S. Merzbach - 100 years
[ see pictures and documents of the celebration ]
The "Offenbach Trade Fair", leading to the founding of S. Merzbach. --- The historical development of the firm. --- Family tradition. --- Firmly established in a stormy century
Offenbach on the Main, 14 October 1932.
In the hustle and bustle of our fast modern days, moments of reflection have become rare. These moments become all the more necessary if once again a milestone is set by an Offenbach firm whose founding dates back to the classical era of old Offenbach. And therefore we look back to those years in which our town took over Frankfurt's trade fair as a result of Frankfurt's misguided Custom's policy. It wasn't until then, when tradesmen arrived from all German districts bringing the most varied coinage and currencies, that for the first time Offenbach felt the pressing need for an exchange bank.
With his worldly view, a young Offenbach gentleman, Sigmund Merzbach, who at the time worked temporarily for the Frankfurt bank, L. A. Hahn, and therefore had insight into the bank business of those days, recognized this shortcoming. He took remedial action by founding a bank and exchange business in his home in the Grosse Marktstrasse which he opened on 15 October 1832.
History of the Merzbach House
With this the history of the Merzbach house had begun. Although the glamour of the Offenbach trade fair had already vanished with Frankfurt joining the Custom's union in 1837, Sigmund Merzbach had already established firm ground for himself with his bank that he could develop it further without second thoughts. Relying on mutual trust he gave loans and credits to craftsmen and small (craft) businesses and also gave investment advice to owners of large fortunes. With Offenbach's development the Merzbach business gained a greater market share and until this day, credit and current accounts have been the mainstay of the bank's business.
The original offices in the Grosse Marktstrasse had soon proven to be too small so that already after a few years of existence the firm moved to Frankfurterstrasse (Frankfurt street). When Sigmund Merzbach closed his eyes for good on March 1st, 1869 he left a stately fortune for his 14 children.
Heinrich and Hermann Merzbach
After his death two of his sons, Heinrich and Hermann Merzbach, took over their father's business, while other male descendents founded their own banks in Frankfurt, Berlin, and Paris, and yet others made their living by trade. Under the energetic leadership of the two brothers, of which Heinrich had become a distinguished businessman (A German professional designation and title)and a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the bank further and further developed, mainly because they were able to build up the credit business as the Offenbach economy experienced a strong upswing at the time. Because of sound basic principles and mutual trust, there was hardly a business in Offenbach that did not work together with Merzbach so when the confusions of tiie war from 1866 - 1870/71 came, the two owners managed to carefully lead their business through the uncertainty and towards further blossoming. Heinrich Merzbach died 17 March 1904 and Hermann Merzbach, distinguished businessman, deceased 19 October 1911.
Meanwhile their descendents had grown up, On January 1st, 1902 , Bernhard and Wilhelm Merzbach joined the firm. Carl followed in 1905 and Dr. Rudolf Merzbach in 1919. Except for Wilhelm Merzbach who died July 1924, Bernhard, Carl, and Rudolf are still personally liable shareholder [A special class of shareholding which existed under the corporate laws of that era.] and Wilhelrn's widow is a shareholder.
The facilities had to keep up with the expansion of the firm. A remodelling was undertaken in the nineties which was followed by the construction of a bank building on the Franfurterstrasse property. At the outbreak of the World War the development was forced to a halt
Years of War and Inflation
The years of war and inflation crushed anything that had for the time being been so far the basis of every sound business. In industry and banking, speculative interest was spreading. The focus was on fast-money enterprises and therefore the work of the soundly managed and slowly expanding banks had to step back. This change in the banking continued after the inflationary period. Gradually the July 1931 catastrophe came to a head. Now it showed most clearly that the Merzbach firm, uninfluenced by all illustrated appearances, had followed its firm straight path and had been spared severe disruption. Even after the stock market crash of July 31st., 1931 , the firm was able to put its services at the disposal of it's clientele to the widest extent And from this insight, once the present economic hardships are under control again, they will be prepared to serve their customers in every aspect. Not only the Stock office (founded 1916) in Frankfurt was remodelled into a branch in 1927, but also the business on the Frankfurterstrasse was totally rebuilt and modernized. They moved into these facilities at the end of November 1928.
So tomorrow it will be 100 years since that far-sighted entrepreneurial spirit created an enterprise which has grown in in concert with the Offenbach economy, including it's history and tradition. The ups went hand in hand with the downs of a century of Offenbach business life. The path was often steep and thorny but consoled by a healthy spirit and in a mutual strong trust, obstacles were overcome again and again. The Offenbach economy may be heavily depressed today, but the bell must toll for a new rise again and so the S. Merzbach firm will into it's second century further prove it's worth as a faithful financial helper and guide.