My Stationery Story: Michael Gutberlet

Michael Gutberlet was born in Nuremberg, the centre of pencil making in Germany, so it is fitting that he is now the ceo of Kaweco, one of Europe’s premier fountain pen producers. We caught up with Michael to hear his fascinating story.

How did you get involved in the stationery industry?

My father Horst, worked in the pencil industry as a salesman (Nuremberg is the hometown of German pencil makers), so in 1957 I was born into the world of pencils. I have been told that I sold my first pencil at the tender age of 3!

4a Michael with his father Horst and a Japanese business partner in 1980
Above: Michael (centre) with his father Horst, and a Japanese business partner in 1980.

In 1960, my father founded his own company as a representative for pen parts. He began by selling refills, ballpoint pen mechanisms, metal tubes and plastic components in southern Germany. His customers included Lamy, Staedtler, Faber Castell and Parker. The business was successful, so he expanded to cover the north of Germany, Austria and Switzerland and later the whole of Europe.

Meanwhile, I worked at a metal factory in Nuremberg which made pen tubes for Lamy, Montblanc, Pelikan and others. This training helped with the transition to working for my father’s business later on.

What is the best part of being involved in the stationery industry?

The pen industry is so diverse. Those outside of the stationery industry would find it hard to believe that sometimes 50 different companies are involved in the making of a single pen. In the early days, pen manufacturing was done end-to-end in house, but in later years pen makers concentrated on a specific element like, for example, using injection moulding to create the cap and barrel, and would go to companies like my father’s for other parts.

What is your favourite industry memory?

The meetings I had with Dr. Manfred Lamy; he respected young people, ideas from outside and the work of others.

What does 2024 hold for you?

So far, a lot of fun! Our family and company members are in good health. My dream just came true – the Kaweco Sport Piston Filler has arrived – and I still have a lot of ideas ….

Above: The Kaweco Sport Piston Filler has been a dream of Michael’s for years.
Above: The Kaweco Sport Piston Filler has been a dream of Michael’s for years.

Three interesting facts about me…

  1. Pens remain a huge part of my life.
  2. I can windsurf – I began 44 years ago!
  3. Two years ago, I began kite surfing too. So what‘s next……

 

Favourite stationery products…

My favourite stationery products are a fountain pen and a 0.5mm pencil. I always carry two or three pens in my trouser pockets. In my backpack, I carry another five or six pens.

Above: Michael takes to the water.
Above: Michael takes to the water.

 

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