Jacobus Ahrend (1876-1956) first worked as a factory store hand and later in a bookstore, with many navy clients. In 1894 he started in the nautical bookstore Stemler. In 1895 the family moved from Den Helder, the Netherlands' prime naval base, to Haarlemmerweg in Amsterdam. With his brother Dirk, he set up a company, Widow J. Ahrend & son, trading in drawing and painting equipment. The widow in the title was his mother. She was necessary as the brothers were minors.
When Dirk left, settling in South Africa, Jacobus became responsible for the company. In 1897, he became agent for Richter compass boxes. He also sold Schäuffele drawing tables, Nestler slide rules and blueprints. These renowned brands gave him the means to move the company to an attic on Prins Hendrikkade in Amsterdam. In the following years, Jacobus added a technical bookstore and a factory of technical papers, as well as an overseas department focused on the colonies. His products came to include nautical instruments and even a 'typewriter' from the Odell brand. In 1904, the reproduction "division" obtained the largest blueprint making machine here in the Netherlands. In 1906 an electric lithography printer was added. In 1909 the company moved to a building on Singel. A publishing company was added in 1910. From 1913, Jacobus added branches outside Amsterdam. In 1921, Ahrend concentrated his printing activities in a large print shop in Hilversum.
In 1926, Ahrend started selling office furniture. Once again, the company obtained top products. This turn of events was timed well, as the office world was changing quickly as a consequence of the introduction of electricity and later central heating, while steel furniture was replacing wood. Ahrend became a client of Oda and a competitor of Gispen. It competed on style through stylish Dutch steel furniture maker De Cirkel. Ahrend became more and more financially involved in Oda and De Cirkel.
Office equipment was not neglected, though. Ahrend introduced an early copier and a stencil machine in the thirties. That was just as well, as steel was no longer available for civilian purposes in the second world war. The company's behaviour was characterised as opportunistic and often spineless, without being collaborative. Ahrend's trade with the Dutch colonies was halted and its Rotterdam branch bombed in 1940. Even after the second world war, Ahrend had problems securing production materials, as demand far outstripped capacity. Ahrend caught up relatively quickly by buying companies in adjacent fields, like laboratory furniture.
When Jacobus died, Ahrend went through an often unseemly fight to acquire De cirkel and Oda, a fight it won eventually. However, from the 1970s, profits reduced steadily and turned into losses. The company was re-organised and turned around to the point where it became a holding company with its own production plants, concentrating on office furniture and office supplies. In 2005, the office supplies division was sold to French office supply company Lyreco. The company, presently called Koninklijk Ahrend NV, is headquartered in Sint-Oederode.
In 1905, Harry van de Kamp started a smithy in Sint-Oedenrode. The name of the place is derived from saint Oda, inspiring the smith to call his business Oda. Harry provided the horses of the locally stationed regiment of hussars with horseshoes, traded in horses and in horse manure. His business flourished. He could afford new-fangled machinery. This allowed him to expand his business into making high quality plate steel professional hot air ovens and industrial iron and steel products, from fences to lighting and electricity pylons.
From 1929, the Great Crisis threatened Harry's business with insolvency. In these desperate times, Harry switched to office furniture. It turned out to be a great success, as Harry's experience with steel working translated into high quality steel products. Harry stepped down in 1931. His successors, in particular his eldest son, showed wishy-washy behaviour in the second world war, giving the company a bad local reputation. After Harry's death in 1946, tensions between his sons and Ahrend rose. Only after Jacobus Ahrend's death was it possible to find a solution, resulting in Oda's acquisition by Ahrend. The company's facilities, albeit expanded and modernised, are still used for producing steel office furniture.
|Side 1||- ODA and STALENMEUBELENFABRIEKEN|
|Side 2||- ODA and STALENMEUBELENFABRIEKEN|