Shortly after returning from war captivity in 1945, Otto Johannes Müller possessed the optimism to found a small business. Things were difficult to begin with. The company founder had almost no funds, premises or material.
In a wash kitchen, bristles were boiled, animal hair processed and, besides brushes, essential items such as lights were produced as these were needed in every household due to the constant power cuts. The first products still left Stützengrün on horse-drawn carts.
To this day, a logo in the form of a mill (Mühle) – what else – adorns each product.
The business grew, workers could be employed and the company began to specialise in the manufacture of shaving brushes. The first export customers were acquired. Mühle products were delivered to Greece, Russia and Arab countries. The shipments were taken by horse-drawn cart to the railway station in the neighbouring town.
In 1949, a fire destroyed the entire company building – a wooden shed of the former Reich Labour Service – and with it all materials and stocks. Not even this setback could discourage Johannes Müller. The company was able to use the premises of a former local textile firm.
In 1963, goods were already being exported to 36 countries and the company continued to grow. In 1968, Hans-Jürgen Müller took over the management of the family business which was soon employing around 40 people.
Following the early death of the company founder in December 1965, his son Hans-Jürgen, who had just completed his studies, took over the management of the company.
In 1970, the company moved into a new production and administration building at the previous location. At this time, the main customers were state trading companies in the GDR and its “socialist sister countries”.
Private businesses were a thorn in the flesh of the GDR leadership. Under pressure from the state, the owners were forced to sell their businesses for a low price. On 17 April 1972, O. J. Müller KG became a Publicly Owned Operation (VEB). In the time that followed, more and more individual businesses were merged to form larger units.
Ultimately, the former private business became Production Facility 6 of the operating section for brush manufacturing of the VEB Flamingo-Bürsten Schönheide, a large-scale operation with more than 3,000 staff. This facility incorporated everything that made brushes in the former GDR.
Hans Jürgen left this operation in 1987 to found a craft enterprise manufacturing brushes which belonged to the Stützengrün brush makers’ cooperative.
Following the major political changes in 1989, the possibility for the reprivatisation of the company arose in 1990, when it was renamed Hans Jürgen Müller KG. In November 1990, a new chapter in the company history began. Hans-Jürgen recalls: “I always expected the initial situation to be difficult, but what we found was much worse.”
All the previous customers had disappeared off the radar. Of the more than 30 staff, only four could be kept in employment. For nearly three years the firm fought to survive. From the mid-1990s things gradually improved. It was possible to re-employ former staff members. With quality and flexibility, new customers were acquired. In the same year, the company celebrated its 50th anniversary.
In the following years, we extended the product programme to form a high-quality full range for the nurturing wet shave. The location grew, undergoing modernisation and expansion. In 2005, the 60th anniversary of the brand, 30 percent of the products were already being exported once again.
Since 2006 we have maintained our complete collection of high-quality shaving accessories and care products under the umbrella brand “MÜHLE” (formerly MÜHLE-Pinsel). A new, classic-modern corporate and packaging design was developed.
A place of inspiration for us and our guests from all over the world is the MÜHLE COLLECTION, opened in 2006. Some 2,000 exhibits from 200 years of history tell informative and curious tales about the art of shaving.
Spacious new buildings meeting high ecological and industrial standards have almost doubled the area for series production, logistics and administration. In 2010, the site was extended into a fully integrated company with exemplary in-house production depth.
To mark our 65th anniversary we presented the most extensive collective since the brand came into existence. In 2010, the designed-oriented portfolio for wet shaving accessories was broken down into the main series “Classic”, “Modern” and “Basic” (now “Intro”).
A minor revolution in the history of the shaving brush: In 2011, as an alternative to the natural hair qualities silvertip and pure badger, we introduced high-quality synthetic fibres in the form of our own developments “Black Fibre” and the premium quality “Silvertip Fibre®”.