Felix Hepp is not only the great-great grandson of the inventor of “hotel silverware”, Karl Hepp, and therefore a real #heppstar, he is also Manager of Sales HEPP Germany. His mission: to make every laid table shine. For him, tradition means preserving old values. This is why he especially likes to combine tradition with a modern touch.
How old were you when you first began to notice HEPP products?
I must have been 7 or 8 years old. I was at primary school and we had to talk about our family history. For me, it was the Hepp silverware factory of course.
What is your emotional association with the HEPP brand?
I associate it with a family business even though this has not been the case for many years. When I look at the portrait of the founders Karl and Otto, I see my grandfather and great uncle. This is always a wonderful experience.
What are your early childhood memories?
At every family celebration, the table was always festively laid. Silverplated Hepp items such as tea/coffee pots, vegetable bowls, sauce boats and old, heavy Alpacca cutlery always had their spot on the table.
You come from a family steeped in tradition. Is this a burden or a pleasure?
A pleasure! I’m delighted to see how successful the Hepp brand has been for more than 150 years.
How old was your great great grandfather at the time?
My great great grandfather Karl founded the “Gebr. Hepp” silverware factory together with his younger brother Otto in 1863. Karl was 24 at the time, his younger brother Otto was just 20. They worked at the company for more than 50 years before selling it in 1914.
When did you first visit the HEPP factory?
It was in autumn 2015 in Birkenfeld.
Can you tell us a couple of anecdotes about the Hepp brand and your family?
According to our books and stories, the Hepp brand has been around since 1862. We don’t know at what point the year 1863 crept in, but we find it really amusing. A very common Hepp obsession is examining the cutlery at a restaurant. If the cutlery is from Hepp, naturally the food immediately tastes much better.
What was Karl like? Can you tell us a little about him?
After leaving school, Karl learned goldsmithing at Dittler & Co. in Pforzheim. He then went on to continue his training in Paris, London, Hamburg, Berlin and Vienna with his uncle Robert Dittler. Karl, who suffered from increasing hearing loss as he grew older as a result of a serious illness when he was young, was the technical manager in the factory, where he worked from morning till night until a ripe old age. He was extremely conscientious and hardworking, made no personal demands, was a big nature lover and enjoyed hiking. He led a withdrawn life and dedicated himself entirely to his family and his business. He still experienced the First World War and subsequent inflation with loss of his fortune and the collapse of his homeland. Until his death, Karl lived at the villa he built in 1890 on Erbprinzenstraße, Pforzheim which was later destroyed during an air raid in February 1945. His wife Emma was the granddaughter of Ferdinand Oechsle from Pforzheim, the renowned inventor of the Oechsle Scale.
Mr Hepp, how long have you had a professional interest in the HEPP brand and why?
I’ve had a professional interest in the HEPP brand since autumn 2015. We were invited on a tour of the factory where I was able to find out more about the company. The very same day I wrote my application. I joined Hepp in March 2016.
What differences and similarities do you see between the brand today and back then?
To answer this question, I’d like to invite you to our showroom in Birkenfeld. The greatest difference is probably in the product design. We still have one or two traditional products in our range, however these are few and far between. Hepp was and continues to be one of the top brands for the sophisticated catering and hotel industry and this is also how we are perceived on the outside!
What does tradition mean to you personally and where does it stand in relation to the future and modernity?
Our new brand image “Hepp - The Art of Service” sums it up. For me, tradition means preserving old values, which clearly includes the typical Hepp design and quality of the products. On the other hand, times are changing and customers are less and less willing to spend a lot of money on cutlery and hollow-ware. I believe that traditional and modern elements can be combined really well. For example, new techniques such as PVD coating and stonewashing also make it possible to present “long-established” products in a completely new light!
Do you see yourself as a brand ambassador?
Yes of course, this is a fundamental requirement for sales! I believe that every person who works in sales should see themselves as a brand ambassador. This is the only way to credibly communicate the brand externally.
What is your current role at HEPP?
I work in the sales division for Germany. I am responsible for providing support to our retail partners and customers in Southern Germany.
Where do you see the future of the HEPP brand?
The Hepp brand has flourished under its new owner. Hepp is now a Groupe SEB brand. Groupe SEB has set itself ambitious goals for our hotel business. I am excited to see what the future will bring!
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