In November of 1919, the two brothers, Josef and Eugen Mayer, purchased an abandoned factory in Burladingen. This was a brave step given the many economic obstacles that needed to be overcome in the post WW1 era.
The two brothers benefited from the profound skills they acquired from their father Johann Mayer. Running a humble knitwear production plant, Johann Mayer was considered a pioneer in Burladingen’s textile industry. In 1922, the brothers started going separate ways: The existing business was divided, and Eugen Mayer started his own company named after himself. In contrast, Josef Mayer continued operations at Mechanische Trikotwarenfabriken Gebr. Mayer KG as the sole proprietor and was now able to fully develop his entrepreneurial talent.
The rapid rise to success of Mechanische Trikotwarenfabriken Gebr. Mayer KG resulted in a continuous expansion of the Burladingen plant in the 1920s and 1930s. In spite of the economic crisis Germany experienced in the early 1930s, the demand for underwear rose, resulting in full order books and a rapid depletion of the local labour market. This made it necessary to open new production plants.
These plants allowed the workers living in the region to work close to home – a benefit of great value given the poor infrastructure, which made it impossible to cover longer distances to reach Burladingen. The expansion resulted in the opening of five plants in the vicinity over a period of two decades: 1923 in Ringingen, 1926 and 1927 in Steinhilben and Trochtelfingen, and, by the end of the 1930s, in Hechingen and Rangendingen.
In a short period of time, Josef Mayer managed to expand the business of Trikotwarenfabriken into that of a successful, large-scale operation with 800 employees.
In 1939, Josef Mayer’s son-in-law, the lawyer Dr. jur. Franz Grupp, joined the company and assumed important responsibilities in its management quickly thereafter.
The war years were marked by a devastating decrease in work force and production volume. The dismantling of the entire state-of-the art machine outfit following the end of the war brought about immense losses.
TRIGEMA and Wolfgang Grupp have commissioned an independent team of historians to work on the company's history in January 2021. The team has a completely free hand in the research. The research will be incorporated into a scientifically viable report.
The 960 employees that worked for Mechanische Trikotwarenfabriken Gebr. Mayer KG in 1952 represented 20% of those employed in the textile industry of the Hohenzollern region and produced 4% of all underwear made in West Germany.
The company added a new administration building and additional production facilities in their anniversary year of 1949 as well as a new boiler house in 1951. The social benefits for all employees improved significantly, when a company health insurance was founded and a company physician practice was established in 1950.
Representatives from the fields of politics, business and culture attended the funeral service. The entire workforce and the citizens of Burladingen bid farewell to the popular entrepreneur.
Since the labour market in Burladingen was depleted of seamstresses yet again, the company opened plants in Altshausen and Krauchenwies in 1959. At the same time, the company moved into the new buildings of their Ringingen and Trochtelfingen plants. The company operated ten plants in the 1960s. In addition, the main plant in Burladingen underwent constant expansion and modernisation.
When Wolfgang Grupp took over the management, the company was highly diversified. Following the example of his successful grandfather, he returned to the roots and abolished the oversized diversification. With great success, because by 1975 he had increased turnover to 28.1 million and repaid the debts in full. Since 1975 TRIGEMA has been Germany's largest manufacturer of sports and leisure wear.
In the years 1973-1977 the existing buildings were modernized and new buildings were added. The open-plan office at the main plant in Burladingen was completed and the equipment expanded. The TRIGEMA Sports and Leisure Centre in Burladingen and the clothing factory in Altshausen were newly built.
In 1995 Wolfgang Grupp was awarded the “Auge mit Durchblick” for the best management idea by the television program IPSO which is hosted by Hessische Rundfunk. In 1998 he was awarded the Stauffermedaille in Gold, for his merits towards the federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, by former Minister-President Erwin Teufel. In 2002, on occasion of his 60th birthday, he received the “Ring of Honour of the Town of Burladingen” for his services to his hometown Burladingen. In the same year, the street where TRIGEMA has its headquarters, was renamed “Josef-Mayer-Straße” in honour of the founder Josef Mayer.
Manufacturing clothes in an environmentally conscious manner has always been TRIGEMA’s focus. In collaboration with the environmental institute EPEA, TRIGEMA developed the first biodegradable t-shirt, according to Cradle-to-Cradle standards, in 2006. This t-shirt was exhibited in the German Pavilion “Balancity – Stadt im Gleichgewicht” at the Expo in Shanghai in 2010. The employees of the pavilion were dressed in TRIGEMA Cradle-to-Cradle shirts and at the end of the Expo these shirts were buried on the premises, in the spirit of the Cradle-to-Cradle principles. The biodegradable collection, made of 100% organic and GOTS certified cotton, is sold under the brand name TRIGEMA Change. This new TRIGEMA Change collection was presented at the Greenfashion Week in Berlin in 2012. Irrespective of the Cradle-to-Cradle guidelines, TRIGEMA also follows a strategy of expanding the use of renewable energy. Since 2008, TRIGEMA uses solar panels on roofs for its own energy usage.
In 2004 Wolfgang Grupp is honoured for his responsible commitment to the German textile industry and to the production location of Germany with the Max-Kehren-Medal by the Verein Deutscher Textilveredelungsfachleute e.V. In 2005 he is awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit by the former Minister of Economic Affairs of Baden-Württemberg. In the same year he receives the “Cicero Rednerpresi 2005” by the publisher Verlag Deutsche Wirtschaft AG, for his exceptional rhetorical performances in the category “Economy”. In 2012 the Minister-President, Winfried Kretschmann, honours Wolfgang Grupp with the “Große Stauffermedaille in Gold” for his duties towards the industrial location of Baden-Wuerttemberg. On the occasion of his 70th birthday, he is awarded the “Honorary Citizenship” of his hometown Burladingen.
In early 2014, the shop at Stuttgart Airport was completely refurbished and only a few months later, TRIGEMA’s first flagship store opened in September 2014 in the Mall of Berlin and is located at Leipziger Platz in Berlin. The TRIGEMA Online-Shop received a complete makeover in the same year and after further adaptation in technology and design in 2017, the shop is now fully responsive on any terminal.
Furthermore, TRIGEMA clothing can be purchased through a number of online partners worldwide. The presence of TRIGEMA in social media channels has grown over the years and the company can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+. TRIGEMA launched its own company blog in July 2015.
On 14th November 2014 TRIGEMA was awarded the Cradle to Cradle® Products Innovator Award 2014 in New York.
In 2015 TRIGEMA aired its new TV advertisement. The aim of the new advertisement is to promote TRIGEMA’s sustainable production 100% Made in Germany and to place a stronger focus within the advertisement on one of the favourite TRIGEMA products, the classic polo shirt.
A new form of advertisement was introduced in 2016, when the TRIGEMA-branded airship had its first appearance at the DFB Cup Final on 21st May 2016 at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.