THE HISTORY OF
THE ONCE LARGEST LEATHER FACTORY

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January 1916

Founding Leerfabriek KVL

The leather industry was very important in Brabant in the 15th and 16th century. This changed in the 17th century. Because of the octogenarian war the industury almost disappeared entirely from our province. The century after that the industry blossomed again: the leather industry moved from Holland back to Brabant. Because of lower wages and a better natural enviroment for the leather. Around 1860 most of the tanneries settled in the area of Breda, Tilburg and the ''Langstraat'' (area between Breda and Waalwijk).

January 1916

Founding Leerfabriek KVL

Paiting leather with the help of chrome was an important discovery for the Koninklijke Verendigde Leder. Because of this method the leather for shoes, bags, clothes and furniture could be painted faster and easier. The first world war also helped the leather industry: because of the mobilisation of the Dutch army in 1914 there was a huge demand for leather.

January 1916

Founding Leerfabriek KVL

The foudners of the factory in Oisterwijk reacted fast to this! Chris van der Aa and Jan Adolf Vermetten established in 1916 the N.V. Lederfabriek Oisterwijk (N.V.L.O.). The reason for choosing Oisterwijk was partly determinded, aside from ideal location (Langstraat), by Chris's wife: she was originally from Oisterwijk.

January 1916

Founding Leerfabriek KVL

On the 7th of January in 1917 the build of the factory started. During the first world war it was hard to get the nessasary supplies, but they were able to keep on building according to plan. Getting enough machines was harder, but Chris made it work. Once they worked that problem out they came across a new problem: they did not have all the needed documents. Eventually in January 1918 everything was sorted out and productoin started in september of that year. Many were sceptical of the modern leatherfactory, with their ambitious objective: to process a 1000 cowhides a day. How could that be possible in a small country like the Netherlands? And how is it even possible to produce a high quality leather in the Netherlands? Soon the critics were proven wrong: the leatherfactory in Oisterwijk was a huge succes!

January 1920

1920s & 1930s glory years

The factory produced 25.000 calf skins per week in 1925: colored, black boxcalf leather, patent leather and suede calf leather. More buildings were build to keep up with the constantly expanding production. The warehouses had a capacity of 120.000 salted skins, because of this the production capacity of 25.000 skins per week was guaranteed. In 1928 the managing board moved from Amsterdam to the brand new office in Oisterwijk called ''Directiekantoor''.

January 1920

1920s & 1930s glory years

The factory was taken over by the successful duo Adler & Opperheimer in 1920: which were big names in the leather industry. Together they founded the Amsterdams Ledermaatschappij N.V., which was later shortened to Almij. The original owners, including Van der Aa, still had shares in their possession. Chris stayed the official 'director'. As reinforcement Albert Louis Benoit, an expert from the United States, was selected as co-director. Soon after him Charles Hueber joined the team as manager, because of his expertise the factory accomplished many successes.

January 1920

1920s & 1930s glory years

In the period before the second world war 80% of the leatherproduction by KVL was exported. In 1928 the stock-exhange on Wall Street crashed and this had a big impact not only in the United Stated, but also around the world. A couple of European countries closed their borders and therefore their trade. The Netherlands, with its open trade, soon encountered difficulties with this international malaise. Leerfabriek received its royal status on the 14th of May 1932 by Queen Wilhelmina. The factory received this title because they played a prominent role in Oisterwijk in difficult times. The Royal Leatherfactory Oisterwijk wasn't just the biggest leatherproducer in the Netherlands, but also in Europe. In the second half of the 1930s the economy was growing again. The value of high quality boxcalf leather increased to almost five million gulden in 1938. 70% of the leather was sold internationally. During these time 550 employees worked at Leerfabriek KVL, who exceeded its competition by miles.

January 1923

The Carels Steam Engine

The Carels Steam Engine was used to supply power to the factory. When there was no electricity in the city centre of Oiterwijk the residents could count on the support of KVL. When this happened the steam engine would spully the city network with electricity. This way KVL wasn't just an employer, it was also a helping hand wen Oisterwijk and its residents needed help.

January 1923

The Carels Steam Engine

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January 1923

The Carels Steam Engine

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January 1928

Founding fire department

After a fire destroyed the warehouse in 1928, a fire department for the company was founded. The fire lasted three days until it was eventually put out.

January 1928

Founding fire department

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May 1930

S.V. Nevelo joins KNVB-footballcompetition

The Leerfabriek dedicated a lot of time to recreational activities. On the 21th of may in 1930 Leendert Moerman and Jacob Gosselaar started an official footballteam called N.V. Nevelo. Which stood for ''N.V. Lederfabriek Oisterwijk''. The duo didn't have enough players to make up a team. So they started recruiting employees of the factory. Just before the second world war the team made it to the second league with secretary Theo van Veggel as their coach.

May 1930

S.V. Nevelo joins KNVB-footballcompetition

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May 1930

S.V. Nevelo joins KNVB-footballcompetition

The Leerfabriek dedicated a lot of time to recreational activities. On the 21th of may in 1930 Leendert Moerman and Jacob Gosselaar started an official footballteam called N.V. Nevelo. Which stood for ''N.V. Lederfabriek Oisterwijk''. The duo didn't have enough players to make up a team. So they started recruiting employees of the factory. Just before the second world war the team made it to the second league with secretary Theo van Veggel as their coach.

January 1934

1940s: WW II

Dr. Erich Rudolf Adler, grandson of the founder of the Leerfabriek, managed the finances and retail of the factory as of the 23th of Septmeber 1929. His nephew dr. Hans Ludwig Adler moved in 1928 to Oisterwijk and took over the technical management in 1934.

January 1934

1940s: WW II

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January 1939

1940s: WW II

Manager Charles retired in the meantime. His son August took over his fathers duties in 1939. On the 15th of October of that year founder Chris van der Aa died, twelve days before the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the factory. To flee from the ongoing war the board moved to Amsterdam. Another measure that was taken by Adler and Oppenheimer, was moving the head-office to Curaçao. 10 may 1940 was the day that German troops invaded the Netherlands. The cousins were Jewish and had to flee: Erich moved to Argentina and Hans moved to New York. In the Big Apple he started Relda (Adler turned around) Trading C. LTD with one of his brothers. They controlled the factories in the United Kingdom and America from there.

January 1939

1940s: WW II

Manager Charles Hueber retired in the meantime. His son August took over his fathers duties in 1939. On the 15th of October of that year founder Chris van der Aa died, twelve days before the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the factory. To flee from the ongoing war the board moved to Amsterdam. Another measure that was taken by Adler and Oppenheimer, was moving the head-office to Curaçao.

January 1940

1940s: WW II

In opdracht van de Duitse bezetter nam dr. Hubert Huppertz het management over. Onder zijn beheer ging de fabriek verder met de productie, zo goed als men in deze zware tijden kon. Niet snel na de bevrijding van Nederland keerden Adler en Oppenheimer terug om het management weer in eigen handen te nemen. Dr. Hubert Huppertz took over management which was ommissioned by the German occupier. Under his leas the factory kept going with the production, as good as that could be done in these hard times. Not long after the liberation of the Netherlands Adler and Oppenheimer returned to take back their management duties.

January 1941

Founder van der Aa dies

On the 15th of October founder Chris van der Aa dies. Twelve days before the factory's 25th anniversary would be celebrated. Frans de Jong and August Hueber became the acting director and manager.

January 1941

Founder van der Aa dies

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January 1941

Founder van der Aa dies

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January 1948

1940s: WW II

After the war production was cut down to 50% compared to 1938. To bring the production back to what it was, an interim manager was assinged by the Dutch Management Company: Major Scheidelaar. In 1948 the factory was already producing 10.000.000 feet per year. After Scheidelaar left his tasks were taken over by Busch, de Jong and van der Keyl. The experienced manager August Hueber joined the now completed team.

January 1948

1940s: WW II

In 1948 production dropped with 15% compared to before the war. This was because of the problematic supply of raw skins. This changed between 1948 and 1950: the exportproduction increased from 15% to 60% in these years. This made in capable for the factory to import high volumes from abroad, which resulted in an even higher production!

January 1950

1950s

The 1950s were dedicated to growth. Productivity increased and KVL products took over China, Germany, America and many more. Not only was KVL thriving as a company, the employees were better taken care of than ever. Leerfabriek KVL had good facilities for their employees: houses were built for workers and many parties and trips were organised.

January 1962

1962 Oisterwijks patent leather

In the '60s experts who worked on KVL invented an innovative process that prevented the leather from tearing. This was a groundbreaking discovery! A discovery that made the leather from Oisterwijk very populair in the modern shoe industry. The fashionable Italians got a whiff of the success and became a big customer.

January 1962

1962 Oisterwijks patent leather

During the international schoeshow Bata International in Amsterdam a lot of shoes that were presented were fabricated with KVL leather. In 1962 the first pressreleases were made about the ''new leather from Oisterwijk'', Aquilon patent leather.

January 1963

I can make good use of this handbag!

Toen in 1963 het dorp Oisterwijk 750 jaar bestond, kwam Koningin Juliana langs bij Leerfabriek KVL. Haar werd een handtas van het nieuwe lakleer geschonken, waar ze heel blij mee was! ‘’Ik kan deze handtas goed gebruiken!’’ When the town Oisterwijk excisted for 750 years in 1963, Queen Juliana visited Leerfabriek KVL. She was gifted a handbag made from the new patent leather, which she liked a lot! ''I can make good use of this handbag!''

January 1973

1973 First year with a loss

In de beginjaren van de jaren ’70 produceerden de arbeiders van de KVL drie soorten leer: boxcow, split en patentleer. Het leer werd voornamelijk verhandeld met Frankrijk, Duitsland en Rusland. 1973 was het eerste jaar met verlies. Na intensief onderzoek in de herfst van dat jaar was de conclusie dat de verkopen nog verder zouden dalen. Zonder vernieuwing was er geen toekomst voor de leerindustrie. Er werd besloten dat een keuze gemaakt moest worden tussen: óf productie in Waalwijk, óf in Oisterwijk. Niet allebei.

January 1974

The start of moving all production to Oisterwijk in 1974

In 1974 they started moving all production to Oisterwijk. During this year the name ''Verenigde Leder Industrie'' was changed to ''Koninklijke Verenigde Leder''(KVL). The patent leather from Oisterwijk got to expensive to produce and the stop of the production was the end of an era for KVL. The famous laboratory was also closed. These measures did lead to a small profit in 1975.

January 1983

1980s

KVL was responsible for a quatar of the leather production in the Netherlands in 1980. In 1983 the factory was part of the ten biggest leather factories in Europe. A personal waterfilter system was installed to keep up with the growing production.

January 1983

1980s

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January 1983

1980s

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January 1983

1980s

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January 1991

At the start of the 90's there were only 230 people working at KVL

At the start of the 90's there were 230 people working at KVL. But a radical plan was constructed by director Hagemeyer: three-quaters of the workers had to leave. There was only work for 63 employees. Eventhough it was a hard measure it took its effect: after the workers left KVL started making more profit. Aben and Van der Kley were in charge of the dismissal of the workers. They suggested that they would merge after the reoaganisation. KVL was taken over by Nesbic and Abic Holding. At the end of 1990 the amount of employees was rebuild to 93 and that year KVL had a revenue of 30 million gulden. In 1996 the 75 year anniversary was celebrated. Leerfabriek KVL survived the stormy 90's.

January 1996

Leerfabriek KVL celebrates its 75 years of excistence in 1996.

They survived the stromy years in the beginning of the 90's!

January 2001

On the first of January 2001 it was over for Leerfabriek KVL. The last 35 employees lost their job.

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January 2009

Municipality Oisterwijk buys KVL

Municipality Oisterwijk bought KVL with the plan to shine a new light on the once biggest leather factory of Europe and save it from destruction.

January 2009

Municipality Oisterwijk buys KVL

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January 2009

Municipality Oisterwijk buys KVL

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January 2009

Municipality Oisterwijk buys KVL

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January 2009

Municipality Oisterwijk buys KVL

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January 2009

Municipality Oisterwijk buys KVL

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January 2009

Municipality Oisterwijk buys KVL

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January 2009

Municipality Oisterwijk buys KVL

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January 2014

Municipality Oisterwijk sells remaining buildings to the province of Noord-Brabant on 8 January 2014

Municipality Oisterwijk sells remaining buildings to the province of Noord-Brabant on 8 January 2014. They started with the reallocation of the building under the theme: ''Ambachtplaats voor CreativiTIJD''.

January 2014

Municipality Oisterwijk sells remaining buildings to the province of Noord-Brabant on 8 January 2014

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January 2014

Municipality Oisterwijk sells remaining buildings to the province of Noord-Brabant on 8 January 2014

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January 2014

Municipality Oisterwijk sells remaining buildings to the province of Noord-Brabant on 8 January 2014

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January 2014

Municipality Oisterwijk sells remaining buildings to the province of Noord-Brabant on 8 January 2014

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January 2014

Municipality Oisterwijk sells remaining buildings to the province of Noord-Brabant on 8 January 2014

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January 2014

8 January 2014: the municipality Oisterwijk sells the remaining buildings to province Noord-Brabant

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January 2018

International company Polimeks buys the KVL terrain from Province Noord-Brabant

The main building was immediatly taken into use. They also started constructing the buildings that still needed to be renovated: ''Ketelhuis'' and ''U-building''. Cem Siyahi, Vice chairman of Polimeks is proud to have bought Leerfabriek KVL: ''We have been excited about KVL ever since our first visit. The buildings not only breath a long history but also a huge energy and diversity. We want to carry on but also enhance this dynamic. The plans for the U-building are build on three functions: stay, broaden and connect. We will treat KVL, with the U-building as its heart, with care and evolve it to a place with international force. We will incorporate our worldwide gained knowledge and experience to make a long lasting contribution to KVL!''

January 2018

International company Polimeks buys the KVL terrain from Province Noord-Brabant

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January 2018

International company Polimeks buys the KVL terrain from Province Noord-Brabant

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January 2018

International company Polimeks buys the KVL terrain from Province Noord-Brabant

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January 2018

International company Polimeks buys the KVL terrain from Province Noord-Brabant

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January 2018

International company Polimeks buys the KVL terrain from Province Noord-Brabant

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January 2018

International company Polimeks buys the KVL terrain from Province Noord-Brabant

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