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.
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.