For over 60 years, the Lemgo plant has focused on excellent products with outstanding design. Luminaire manufacture has a longstanding tradition in Lemgo. It was here in 1945 that Alfred Staff and Otto Schwarz set up a three-man operation offering amongst others consumer goods in wood and metal as well as pesticide for controlling the Colorado potato beetle. Within a year, 15 skilled workers were producing the first wrought iron luminaires. Over the next three decades, Staff was to develop into a leader in design excellence, receiving over 200 awards for its achievements.
This success also attracted the attention of Austrian competitor Zumtobel. As early as the mid-1970s, Jürg Zumtobel, then CEO of Zumtobel AG, first discussed cooperation with Alfred Staff. Jürg Zumtobel explains his interest as follows: “Staff came from the home lighting sector. This orientation was particularly important for the applications hotel, art and architecture, where design takes priority over a purely industrial focus.” However, it was not until 1994, almost 20 years later, that Staff was taken over and became a fully integrated member of the Zumtobel Group. Jürg Zumtobel looks back on the process: “Under the terms of the acquisition we were required to retain the brand name for ten years, giving rise to the brand Zumtobel Staff.” The name “Staff” was finally dropped from the brand designation in 2006.
The acquisition not only enabled Zumtobel to expand its European sales network but also added spotlights and architectural luminaires to its portfolio. “At the time of the acquisition we had been working on a new range of spotlights. The know-how contributed by Staff as specialists in directional light proved to be a huge benefit,” says Jürg Zumtobel.
Today, Lemgo is the Zumtobel brand’s second largest plant. It employs over 500 people in the development and manufacture of spotlights and lighting systems as well as innovative solutions for façade illumination. Since the year 2000, the sales headquarters for Zumtobel Germany has also been based in Lemgo and now has a staff of some 200 employees.
Zumtobel is using over 250 square metres of floor space at the Lemgo Light Forum to showcase milestones in the plant’s history. Visitors are taken on a time journey through technology and lighting design which encompasses around 70 luminaires from six decades. The oldest model is an 18-lamp chandelier made of brass with a hand-polished crystal ball dating from 1950. This is contrasted by the latest product – the LED downlight series Panos Infinity with variable white light. Room-high displays provide written details of the individual highlights. In addition, visitors can look forward to display tables with hands-on exhibits; these include standard and custom luminaires, catalogues and sample cases.
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