Growth from three founding mothers in 1947 to the current 90 employees in 1957Bill for the construction of the first production hall in 1950; Business registration for the shoulder pad production in Gefrees 1952Elfriede and Helmut Sandler in 2016The helsa main location of Gefrees in the 1950sA helsa booth in the 1950sThe manufacture of shoulder pads in the 1960s
21.08.2017 helsainside, helsanews

70 years of helsa: A look back at the beginnings

From visionary entrepreneurship and growth in difficult times

7 decades of company existence are reason enough to browse a little in the old documents of our long-established company. The helsa archive contains true treasures, which tell of visionary entrepreneurship, growth and fashion trends.

To optimistically build up a shoulder pad factory in the economically difficult years following the Second World War is clearly in the category "courageous entrepreneurship":
Helmut Sandler was only 24 years young, when he began production in 1947 in a wooden barrack with three employees.

  • In 1950, a short three years later, he ventured into Schwarzenbach/Saale to build a workplace.
  • In 1952 he was already able to move to Gefrees in a large factory building.
  • The rest is history - a success-story, created by the entrepreneurial vision of a man who saw great potential in the market and his employees.


With all respect for the active company boss, one likes to forget the private Helmut Sandler. He was a highly committed and social man, who was interested not only in the workforce of his employees. helsa for him was his family, which was honestly dear to him. Even in old age, he made his daily tour of the company and was looking for a conversation with the employees. His humorous style is in many memories. In his rare free time, he lived out his artistic vein in photography or relaxed during golfing. 

The fact that his economic and social commitment was rewarded in 1988 with the german “Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande” and in 1992 with the honorary citizenship of the city of Gefrees is not surprising to anyone who knew him personally.

In April, we had the opportunity to talk with Mrs. Magdalena Gräf (85), a helsa employee who witnessed our company’s founding in 1947 first-hand. The interview with her can be read here: "In the beginning we were like a family"

Since his retirement in 1985, his daughter Monika Sandler, directs the company with the same vision and energy. Like father, like daughter. 

Our founder’s courage still influences our company philosophy to this day. Bold decisions are a recurring theme in the history of helsa. Read here about Monika Sandler and her way with helsa"Having the courage to be an entrepreneur is the key to success" 

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