LT anniversary blog
Hans Lehmann: straightforward man of action and passionate inventor
Born on 1 April 1918, Hans Lehmann was the third child of Christian Lehmann and Verena Lehmann-Wüthrich. His father died early on, leaving his mother alone to raise Hans and his three brothers in the village of Trub. With money being scarce, only the eldest brother was able to do an apprenticeship, which at that time you had to pay for. Hans was very skilled and thought of becoming a mechanic, but he did not have the financial means to make an apprenticeship a reality. For this reason, he was quite happy to be called for active duty during the Second World War. Hans enjoyed the regimented life in the military: for once, he did not have to worry about what tomorrow would bring. By 1944, the Second World War was almost over, bringing his active duty to an end. The 26-year-old Hans began crafting plans for the future. He opened a workshop in the basement of the carpenter’s house in Trub, where he worked together with his younger brother Ernst. The two men were very different: Hans was the passionate entrepreneur always striving ahead, while Ernst was a reserved man with a more conservative approach. However, the two were able to work together, giving rise to Gebrüder Hans & Ernst Lehmann – our company name until 1980.
The dream of flying
Hans was not only an innovator but also a passionate aviator. He was a member of the glider pilots’ group in Burgdorf. His interest in flying prompted him to build a hang glider, which he flew with in his scarce free time. However, he ended up selling the aerial vehicle to Burgdorf. Hans reconfigured a bike trailer in order to transport the 19-kilogram hang glider safely to its new home.
A small mechanic’s workshop with impressive sales
Soon business was booming in the small basement in Trub. Hans became a representative for Bucher-Guyer, selling and repairing agricultural machinery. The bestseller in 1945 was the motorized mower. In this year, Lehmann achieved CHF 8,539.00 in turnover – a sum that sparked jealousy, leading to attempts to ruin his reputation in the Swiss Agricultural Machinery Association. This written request from Bucher-Guyer, dated 27 December 1945, shows the nature of the campaign against him: “We are primarily interested in whether you have completed an apprenticeship as a locksmith, mechanic or blacksmith, or if you have any kind of work experience in a mechanic’s workshop.” A self-taught man, Hans triumphed over his adversaries, as seen in his impressive sales figures from 1946: in this year, he made around CHF 32,000.00 in turnover as a representative of Bucher-Guyer. By this time, he was probably earning more than the carpenter who was renting him his basement workshop.
Marriage and establishment of his own workshop
Hans was not able to repair vehicles in his basement workspace, so in 1948, he built a house with a workshop and living space for himself and his brother Ernst. The ground floor was dedicated to the business, while the two families lived upstairs. The chalet was located where LT still has its headquarters today: at Dorfstrasse 1 in Trub. Two years before, Hans had met his Italian wife. Through the basement window of his workshop, he spotted the 20-year-old Antida Lusiani doing farm work and was ready to take action when the hay rake broke down. He repaired the rake, married Antida and had four children with her: three sons and one daughter.
With increasing success, jealousy once again rears its head
While still active in the agricultural machinery trade, Hans was also building a business relationship with Jakob, a hemp and wire rope factory. At first, he was responsible for solving issues with complex measurements involved in the completely new manufacturing process for wire rope. He became the external inventor for Jakob and also maintained the manufacturing equipment. With his growing success, he wanted to get more involved in the community, so he founded a trade association in Trub – and immediately resigned upon learning from the Jakobs that jealousy had once again reared its ugly head. The Jakobs had been told to be careful in doing business with the Lehmanns as neither of them possessed formal training.
A tireless inventor
Hans was active in forestry from the beginning on. He was the first in the region to sell chainsaws. In 1967, he launched steel pulleys that he had developed and produced himself. He also invented the lightweight and compact Lehmann wire rope hoist, selling 2,000 pieces.
Hans and his brother Ernst had made a good living for themselves with their company. In 1978, at the age of 64, Hans transferred his shares in the company to his son Bruno. Two years later, Ernst gave his shares to his nephew.
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