British physician Sir Joseph Lister was the first to treat wounds with dressings soaked in carbolic acid, which achieved a germicidal effect. As a result, wounds could heal quickly and without complications. The physician reported on his findings in a series of articles for the scientific journal "The Lancet", which enthused Paul Hartmann, who then wrote to Lister expressing his willingness to mass-produce the dressing material. A lively exchange of correspondence developed between the two.
Lister and Hartmann – collaborators who never met
In 1875, the PAUL HARTMANN company began industrial production of absorbent cotton wool, gauze and jute impregnated with carbolic acid. These products were a huge boon to the general populace – thanks to them, patient mortality once again fell rapidly. That was a fact deserving of publicity, so the company management decided to focus on advertising at an early stage. Posters painted in Heidenheim were sent out and stuck to advertising pillars. They featured a company logo consisting of a red cross on a white background, which was registered as a trademark in 1883.
First foreign factory in Pavia
Meanwhile, the 1880s saw a handover between family generations: Paul Hartmann Snr. died in 1884 and Paul Hartmann Jnr. in 1899. Walter Hartmann, the son of Paul Hartmann Jnr., took over the running of the business. The new head of the company systematically continued its expansion strategy. To obtain capital, in 1912 the company was converted into a family-owned corporation with a four-member Management Board made up entirely of family members. Despite upheavals, business continued as usual during the First World War (1914-1918). However, after 1918 the lost foreign business had to be rebuilt.
Meanwhile, the HARTMANN range continued to expand. In addition to existing products, the manufacture of special warming plasters began in 1919. They were joined in later years by painless burn dressings. For a long time the slogan on posters and packaging read: "HARTMANN helps healing". Another innovation in the 1930s was a burn compress impregnated with Branolin ointment – it is still in the range today as "Branolind". The Second World War (1939-1945) was a devastating setback for the company: all its foreign plants and subsidiaries were lost.
In 2018, HARTMANN is celebrating its 200-year anniversary. We are now counting down to our anniversary celebration in June 2018 through a series of articles that show how our employees and partners contribute to advancing healthcare, as well as discussing trends and issues that affect the healthcare systems we serve.