One Hundred Years of Working from the Heart

The Stockmar company, true to its philosophy and culture, celebrates its first century as a «date with the future».

Hans Stockmar can rightly be called a world citizen in the best sense. His early years are characterized by a lot of moving around – born in Sydney in 1890, he spends his first years of school in Cairo, San Francisco, London, and Montreux. He discontinues commercial training in Bremen and attends drama school in Berlin. Even though he does not gain a professional foothold in acting, at least not professionally, one can claim that he finds something like an inner, spiritual home in this environment for the first time. Although he still has not found his living ‹place›.

After briefly attending agricultural school, he emigrates to New Zealand with his future wife Vilma. By establishing a large apiary there, the foundation is laid for what will later become the Stockmar company. The extraction of wax associated with beekeeping leads to the production of candles, which, by the way, is still part of the product range today. The honeycomb can also be found in the company logo and thus becomes not only the purpose of life but also a symbol of Hans Stockmar’s connection with this natural treasure – far beyond his own thread of life.

© Enno Kapitza

Life with the bees becomes the purpose of life. While working with these wonderful creatures, formative impulses for Stockmar’s further work and his legacy become visible at an early stage. Today, liveliness, community, and transformation are still central aspects of the Stockmar company. Peter Piechotta once said: «Stockmar is actually beeswax.» Bees collect light and exude the wax, thus creating a physical product from light. «The sole process of beeswax formation – a material that arises from light, warmth, and love – is fascinating to me,” says managing director Inke Kruse.

Bees form very special communities that follow the principles of working together and for each other. They are extremely sensitive creatures and react immediately to external influences. Even with the utmost care and dedication, it is not always possible to get a bee colony through the winter. So these creatures also stand for the mystery of creation and are comparable with the unavailability of life. They give us what they produce from light, warmth, and love, and thus serve as a model for a way of working that can also be sustainable in an economic context. Though how can these qualities also become entrepreneurial qualities?


Light is the prerequisite of all living things and was the origin of the history of creation. Although nowadays, artificial light can turn night into day, which leads to an unnatural rhythm and can make life feel exhausting. It is not only on the outside that we seek light, we long to ignite it within ourselves as well, by caring for what we do, how we do it, and by caring for each other. Light, however, becomes perceptible above all through its antipole, through its clear distinction from the darkness. It is amplified in its effect when it gets hold of us in places where we did not expect it. At the breaking points. Or as Leonard Cohen nicely put it: «There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.»

These contrasts create a spatial effect that painting and photography take advantage of. They serve to open up the space and transform two-dimensionality into depth. In addition, the gradation creates both color depth and transparency, thus ‹bringing light into the darkness›. Goethe, too, dealt with the poles of light and dark in his ‹Theory of Colors› – which he considered his most important work. Apart from the three primary colors yellow (light), red, and blue (dark), all other colors of the so-called color wheel are created between the poles – by mixing the primary colors. Or: diversity through composition! Each color is attributed to a certain ‹character trait›. Colors have an effect! These insights are part of Stockmar’s DNA and also embedded in the products.

Though (entrpreneurial) transparency also brings light into the darkness. The Stockmar company’s self-image corresponds with a triad of economy, ecology, and social issues. So it goes without saying that a portion of the profits is donated to charitable causes via the Neuguss Management Company. That the company advocates for biodiversity and the preservation of organic agriculture. That an aesthetic corporate management is established and continuously effective within the company itself, which is flexible enough to meet the respective individual needs of all employees and partners anew. Yet still operates successfully.

«The heart becomes the place from which future forces radiate out into the world – when our actions become true ‹works of the heart›.»

Jelle van der Meulen


Cold and warmth play an essential role in the production of wax products. The wax must first be melted and then shaped into the desired form. Warmth liquefies it, making it malleable, and flexible. Cold hardens it, stabilizes, and gives it shape. This technique originates from wax molding. It is still used today in the company’s manufacturing processes. Humans are the counterbalancing part of these processes. The natural product beeswax is subject to sensitive fluctuations. So it is elementary that the production processes are guided by humans. The art of balancing, the right moment, the right texture, and the color is up to the human operating the machine. Francis of Assisi said: «He who works with his senses, his head, and his heart is an artist.»

The material wax, however, is equally to be seen as a creative mission. Warmth is necessary for the encounter with the product. The artist’s (creative) will is necessary for it to be able to take shape. The living materials wax and paint are teachers for entrepreneurial and social processes. Artistic, creative activity has a long tradition in the Stockmar company. For one, it can be found within the focus on processes and products. It thrives due to cooperations with training centers and universities. It also radiates inward. Employees can not only engage in artistic activities in regular workshops. Stockmar’s own think tank also creates ‹space for creativity›.

Though in this case art is not only to be seen in the sense of fine arts. Rather, the creative process is also directed toward «the realization of fruitful things for the world through action». Great care in regard to product, social environment, and suppliers is an artistic process that is consciously cultivated. Art not only makes sense, but it also touches all the senses. By being artistic, humans experience themselves as creators. Moreover, art is also socially relevant as Beuys has already taught us. Not only with his products but above all with his attitude, Stockmar wants to help art and meaningfulness come together so that healing impulses for society can arise. Art makes sense.

© Enno Kapitza


In preparation for this year’s anniversary, the question arose again and again within the company as to what exactly there was to celebrate on the occasion of 100 years of Stockmar. Of course, the first thing one looks at on such occasions is what has already been achieved. Though in fact, the company’s impulse is directed toward the future. By tradition, it is geared to the well-being of present and future generations. When it comes to the question of who will shape the world in the future, children quickly come to mind. Stockmar products are designed in a specific way to support a certain experience: ‹I can shape!›. The products thus follow an impulse that came from the Waldorf schools in the last century. Though even beyond the products, the company sees itself as a responsible part of this world, and therefore all lines of sight are directed toward children, toward the future, and it is important to act responsibly in the sense of the common good. This can be described as the Stockmar company’s fundamental principle.

Hans Stockmar not only left behind a very special company with the products we know today. He has lent his name to this house, the products, and the attitude associated with them. Over the course of 100 years, Stockmar has become a personality in its own right. It has become a symbol, a familiar expression, a virtue that expresses a way of life that presents itself with respect, appreciation, dialogue, and a will to shape the future. It is this attitude that connects Stockmar with partners and friends of the house. The anniversary, the solemnity of 100 years of Stockmar is something like a ‹date with the future›. As a community driven by the unconditional will to operate in order to be socially effective. This future orientation is borne by humility and gratitude. But also by the certainty that the future is not only worth it but also that it is possible to shape it. Translation: Simone Ioannou

All photos: © 2022 Hans Stockmar GmbH & Co. kg, Kaltenkirchen.

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