(L-R) Arie Wissmann, Chairman of the Board; Nachum Wissmann, President
The story of the Wissmann Group mirrors the story of Israel. It is the quintessential immigrant experience set against the background of a feisty nation born in the midst of bitter conflict and hopeful dreams.
It began in 1932 when Leo Wissmann, an artistcarpenter and ardent Zionist, and his wife Yehudit immigrated to Israel from Germany. Over the years, their business, which started from a humble workshop in Jerusalem, featuring a small-scale production grew to turning out furniture that gained high favor with the city’s top clientele. Public figures and respected institutions were attracted to the Wissmann’s well-crafted handiwork.
The Wissmanns furnished the home of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion and those of many of the State’s early ministers, as well landmarks such as the President’s Residence, Hebrew University, Mormon University, Israel Museum, Hadassah and Shaare Zedek hospitals and the King David, Hilton and Four Seasons hotels. They accomplished important projects in Egypt, Iran, Mauritius and Africa. The list goes on.
The couple had two sons, Arie and Nachum, who were expected to take over the reigns – and did just that. Arie, who is now Chairman of the Board, went to Denmark to study the furniture industry, while Nachum, President, went to Germany to specialize in interior design. This education, plus, according to Nachum, “our father’s almost endless knowledge and experience which was instilled in us each and every day”, proved invaluable and a determining factor in the Wissmann Group’s enduring success.
With the mission “to see at least every home in Israel with furniture from the Group” as well as “to break out globally in new markets”, the company, which now sees the third generation of Wissmans participating and a team of 150 employees, subscribes to a strict policy of providing “value for money with no compromise on quality” and “speedy delivery”. Eighty percent of the sales take place in Israel, while the remaining 20 percent happen in other parts of the world.
According to Arie Wissmann, the product selection process is done once a month by a committee responsible for product development, design and innovation. Except for kitchen lines, the company has been carrying the same products from its inception.
The Wissmann Group targets age groups between 35 and 65 who live in Israel’s kibbutzims, towns and villages. Their collections, which include contemporary furniture imported from 16 countries around the world, are distributed wholesale to various strategically located furniture stores across Israel. The range consists of dining tables, chairs, wall systems, armchairs, seating systems and an assortment of furnishings. Their partner stores enjoy thegroup’s services from end to end such as marketing material, storage and distribution, customer service and technical support.
Besides its outlets, the Wissmann Group boasts the largest furniture display in Greater Jerusalem, featuring 3,000 square meters of furniture solutions that cater to styles such as the modern, antique, urban and vintage.
Each season features different promotions, including the popular “buy one, take one” hook that results in a spike in sales. Also provided are services such as delivery, service after product receipt, repairs and replacement if required. News in print publications and online marketing are the channels used to inform customers about Wissmann sales campaigns.
There are several brands in the organization that reflect a passion to serve customers’ varying needs.
Shomrat Hazorea evolved many years ago from serving the kibbutz area. Combining quality Jewish labor with European knowledge, tradition and extensive experience in wood, it thrived. The chain has 11 showrooms throughout the country, which provide furniture solutions for all parts of the house. It promises a a shopping experience in a comfortable retail space complemented with honest, reliable and professional service. It specializes in turning out functional furniture for institutions and businesses such as hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, schools, offices, hostels and boarding schools.
Ein Harod Furniture, known to supply collections for children and teenagers, began in the 1920s and was taken over by the Wissmann Group years later. Beds, desks and closets for a young clientele’s needs are found in 30 stores around Israel.
Miskal, established in the 1970s, is popular for its safe and quality baby furniture. It boasts collections approved by the Israel Standards Institute and which have passed strict European standards.
Shomrat Hazorea – Net Collection is the company’s e-commerce platform, which allows online purchases, a telling testimony to the fact that an institution such as the Wissmann Group has vigorously embraced a new millennium.
At an industry event, Arie Wissmann summed up his company’s philosophy: “Our country experienced many hardships over a long period. These ups and downs did not evade us, a leading company in its field. But our golden path was always, first of all, professionalism. There was no middle path for us.
“Success was achieved according to the rules. Honesty and fairness towards our employees and suppliers, who are partners on the road to success. These is our foundation. We stand at the top of the pyramid, however, without the foundation stones, the pyramid would not be built.
“We were never late, even by one day in paying our employees’ wages. This also goes for paying our suppliers and government authorities, even during the most difficult periods. Also abroad, we are known as a reliable and stable company.
“Our parents knew how to prepare us professionally as well as mentally for the challenge of leading and managing a company.”
He added that since the reunification of Jerusalem some 50 years ago, which signaled a turning point in its economy, the company benefited from a mixed populace. “We have employed Arab workers who work in full harmony with their Jewish counterparts.
“Our employees are our human capital and the reason for our success.”
To honor the Wissmann Group’s efforts, its founder, Leo Wissmann, received the “Jerusalem Honored Citizen Award” in 1976 and the “Medal of Honor of Israeli Industry in 1982. His sons also received the “Medal of Honor of Israeli Industry” in 2013 – a rare instance when both father and offspring were bestowed the award.
God has indeed smiled on the Wissmann family, and they mean to continue the good work.