Spielwarenmesse: "You won’t find these kinds of relationships in any other industry"

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"You won’t find these kinds of relationships in any other industry"

from Spielwarenmesse eG

The prevailing conditions at the time the Spielwarenmesse® first opened its doors in 1950 were completely different to those of more recent years. We spoke with an exhibitor who was present at the outset: Andreas Loquai (Loquai Holzkunst) will have been there for all 70 varying iterations of this trade fair when we celebrate our anniversary year in 2019. We met for an interview with this contemporary witness to find out more about his impressions of the first decade of the Spielwarenmesse®.

Mr Loquai, you were there in person for the very first Spielwarenmesse in 1950. What did you think of it?

Andreas Loquai
Andreas Loquai is honoured at the 65th Spielwarenmesse 2014 for his company’s permanent presence since the very first trade fair.

Andreas Loquai: That first trade fair was fascinating for me. I was already working in my parents’ company, so I was familiar with all of the business processes. I am still in contact with exhibitors and customers and have even formed friendships with them.

Five years after the Second World War had ended, much of Nuremberg still lay in ruins. What was the mood among exhibitors – what did your parents have to say about the goings-on around the trade fair?

A.L.: I remember well the spirit of optimism at the first trade fair. I visited Nuremberg from 1947 onwards to meet relatives and business associates and saw the destruction for myself. We had to improvise in terms of the stand and also the accommodation – that was still just par for the course in 1950.

You are familiar with the old exhibition centre near the city park, which gradually expanded to include many neighbouring buildings. What was it like to exhibit there?

A.L.: I always closely followed the constant changes with the city centre site. All changes always affected us directly. After all of the temporary arrangements, the trade fair got its permanent home when the exhibition centre was built. We also provided a loan for the building of this. It was with mixed feelings that we bade farewell to the city centre.

There were numerous discussions regarding the inclusion of international exhibitors in the Spielwarenmesse in 1958. Can you remember the heated debates at the time? How do you feel this internationalisation has worked out, knowing what you know now?

A.L.: I remember all too well the discussions regarding internationalisation. I still maintain that the main pushback was from the established Nuremberg companies who had long set the tone at the trade fair and in the industry. We had no concerns within our small company, also because we had seen our export business grow well since 1950.

Your company will exhibit for a 70th time at this anniversary Spielwarenmesse®. What do you feel has changed the most about how business is done now at the Spielwarenmesse® compared with in the past?

A.L.: Our family and the company were incredibly poor in 1950. We had nothing to lose. We saw the opportunities and seized them. Our company and the trade fair have largely grown in line with development across the rest of Germany. Consequently, the risks have also increased. But we have mostly coped. A working group for wooden toy manufacturers based around the Ore Mountains was set up in 1947 with approximately 40 members. My father, Arwed Loquai, was the chairman. Around 20 of these 40 companies exhibited in 1950. By 2005, LOQUAI was the only one still in business.

What do you associate with the Spielwarenmesse?

A.L.: The thing that gives me the most pleasure is the friendships that have developed from the many business connections made at the trade fair. The industry is incredibly close knit, more than any other I would think. I have made friends among the other exhibitors, colleagues and customers. And these friendships have lasted for decades, even across multiple generations.

What is your favourite Spielwarenmesse story or experience?

A.L.: At the beginning, we had a 1 x 1 metre stand in one of the barracks. On leaving this, we were given a 10 m2 stand in the first lightweight hall at the Nuremberg city nursery. This tent was heated with warm air. We spent many an hour at the stand in our coats and gloves. But our stand was near the entrance and our accommodation was across from the hall. So we only needed to walk around 50 metres to get from the stand to bed.

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Author of this article:

Spielwarenmesse eG

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