It was a good time for creative minds when Heinrich Ad. Berkemann came to Hamburg in 1880: Here, as everywhere in Germany, many new businesses were created during the Wilhelminian era. As a journeyman shoemaker, he had learned the skills and secrets of his trade from various masters - and on July 8, 1885, he registered his own business in the Hanseatic city's trade office. This is how one of the most successful German company stories begins.

Word quickly spread of his claim to produce shoes that were not just beautiful, but also comfortable and well-fitting. And quality was soon joined by ingenuity: Heinrich Ad. provided the first mass-produced orthopedic insole. Berkemann caused a sensation during the Hamburg shoemaking trade exhibition in 1903. His company was the first footbridge supplier in the world.

The business grew rapidly. The workshop soon became a small business, taking part in exhibitions, receiving prizes for various footbridge models and delivering abroad.

Walter Berkemann was the first apprentice to be trained in his father's company in 1911. Soon afterwards, his younger brother Hans, who had previously completed commercial training, also joined the company. Walter and Hans took over the business after their father's death in 1923 and led the company through the difficult post-war years and the period of the global economic crisis.

Despite all the difficulties, the Berkemann company remained an up-and-coming company and even published its own company newspaper, “Brücke”, from 1932 onwards. They moved into a seven-story office and factory building on Gerhofstrasse, over which the name BERKEMANN was emblazoned from then on. Thanks to the successful combination of technical talent and commercial skills, the company was back on the right track even after the end of the Second World War.

Berkemann became part of the German economic miracle of the 1950s. The original sandal proved to be the first box office hit in the company's history and marked an advance into new dimensions in both economic and shoemaking terms. The original sandal initially generates sales increases of up to fifty percent. The Berkemann sandal is present on countless advertising posters, in hundreds of advertisements and even on television. Swedish princesses and German Olympians, pop stars and other celebrities pose in it.

In addition to the original sandal, the Toeffler is also becoming a classic. With its thick sole made of light poplar wood, it has ensured an optimal foot climate since 1964.

As early as 1970, employees were pleased to have sold 25 million pairs of Berkemann sandals. It was the year in which the company set up a factory outside of Hamburg for the first time in Steinalben in the Palatinate. Due to the success of Originalsandale and Toeffler, additional production facilities were soon established, including in Austria and Latin America.

In the 1980s, computer technology found its way into working life and production at Berkemann - and the ultimate heavyweight in Berkemann advertising was developed: the Haribo-Toeffler! The second successful model of this extraordinary advertising cooperation with HARIBO GmbH and Co. KG was just as enjoyable: the 1.5 kg can of Gummibären, or more correctly: the Gummi-Toeffler.

But Berkemann's stated goal remains to maintain customer trust in its proven product, to open up new markets, to offer innovative products and to successfully lead a traditional German brand through the 21st century.

And in the anniversary year of 2010, when Berkemann celebrated its 125th company anniversary with a large customer event and over 600 guests in Hamburg, they continued to prepare for the future. In the summer of that year, Berkemann invested around 1.3 million euros in its own PU sole foaming machine and is thus continuing on the path of consistent insourcing, which should ultimately result in “production from a single source”.

This eventful year was concluded with the takeover of the traditional Tuttlingen shoe manufacturer Solidus, which will strengthen Berkemann's market position in the medium term, strategically and operationally. Both companies will retain their respective brands at their locations and rely on synergy effects, e.g. B. in the area of ​​sole production, the joint purchasing of basic materials and other processes that seem sensible for both brands to be identified and implemented. At the end of 2011, the comfort fashion brand MARC Shoes GmbH, based in Fischbeck, Lower Saxony, was taken over under the same conditions and goals. Since then, people have also referred to the three brands as the Berkemann Group.

Platform for communication Berkemann started the first comfortable shoe symposium in 2012 with the intention of giving the comfortable and comfort shoe industry a platform for communication, exchange and, last but not least, networking.

The content, the presentations and the supporting program of the two-day symposium are aimed at owners, managing directors and decision-makers from the areas of shoe, orthopedic shoe and medical supplies, industry as well as the relevant specialist and general press.

The comfortable shoe symposium is now considered an established industry event and takes place annually at the Bio-Seehotel/Zeulenroda.