Sebastian Kneipp meets the Würzburg pharmacist Leonhard Oberhäußer. Based on their mutual conviction to do good using naturopathic methods, they become close partners and good friends. Based on natural plant essences and other pure ingredients, they create the formulations which are also still trend-setting for Kneipp products today.
In 1891, Kneipp places the legacy of his lifelong studies in the hands of his friend and ally Leonhard Oberhäußer by exclusively (that is, worldwide and in perpetuity) transferring to him the rights to develop, produce and market pharmaceutical and cosmetic products as well as dietetic foods "with the name and image of Father Sebastian Kneipp". With this agreement, the two men lay the foundation for the Kneipp plants.
Until 1897, there are additional declarations and contracts to confirm and expand those already in effect. The first product produced in the Engel Apothecary in Würzburg under the Kneipp name are the Kneipp pills for constipation. Teas, plant juices, plant powders, tinctures, oily extracts as well as the so-called "specialties" (ready-made medicinal products) rosemary wine, stomach elixir and Flatuol quickly follow. Leonhard Oberhäußer takes over the distribution of Kneipp products.
After the death of Sebastian Kneipp in 1897, Leonhard Oberhäußer continues to produce natural remedies and personal care products according to Kneipp’s formulas and helps promote the products in other countries.
1919 - 1945
The company now has the name of Kneipp-Mittel-Zentrale. In the second generation, Leonhard Oberhäußer’s son, Hermann Oberhäußer, assumes executive management. Kneipp-Mittel-Zentrale flourishes and moves into its own premises at Ludwigstraße 9 in Würzburg, opposite the City Theater. The company also begins providing products to pharmacies starting in 1920.
After the night of bombing in March 1945 shortly before the end of the Second World War during which Würzburg was almost completely destroyed, the company is temporarily housed at the site of the Würzburg vinegar factory.
The Kneipp plants split from the Engel Apothecary and become an independent company. Luitpold Leusser, the nephew of Hermann Oberhäußer, and his fiancée Mareille Bene, who later becomes his wife, assume executive management of the Kneipp plants.
Later a general partnership is founded with Hermann Oberhäußer and Luitpold Leusser as equal partners. Erika Oberhäußer, the daughter of Hermann Oberhäußer, succeeds her father in 1951 but later withdraws from actively managing the company.
1951 – 1979
In the third generation, the pharmacist Senator Luitpold Leusser manages the company which now operates under the name of Kneipp-Heilmittel-Werk. In 1958, the company moves to Steinbachtal 43 in Würzburg which was formerly a restaurant popular as a daytrip destination; the company headquarters were located here until 2013. Also in 1958, a house is purchased in Bad Wörishofen and an information center for the public is set up: the “Wörisana House.” Starting in 1960, the pharmacist Leusser organizes annual symposiums in Bad Wörishofen for physicians and pharmacists on the subject of “Kneipp therapy.”
Business started to boom in the 1970s: The distribution channels are expanded to include drugstores and retail food stores. Sales double annually and increase from approx. DM 4 million to more than DM 50 million per year. During this time, there was new construction of the plant in Würzburg-Heidingsfeld and the founding of a subsidiary in the Netherlands.
Starting in 1979, production takes place at the Würzburg-Heidingsfeld site. Bath oils, bath salts and plant juices are produced there. In Steinbachtal 43, a small bath department is equipped with bathtubs for testing new formulas. This is later upgraded to form the Kneipp Health Center where massages, fango mud treatments and Kneipp applications are carried out by specialized medical staff. In the late 1980s, a sauna and Turkish steam bath are added.
In 1980, Luitpold Leusser founds the tea factory in Bad Wörishofen in the existing distribution warehouse. One reason for this is the belief that the Kneipp plants should also have a firm association with Bad Wörishofen where Sebastian Kneipp operated his business.
In 1991, the tea factory was completely destroyed in a devastating fire. Immediately after the building was rebuilt, full production resumed in 1992.
Luitpold Leusser dies on October 23, 1996. His wife Mareille Leusser, Erika Oberhäußer and her niece Susanne Boecker (daughter of Gisela Bolch, née Oberhäußer) and her husband Fritz Boecker assume management of the Kneipp plants.
The Kneipp plants found subsidiaries in the USA, Switzerland and Austria. During this time, the Kneipp plants transform into a modern production site with a central warehouse in Ochsenfurt-Hohestadt near Würzburg. The quality control and analytical development laboratories as well as the research and development, marketing authorization and medicine departments are also moved to the new site in 1999/2000.
Mareille Leusser and Erika Oberhäußer retire from the company.
PAUL HARTMANN AG from Heidenheim joined Kneipp. The HARTMANN GROUP holds 80 percent of the company's shares and Susanne Boecker holds 20 percent.
In early 2002, Fritz Boecker steps down from executive management and Susanne Boecker does the same a year later. The international side of the business undergoes significant expansion.
On May 11, Dietmar J. Salein assumes executive management of the Kneipp plants.
Strategic reorientation and repositioning of the brand in accordance with the guiding principle "Kneipp works. Since 1891" with a focus on the original core target group of persons aged 50 and over.
PAUL HARTMANN AG takes over 20 percent of the shares in Kneipp from Susanne Boecker and becomes a 100 percent shareholder of Kneipp.
July 8, 2008
Launching of the Hohestadt Kneipp site with the name of "Werk Oberhäußer" (Oberhäußer Plant) in the presence of Erika Oberhäußer as an outward sign of the appreciation of the origins of the Kneipp plants and the achievements of the founding family, the Oberhäußers.
The first Kneipp shop in a shopping outlet is opened. Starting in 2011, Kneipp implements the concept for opening retail stores in Germany and Austria. Since then, there have been ten Kneipp stores with the complete, large Kneipp range.
Implementation of the site concept and concentration of all production and administrative areas at the Ochsenfurt-Hohestadt site.
Christoph Hirschmann and Frank Titus take over the executive management of the Kneipp group from Dietmar Salein. The new executive directors share the task of achieving further successes with the Kneipp brand and the Kneipp group. The mission of the namesake, Sebastian Kneipp, still forms the basis of their business practices.