zapf history

The beginning

1975, West Berlin: subsidised island, student city, stronghold of the alternative scene. First alternative businesses: small organic groceries, bars, the Wagenbach publishing house, the Elefanten Press publisher, the taznewspaper, and TIP city magazine.

Klaus Emil Heinrich Zapf, law student from Kraichgau in Baden, first junk clearance jobs and piano transports in a used Ford Transit. Bit by bit, the moving business grows. zapf calls itself “West Berlin’s best moving collective”.

The company logo, a blue globe, is “borrowed” from the Berlin Tagesspiegel newspaper. The paper’s motto “Rerum cognoscere causas” is first replaced with “Mens agitate molem” – “The spirit moves matter”.


1976, Development in Berlin: zapf grows slowly, but continually. The first overseas moves and the development of a European long-distance network as well as the overseas department. The first zapf workers complete their university degrees: business managers, engineers shape the management with their own moving experience and drive the company forward.

1984, the West German market: Spin-off start-ups in all parts of the German Federal Republic by onetime student part-time furniture carriers, e.g. in Freiburg, Stuttgart, Hamburg. Eventually 11 branches are founded.

The breakthrough

1990, Growth spurt Germany-wide: With the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the Berlin’s removals market grows exponentially. The other locations also profit from German reunification. The group continues to grow. zapf berlin experiences annual growth of 20% in terms of revenues and number of employees.

Berlin’s Tagesspiegel described it as such:

“In Kreuzberg’s Köpenicker Strasse sit the trucks: yellow and blue, one after the other, an island of healthy economic activity in deepest Kreuzberg, not far from the Schlesisches Tor underground station. The area is bleak, comprised of modern buildings, industrial complexes, beer stands, a few trees against which the beer drinkers lean. It’s unlikely this area housed many successful business personalities. And yet a representative survey found that 62% of all Berliners knew the Zapf company.”

1991, Logistics development: zapf is one of the first removals companies to use interchangeable cargo containers. Long-distance capacity is expanded, networked transport and connections are accelerated, the zapf group moves towards becoming a removals network.


1993, Corporate clients: The number of business moves grows rapidly. Alongside 17,000 “normal” moves, the zapf group specialises in moving large companies and public agencies. The zapf network is put to the test and passes.

1996, Certified quality: Successful certification of the zapf system according to ISO 9002 across the entire group.

1997, Moving advertising: zapf covers containers and moving vans with third-party advertising, cooperations with media such as Tagesspiegel andZitty are expanded, television shows an interest in zapf, brand awareness grows Germany-wide.

1998, The contract: “Weighed, measured and found to be feasible” – based on our many years of experience with corporate moves and large-scale logistical projects, Allianz Versicherungs AG has hired us to carry out the relocation of 2,500 workstations over 3 weekends. A coup for zapf berlin – we manage it: the move is successfully completed.

1999, External accolades: zapf umzüge Berlin receives the best overall rating in Stiftung Warentest 7/99 amongst eight Berlin removal companies that operate nationwide.


2000, Franchising: Transformation of the zapf Group into a franchising system, further optimisation of all processes. Expansion of long-distance transport.

2002, Storage business: zapf becomes more involved in the storage business. Alongside private storage, the group takes on more and more storage for companies and commercial clients including warehouse logistics, in Berlin alone 60,000 m² of warehouse space are available.

2003, Framework contracts: The zapf Group signs the 40th framework contract for staff moves worldwide.

Anniversary and future

2005, 30th birthday: zapf looks back at 30 years of experience in the removal business. Every 80th citizen has moved at least once with zapf. The number of clients increases to 45,000 annually, recertification of the group according to ISO 9001: 2000.

2006, The year of the train: over 4 weekends in round-the-clock shifts, zapf moves Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) with 2,500 workstations from 14 locations to a single location. Once and for all the group has established itself as a logistics service provider for all moving-related tasks.

2007, Expansion: 2 new locations are integrated into the zapf Group, Hanover and Mannheim, the group increases into storage capacity to 100,000m².

In 2007, zapf Berlin moves into a new training center in Neukölln and expands the range of existing 5 training occupations to include the job profile of professional driver.

2008, The Academy of Sciences is being rebuilt, zapf takes over the move and will store large parts of the academy library with permanent access for 5 years

In 2009, zapf umzüge was commissioned by several solar module manufacturers, including the Berlin industry leader Solon SE, to store and commission > 1 million PV modules annually. For this purpose, another large warehouse with 30,000 m² of storage space will be opened. The SAP software is introduced for process control and……

2010, zapf umzüge builds the first photovoltaic system with 350 kw peak on the roof of the warehouse location in Berlin Neukölln; the Krefeld location expands the capacities in long-distance transport and in the storage area

In 2011, zapf Berlin integrated a driving school into its own training center and thus ensured the training of its own offspring, as well as the regular qualification needs of its own drivers.
2011, zapf participates in another PV system on a roof in Berlin Marzahn with 1 megawatt peak.

2012, zapf Freiburg opens another storage location and begins large-scale file archiving and supplements the portfolio with the digitization of files

In 2013, zapf umzüge developed the first ECO moving box: The ÖKOBOX, the box made of hollow chamber profiles, can be used up to 1,000 times, is recyclable and significantly reduces the group's CO2 balance. The first field trial with 6,000 eco-boxes will begin before the summer holidays and will gradually replace the corrugated cardboard boxes starting in 2014.

2013, zapf umzüge is tagged: Start of the pilot project of automated recording and monitoring of all movements of swap containers using RFID

2014 Company founder Klaus E.H. Zapf died on August 20, 2014 at the age of 62

2014 Bayreuth becomes a new partner in the network in 2014 - customers in the Nuremberg/Bayreuth area are better reached, zapf Berlin successfully holds the works council elections

In 2015, after being named Best Training Company in 2009, zapf umzüge was once again honored for excellent training quality
2015, after over 30 years, zapf Berlin leaves the Kreuzberg location on the Spree and moves into the new location in Berlin Neukölln.

In 2016, zapf removals expanded its range of services in the area of warehouse logistics to include zapf self-storage. For example, the first of three (2019) fully automated zapf self-storage warehouses in the city is being built in Freiburg on 2,000 square meters, all of which are subject to the highest standards with the latest security technology. Here, zapf umzüge offers flexible storage solutions for private individuals and businesses that are accessible 365 days a year and 24 hours a day.


2018, equality wins! zapf umzüge, together with the Berlin Senate, is committed to a cultural change in the company and signs the charter for equal rights for women and men.


2019, renewed award for excellent training quality

2019, “modern file storage” business area expansion


2020, For more road safety! Purchasing trucks with MirrorCam - instead of conventional main and wide-angle mirrors, the system works with digital cameras and displays

2022, First-time awarding of the newly introduced “Klaus E. H. Zapf” prize by the International Federation, as an award to a student preparing for a career.

2023, Solar panels will also be installed on the roof at the main location in Berlin Neukölln. The brand new system has an output of 650 kw peak.

2023, zapf Berlin expands the storage option to motorcycles. The motorcycles can not only be securely lashed in specially developed boxes, but additional equipment can also be stored.