Evoluting from wooden toys to furniture to yacht-building
With courage, passion and perseverance, the German Kiebitzberg Group has become a renowned PonTOM platform specialist
“Clear aims, clear decks” is the principle according to which Andreas and Renate Lewerken, founders and managing directors of the “Kiebitzberg Group” in Havelberg, are on course for success with their company. Since its founding 33 years ago, they have constantly expanded their company so that it is now among the biggest companies in the north of the German state Saxony-Anhalt.
From wooden toys to furniture giant
Everything started off very small. In 1982, the young master carpenter Andreas Lewerken opened a workshop for wooden toys at a farm called the “Kiebitzberg”. The imaginative toys with the lapwing logo were very popular, but interest in wooden toys waned after 1990, and the Lewerkens decided to move into cabinetry. The little workshop became an impressive and even internationally acknowledged flagship company. Only the company’s logo, the lapwing, is a reminder of its beginnings.
The group is now active in four industry sectors with its approximately 100 employees: In the “Kiebitzberg furniture workshops”, furnishing ideas are realised entirely from one source in practical and affordable furniture building projects. The range of products reaches from ship interiors, shopfitting and fair stand construction, to furnishings for hotels and medical practices. Anyone looking for an alternative to wood and natural stone, can turn to “Kiebitzberg Mineralwerkstoffe”, which manufactures high-quality, innovative products made of mineral materials such as washstands, bathtubs, kitchen worktops and counters for bathrooms and kitchens in private housing, as well as for interior furnishings of doctors’ surgeries and hotels
Boatyard & yacht-building
The core of the company, however, is the “Kiebitzberg Boatyard”. “In a ship, everything comes together. All the crafts meet here, fine materials and perfect shapes, steel and aluminium construction, electrics, motors, sanitation; interior construction and mineral processing”, says Andreas Lewerken. The company’s specialities are the PonTOM platforms made from aluminium. The Kiebitzberg houseboats, fishing, leisure, and rescue boats are built on these platforms and are therefore not only light, but also very sturdy and resistant to seawater and corrosion. Furthermore, this type of construction offers a maximum of possibilities for variations, so that the boats can be equipped exactly in accordance with the customers’ wishes. The boatyard’s range of products is being expanded with, among other things, jetties and floating structures.
Since the takeover of the boatyard, with which the Family Lewerken are continuing Havelberg’s 300-year history of boat-building, their company has built 262 floating installations, calculates Andreas Lewerken. In 2006, the “Positano” became the first sea-going passenger ship in its construction class and built in Germany according to the new EU-directive to be launched. One of the “highest peaks of craftsmanship”, however, is yacht-building: “Building a yacht is a special task, a challenge. Each trade has to provide absolute top quality for this”. This is only possible with a capable team like the one he has, says Lewerken. The latest project: boats with solar technology.
New line of business: ArtHotel
The Lewerkens entered a completely new area of activity in 2007. They bought a plot of land in Havelberg with a hotel that needed renovating and four years later opened the “ArtHotel Kiebitzberg”. Just one year later, with the opening of the main building, complete with restaurant, large concert room, conservatory, sun terrace, bar and ArtGalerie, an impressive ensemble was created, with 31 rooms and suites equipped with Kiebitzberg furniture, versatile event rooms and sophisticated cuisine.
All four areas of activity complement each other. For example, the furniture and washstands from the cabinet-makers and the “Kiebitzberg Mineralwerkstoffe” are used in the interior fittings of the boats and in the hotel, but at the same time also act as a kind of display of work. And hotel guests who want to go on an excursion can charter a boat - from the hotel’s own shipyard of course. In 2016, the company opened its branch in Leipzig and started cooperation with distribution partners in Hamburg. And in addition to all these entrepreneurial activities, the Lewerkens are also involved in cultural and social projects in Havelberg, which underline their connectedness with the region.
Long list of references
The list of references is long and includes such prominent names as the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin, for which the “Kiebitzberg Group” produced the panelling of the display cabinets. And the Lewerkens cannot complain that they do not get enough recognition for their work either. Among other things, in 1999 they received the “Award for Medium-sized Enterprises”, which was at that time still called the “Oscar for Medium-sized Enterprises”, in 2010, which honoured the Kiebitzberg Group as “Company of the Year” in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. In 2011, the group also received the title “Company of the Month February 2011” from the Ministry for Economic Affairs. And in 2013, the Lewerkens received the distinction “Stars for Saxony-Anhalt” – with the “star” as a symbol for a shining example of the EU Structural Funds campaigns 2013/2014.
Is there a secret to this success? “No, there is no secret. I have always implemented what I have imagined in my head as the right path for me, with ambition and great passion for the details. From the start, we were intent on creating something beautiful with timeless, enduring values,” says Andreas Lewerken. With his son Florian as junior boss and his wife Renate as the hotel boss, he also has strong partners in the family. He makes the following recommendation for young company-founders: “Entrepreneurship requires passion and perseverance. Constantly checking and further developing your ideas, coping with setbacks, involving reliable partners. And also: taking pleasure in what you do.”
Author: Beate Hagen