Guest Blog by our Danish partners - Vilhelm Hertz
The start of the company – and meet the team:
Kristoffer Vilhelm Pedersen took his education at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art in 1996 and is a driven carpenter with a specialty in renovating old houses. Thomas Hertz has a background as a laboratorian technician and is today working as a technician within research and development at a large Danish company. He is a self- taught machinist and, amongst his friends, is called “the Inventor” for good reasons. Kristoffer and Thomas both met in the gym many years ago and became good friends.
One day in 2015, Kristoffer’s phone rang, it was Lea, she had heard that Kristoffer could fix everything. She had a crutch from a former Danish company, called “Runestokken”, who produced their crutches in the eighties. Lea's crutch was more or less worn down and Lea did not want to change to a standard crutch. A cup of coffee and two hours later; Kristoffer said the famous words “why should I repair your crutches when I can easily build you a new one?”. Easy was an exaggeration; it took Kristoffer and Thomas 8 months before the first prototype was ready for Lea to try and it took another two years before the crutches were developed and finish tested.
During this time, we saw the great lack of beautiful aids in the market and quickly Mette and Michella, the wives of Kristoffer and Thomas joined for hands-on office and marketing support as well as keeping track of the wild ideas of the two creative minds. Mette, in her everyday life, is a Real Estate Agent in the family-owned real-estate agency in the local area. Michella, in her everyday life, is handling Payroll, HR, and Finance in the Nordic part of a global company.
The point of sale in Denmark takes place in Kristoffer’s and Mette's small farmhouse, located in the countryside, approx. 55 km from Copenhagen. Customer visits and customization of the crutches are also taking place here. Production takes place at our own workshops. Kristoffer manufactures the wooden parts of the products, Thomas manufactures the metal parts and Michella manufactures leather parts. What we cannot achieve ourselves is produced by local businesses, in local companies, where we know the craftsmen and can vouch for their high professional standard. All materials for our products we buy locally, where possible.
Sustainability of the company:
For everyone in Vilhelm Hertz, not only good design, high comfort and ethics are important issues, but also the environment has a significant place. Therefore, we only work with northern European wood, where we can identify where it is cut. We handpick the wood to achieve the highest quality. Aluminum, as well as the metal parts, are, to the greatest possible extent, obtain as a cut-off from some of the local machine shops. We choose a core leather that is vegetable tanned and therefore chromium-free. We use as much of our wood and leather cut-offs as possible, and our keyrings are a result of this. Furthermore, it is important to us that our products are made of both high-quality material and design which means that they can last for many years in the battle of fighting the “use and throw away” culture that has been growing.
Due to the rapid growth of Vilhelm Hertz over the past few years, our products are now sold in Japan, Benelux countries and the United Kingdom. The Japanese market is handled by Naoyuki Miyata, who is an educated designer located in Tokyo and who has been apprenticed by Vilhelm Hertz during his one year stay in Denmark. The Benelux market is handled by Yannick Verlinden who runs UNIK Products. She, as well as designed2enable (UK), also have the philosophy that if we surround ourselves with good design, we will thrive. In our growth process, we are grateful to share the common belief across these countries where we want to move away from the institutionalized look when it comes to disability aids. It is our experience that beautiful aids increase the quality of life for those, who are in need of support.
Map of Denmark
Vilhelm Hertz are developing their unique range of mobility aids which currently includes crutches, walking sticks, wall grip grab bar, key turners. For further information click on the links below
About the Authors