took an active part in the development of the Renner house.
After 20 years of service, Wolf-Fritz Oettler left on March 31. 1969 while retaining his share in the business to devote himself to new tasks overseas.
With Rolf W. Zehender, who had already been employed at Renner since July 1962, on April 1, 1969, a non-shareholder became managing director and successor to Wolf-Fritz Oettler for the first time.
The next few years saw the reconstruction of the house Forststraße 191 with 10 apartments and social rooms for the workforce.
After a serious illness, the 59-year-old Dr. Manfred Renner, so that there was again a gap in the top management.
On January 1, 1977, Rudolf Genger, also a non-shareholder, was appointed technical director.
Not only did the production figures for mechanics and hammer heads increase, but there was also an increasing need for carefully executed repairs and a reliable supply of spare parts and accessories. The existing components department was expanded, a spacious warehouse was set up and a catalog that was admired by experts was published. Today this department is an essential element of the Renner company.
The development of a mechanism for low pianos and the increasing interest from abroad in Renner quality brought a further upswing. New production rooms for an expansion were found in Odenheim, near the already existing branch in Östringen. On 1.7. In 1974 a disused weaving mill was bought and on October 24th. In 1974 a neighboring sawmill could be acquired along with some individual plots, so that today an area of over 2 hectares is available. After extensive planning and renovation work, the entire raw wood processing, hammer head gluing and other pre-assembly work was relocated to the new plant in the late summer of 1975. The small branch in Östringen was closed and the staff was taken over to Odenheim.
The main task was the training of additional staff in order to be able to continue selling mechanics in the proven Renner quality. Today, in the anniversary year, Renner employs around 500 people and has meanwhile produced almost 2 million machine heads and hammer head sets.