The youngest of four siblings, Gerhard Hänel was born in Lauter, Saxony, on June 30th, 1909. His parents owned a grocery store and the familyprospered. When he was 13 his father died and his mother had to bring up the 4 children alone. Even so, they never had to go without. At the age of 14 he became a locksmith‘s apprentice, at 20 he finished his engineering studies, and soon he found a job at a well-known company in Hessen producing steel furniture.

In 1933 when he was 24 years old he became self-employed, setting up business on his parents‘ property with borrowed money. At first it was a one-man operation, until he got together the facilities for building steel furniture by renovating used machinery and building his own paintshop, drying furnace and power generator. However, he was not given approval to operate a spot-welding machine from the mains power network.
 Gerhard Hänel‘s first production hall in Schwarzenberg-Neuwelt
‘That was the first punch below the belt I received from the authorities.’
Quotation from G. Hänel
In 1936 Gerhard Hänel married his first wife Hilde, but she was unfortunately killed in an accident in 1949. This marriage produced his daughter Ingrid and son Gerd.
In the neighboring town of Neuwelt he found a large plot of land, this time with a power current connection, on Talstraße close to the railway.

He moved into the new building in 1939. With the start of the war, steel was rationed and he also had to look around for new customers.

He developed and produced metal containers for the safe transport of highly sensitive optical devices for the company of Zeiss-Jena and its subsidiary plants.
‘With the lack of sheet steel, there was only one slogan: Make new out of old.’
Quotation from G. Hänel
An economy of scarcity prevailed in Germany in the post-war years, so he attached a follow-on tool to a long bending press, used it to slit open empty bomb casings and recrafted them into sheet metal blanks.

The parts were then annealed and formed into new utility objects. Frying pans were extremely popular, as were other items such as clips for preserving jars.
 Graduation certificates (grade: Excellent) from the Zwickau Engineering School in 1929
© Hänel GmbH & Co. KG Innovative ideas. Sound technology. Flexible systems.