Company history of pod GmbH

Company building of pod GmbH in Brunswick
Company building of pod GmbH

In 1907, Michehls Atelier was established as an arts-and-crafts atelier. Soon we became experts for advertisting facade paintings and outdoor advertisements at cinema facades for new films and later for vehicle graphics. At first using brush and paint and subsequently screen printing, Michehls Atelier was the first screen-printing plant in Germany.

In the 1960s, offset printing became part of the production and the first displays were developed. In the 1970s, Michehls Atelier invested in the large format for the printing press and the processing plants. Ever since then, development and production of displays has become the company's main focus. By the end of 2004, Lutz Bethmann, Jürgen Köhler and Michael Jung absorbed the company. In spring 2005, a new large size, 6B offset printing press and an own pre-press were bought to enable a fast, flexible and high-quality production.

In late 2012, Jürgen Köhler retired from the company and Roland Ulbrich became managing partner among Lutz Bethmann and Michael Jung.

By the end of September 2014, Michehls Atelier changed its name to pod GmbH - point of display & offset.

Please find below some extracts of our company history which have been recorded in our company chronicle on the occasion of our 100th anniversary celebration.

From 1907 to 1945

How it all started…

Heinrich Michehl (* 1874, † 1936)
Heinrich Michehl (* 1874, † 1936)

In 1907, Heinrich Michehl established 'Michehls Kundstgewerbliches Atelier' as Brunswick's oldest advertising material company, located in Humboldtstraße 3.

Referring to a letterhead from 1926, from then on the company also offered stage paintings and settings among advertising paintings. Designing stage sets for Brunswick's operetta ceatre over a longer period, the atelier achieved a good reputation in manufacturing cinema posters in Brunswick and surroundings.

In those days, Brunswick's three existing Ufa-theatres were provided with new outdoor advertisings every week, informing about the latest, popular movies. The product range of the company had already been versatile, including partly moving shop window advertisements, pediments advertisings, festival floats for parades, promotion stands for exhibitions, glassware banners and much more in the advertising area.

On 1 February 1936, Hermann Michehl, a nephew of the founder, and Heinrich Bethmann, the first employee of the company, purchased the advertising atelier for 15,000 Reichsmark, payable in weekly rates of 31 Reichsmarks.

The production plant was then located in Nordstraße 7. Cinema advertisements were painted on wooden frames with linen covering and afterwards carried to the cinemas by wooden hand carts. There they were hung and decorated as required. In 1938, small runs of the first displays were manufactured.

By earning the screen-printing licence, Michehls Atelier was the first screen-printing plant in Germany.

From 1946 to 1959

Post-war period…

Eschenburgstraße in 1953
Eschenburgstraße in 1953

During post-war years the production of advertising materials continued even under the hardest conditions. Since Hermann Michehl only returned from captivity in 1951, Heinrich Bethmann had to run the business on his own between 1946 and 1950. As of about 1950 life returned to normal, thereby enabling the further development of the company.

In the 1950s, the most challenging problem was to find a new production site. Within 14 years, the company produced at five different sites in Brunswick, e.g. from 1950 to 1957 in Eschenburgstraße and Celler Straße.

Gloria-theatre with cinema advertisement and wall design in the 1950s
Gloria-theatre with cinema advertisement and wall design in the 1950s

In this decade, the labelling of external facades, company cars and vehicles of 'Braunschweiger Verkehrs AG' were the company's main revenue stream among cinema advertisements. By the end of the 1950s, large quantities of signs were manufactured via screen printing. At home and under the most primitive conditions, the screens were prepared for printing.

In 1953, the German Federation for Screen Printers was established in the city of Hanover, assisted by the experts Michehl and Bethmann from Brunswick.

In 1957 and at the time of the 50st anniversary, there were two production sites in Sackweg/Mittelweg and Celler Straße.

After a fire in 1958, Michels Atelier moved to the former cable car depot in Eisenbütteler Straße. Laying the foundation for offset printing, the first offset printing press Rotaprint R 30 was set up in 1959 (DIN A3 format, 1 inking unit and maximum speed of 4,000 sheets per hour).

From 1960 to 1978

Development

Production site in Weinbergweg 36
Production site in Weinbergweg 36

On 1 January 1960, the company moved into the newly built plant in Weinbergstraße 36. The new building could be found inside a domain of approx. 2,312 sqm and encompassed approx. 900 sqm of office and production area.

In 1967, the production site in Weinbergweg became too small. By buying an additional plant in Bienrode, the two sites needed to share their tasks.

Christa and Lutz Bethmann sen.
Christa and Lutz Bethmann sen.

The staff from Weinbergweg was responsible for lithography as well as screen and offset printing, whereas in Bienrode the workers manufactured, processed and dispatched displays.

In 1974, Peter Michehl, being active in the company since 1961, took over the management from his father.

Lutz Bethmann sen. joined Michehls Atelier in 1948 and took over the management from his father in 1968.

From 1979 to 2003

New opportunities

In 1979, the company moved into the new production site in Heesfeld 2 in Veltenhof. On an estate of 6,500 sqm, a plant of 3,200 sqm was built. Production at two different plants had proved impractical.

Michehls Atelier's company building in Veltenhof.
Michehls Atelier's company building in Veltenhof.

Relocating the plant, new technology moved in as well. Michehls Atelier bought three 5B, 2-coloured printing presses Roland Ultra (size 89x126 cm) and the first fasson-gluers. The old Prakma laminating press was replaced by the first Stock laminating press and, additionally, the first WUPA die-cutter was installed.

In the 1980s, following displays walls ('MIDIWAs'), being a perfectly suitable advertisting media for commercial vehicles, were produced for VW, Renault and Ford, amongst others.

Michehls Atelier's display exhibition
Michehls Atelier's display exhibition

To introduce the new model 'Escort' to various european countries, Ford commissoned Michehls Atelier with its biggest order so far. The company should design a suitable display wall and dispatch it throughout europe.

Lothar Wenzig (authorized representative), Peter Michehl and Lutz Bethmann jun.
Lothar Wenzig (authorized representative), Peter Michehl and Lutz Bethmann jun.

When Lutz Bethmann sen. retired from the company in 1991, Peter Michehl assumed responsibilty as sole executive manager. The photo was taken in 1995 and shows from left to right Lothar Wenzig (authorized representative), Peter Michehl and Lutz Bethmann jun. who joined the company in 1987.

In 1994, another techinical upheavel occurred by buying the Roland 800 with 4 inking units. Investing heavily in screen printing, a new Printmaster fully autmatic machine, a biofilter system and a wastewater treatment plant was installed. The last two investments were requirements to receive the environmental audit. In this context a company environmental statement was published.

From 1979 to 2003

Laminating machine
Laminating machine

On 20 June 1997, the 90th company anniversary was celebrated in a big marquee. Among the guests were the at that time Interior Minister of Lower Saxony Gerhard Glogowski and the chief representative of Nord/LB Dietrich Fürst. Two music groups provided entertainment.

Every year, Michehls Atelier awarded the Michehl sponsorship prize for outstanding theses in the range of the Institute of Economic Sciences at the Technical University of Brunswick.

In 2000, 80,000 deco packages were produced within 8 weeks and sent worldwide for the launch of a Sony mobile phone. The volume of the consignment comprised 35 entire truckloads.

By investing in a fully automated laminating machine with a maximum speed of 3,000 sheets per hour, larger display and packaging orders could be manufactured fast and cost-effective from Novembre 2003.

From 2004

New beginning…

In November 2004, Lutz Bethmann, Michael Jung and Jürgen Köhler absorbed the company. Their first job was to order a new offset printing press from the company KBA. After being delivered in seven truckloads and installed within five weeks, the KBA Rapida 142 with five inking units plus one coating unit and a weight of 130 tons was solemnly put into service in May 2005. By this Michehls Atelier owned the largest sheet-offset printing press in Brunswick. Afterwards the technical efficiency of Michehls Atelier was promoted in Brunswick, Salzgitter, Wolfsburg and Hanover by using large-scale posters.

New dimensions…

In 2006, a new 7B die-cutting platen press and a fasson-gluer with an infeed width of 2 m were purchased. Furthermore a conveyor belt and a baler was installed to improve the disposal of stamping waste at the WUPA.

New job structures required technical adaptions. From data input, a faster order flow was necessary. From February 2005, the company CtP Dienstleistungen enabled to edit data and expose plates at own premises again.

The latest advertising measures were the relaunch of the website, a new display catalogue from Michehls Atelier and reports as well as advertisements in various journals. In addition, tarps of three trucks of the forwarding agent Wandt were provided with advertisements from Michehls Atelier.

Trucks of the forwarding agent Wandt
Trucks of the forwarding agent Wandt