The year that the chemist Ludwig Sachs published his dissertation was the year of another chemist’s birth: Otto Hromatka. As a professor and later head of the institute for organic chemistry at the Technical University of Vienna, he would not only revolutionise the process of producing vinegar, but also improve the production of vitamin E, developing antispasmodic remedies and other medicine. During the 1970s, Otto Hromatka’s son Hans - following in the scientific footsteps of his father - would found Plastoplan Kunststoff-Handel GmbH, one of the largest suppliers of plastics in Europe. At the same time, Hans Hromatka would also build up the holding society Imarco. Throughout this time, one of the young industrialist’s passions was collecting pencils. Eventually in 2011, he would come to possess over 35,000.
In 1996, newspapers reported on the bankruptcy of the Hardtmuth company in Hirm, the pencil company that the inventor of the modern pencil Joseph Hardtmuth had originally founded in 1790. But instead of acquiring various collector’s items from the insolvent assets in the Koh-I-Noor archive, he or rather his holding society Imarco took over the entire company. Thus the factory in Hirm was not forced to close and the workers were able to hold on to their jobs. But the trademarks “Hardtmuth” and “Koh-I-Noor” were no longer available. A new name had to be found: And thus CRETACOLOR was born and Hans Hromatka’s son Alexander Juan was appointed as the new CEO.
Writing and office materials are now produced all around the world and often they are produced under conditions that are not acceptable for the employees, while at the same time using cheap materials. Producers that resort to these measures are of course able to sell their products at a cheaper price. At CRETACOLOR production is not based on cheap labor and the materials used always correspond to the strict Austrian and EU quality standards. Especially during the 1990s, more and more Austrian companies - in particular in the business of writing and office materials - came under increasing pressure from cheap products elsewhere. Hans and Alexander Juan Hromatka decided to take a different approach with CRETACOLOR and in 1999 invested further in production, buying a large part of other companies in Hirm including ÖKI and SAX. Their strategy was to counter these cheap products with quality, a principle that to this day has been met with approval by its customers.
Finally in 2007, Alexander Hromatka took over Brevillier-Urban and with it JOLLY, a line of products popular in Austria. The previous owner, the Austrian cement company Kirchdorfer, had decided that JOLLY no longer fit into their portfolio.
2007 was the year in which the families Brevillier, Urban, Hardtmuth, Sachs and Pollak with their origins in the 18th century blended together with the foundation of the Hromatka family’s company, which is now looking ahead towards the coming 200 years of production.