100 Years Conrad Naber - Businessman, inventor and patron with passion

Today, July 1st, 2022, our company founder Conrad Naber would have been 100 years old.

Conrad Naber was born in Bremen on July 1, 1922. Today marks his 100th birthday and it is appropriate to pay tribute to the company founder of Nabertherm, the pioneer in furnace construction and the generous patron of Lilienthal and Bremen.

"Conrad Naber was a goal-oriented and ambitious, always very open and open-minded entrepreneur, who always had an ear for his employees," says Timm Grotheer, the current Managing Director of Nabertherm GmbH. Continuity also played a particularly important role for Conrad Naber. This can still be felt in the Nabertherm company today insofar as his son Martin Naber heads the supervisory board and after Conrad Naber himself, then Friedrich-Wilhelm Wentrot and now Timm Grotheer is only the third man to head this company alone in 75 years.

Even in today's turbulent times, it can be considered particularly impressive that in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War in 1947 Conrad Naber took the reins of his actions into his own hands and founded his company in Bremen. In the immediate vicinity there is still all the destruction caused by the Second World War, directly felt misery in everyday life and yet something like a spirit of optimism. In this environment, Conrad Naber received a trade license from the "Senator for Economics, Labor and Ports" in September 1947 and began to manufacture furnaces in his parents' house in Bremen.

His family environment was middle-class and Conrad Naber was an inquisitive and open person. He had started studying technology during the war, then had to be a soldier and, under the given circumstances, completed his studies at the Engineering School in Bremen immediately after the war. It was clear to him: make the best of the situation and get creative yourself!

The first furnace that Conrad Naber manufactured was a preheating furnace for a dental laboratory he was friends with. However, he soon began to manufacture kilns for pottery. Even today, the arts and crafts sector still represents an important part of Nabertherm's business. Nabertherm kilns have been standing for quality and durability for 75 years.

In 1951, Conrad Naber took over the Prien locksmith shop in Bremen-Schwachhausen. In 1954 the company's headquarters were relocated to neighboring Lilienthal/Lower Saxony; the company had 25 employees.

In the 1950s, however, Conrad Naber did not just become an entrepreneur in Lilienthal. It was a matter of course for him to get actively involved in his community and to support many projects. As a native of Bremen, he never gave up maintaining contact with his native city of Bremen. He was a Lilienthal entrepreneur and important sponsor and patron of numerous commitments in Bremen and Lilienthal.

The importance of Conrad Naber goes far beyond that as an entrepreneur: he was involved in the field of education, was a generous donor and "honorary citizen and sponsor of the University of Bremen" and later also a generous supporter of the Jacobs University in Bremen. The founding of the Bremen Industry Club goes back to him, he was involved in Lilienthal for the old train station "Jan Reiners", the open-air stage and many other projects. Conrad Naber donated a house to the Lilienthal community foundation, which is committed to social projects, giving them space to put their important activities in the community into practice.

There were also numerous other engagements that made up his life. In addition to the aforementioned commitment to industry in the “Industrie-Club Bremen e. V.”, he was also involved in the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and was a highly respected member of the Lions Club and of support associations in the vicinity of the University of Bremen. Even during his lifetime, he received the great honor of being awarded the Federal Cross of Merit in 1993. From today's perspective, this is still a great tribute to his equally great work during his lifetime.

Conrad Naber identified this sense of citizenship in a special way and for him it was an expression of important commitment in a civil society of which he was a part.

Conrad Naber also insisted on getting involved as a writer in relation to his thoughts and entrepreneurial activities. He published two books under his own name, which essentially report on his guiding principles and his maxims in entrepreneurship. "Only laziness helps us further", the title of one of his books was also the most important guiding principle for Conrad Naber's actions in the company. What is meant by this is that any unnecessary work must be avoided in order to be able to achieve the greatest benefit with the least effort.

“We must make sure that others are better off! Then the wages come back to us. A company that does not act in the interests of its customers and does not deal with them honestly and decently cannot survive.” Mr. Conrad Naber passed this guiding principle on to his sales department and his technology again and again: “You may only sell a furnace if the purchase is worthwhile for the customer." Already very early, Nabertherm held sales seminars in Lilienthal and invited important customers to these events. "It was important that at least 100 guests came and the proportion of doctors and professors had to be right to keep the level high," reports Mr. Frank Bartels (started at Nabertherm in 1986, since 2005 VP Sales at Nabertherm).

He was happy to pass on his knowledge. Conrad Naber had already started to train commercial and technical professions in his company at an early age. At regular meetings with the trainees, which could also take place on a Saturday, the senior boss insisted on imparting important knowledge to the trainees himself. "As a manufacturer of electrically heated furnaces, Ohm's law is of course important for the design of the heating of our furncaes. Mr. Naber explained to us personally what U = R x I means,” says Birgit Kück (started in 1994, today Head of Marketing in Nabertherm).

"Conrad Naber is still very relevant today," says Timm Grotheer from Nabertherm. To this day, numerous employees who experienced Conrad Naber as boss are still active at Nabertherm. Timm Grotheer is certain that Conrad Naber would be proud of what his successors have done with the company to date. Because there is one point in the company's gene pool that is particularly important: always going further and always improving. Conrad Naber enjoyed entrepreneurial development through new products and new applications for his furnace technology. This is very present at Nabertherm to this day. Helmut Junge (since 1980 in electrical manufacturing at Nabertherm) remembers: “Mr. Naber was always very concerned about order and cleanliness, so one had to drop work one or the other time to straighten the workbench. Order at the workplace leads to a better result with the product. In his own halls, Mr. Naber then also brought the May celebrations to life. It was something very special to celebrate together with all colleagues in Nabertherm's production halls once a year." Even today, the annual company party with a rich buffet and DJ is an integral part of Nabertherm's celebration culture (Covid years unfortunately excluded).

With more than 500 employees, subsidiaries in the most important global markets and an export share of approx. 75 %, industrial furnaces for the advanced materials, thermal process technology, laboratory, dental and Arts & Crafts sectors are now supplied worldwide. Today, Nabertherm is an important key partner for many customers around the world when it comes to the development and use of thermal process solutions. The applications that the high-tech company in the Bremen area implements today range from arts and crafts to foundries to fuel cells and 3D printing.

This year we as company will commemorate the 100th birthday of our founder, who died on January 29, 2018 at the age of 95, in a very sporty way, and will spend a convivial afternoon together on the occasion of the company's "Conrad Naber Cup" soccer tournament . Of course, the physical well-being of our employees and their families is also taken care of. On a larger scale, the company founder will be commemorated again in September. Then, the founding of the company by the then 25-year-old Conrad Naber approaches for the 75th time. It means that company founder and company are always celebrate significant birthdays in the same year.