15 February 2017

Handicare: 130 Years in the Making

history_stairlift_460jpg.jpg We were founded over 130 years ago in 1886, based on the instinct of a young Dutch businessman, Jan Hamer. Hamer took his schooling seriously: expanding his knowledge, refining his techniques and learning 3 languages: Dutch, English and German. Intrigued by technology and industry worldwide, he used what he had learned in school to found his own company. His company traded various products from companies internationally, including Robert Boyle fans, Carré air pressure tanks, Kelley stained glass, paintings, powdered milk and even the phones of CH Milde Fils & Co. His curiosity for new inventions eventually led him to become the first official importer of lifts, which were constructed in Berlin, Germany by F. Witte. On April 2, 1886, Hamer installed his first lift and the rest is history. 

The war years

history_stairlift_jan-hamer.jpg Hamer was joined by a partner, Mr. Mulder, in 1889 and the company changed its named to Jan Hamer & Co as a result. The business grew rapidly into the biggest Dutch manufacturer of lifts.  However, due to the global economic crisis of 1929, the production of lifts and elevators dwindled drastically, continuing through the years of World War II. After the war ended, Jan Hamer & Co resumed activities and started to repair elevators destroyed during the war. 

On January 1, 1960, Mr. Mulder’s grandson, Gerrit Pieter Mulder, Jr. was hired to be co-director. Mulder Jr. had graduated from the University of Technology and had gained manufacturing experience from various companies in Vienna and Stockholm. He learned through an American newspaper of a stairlift fitted with an armchair. He decided to introduce this technology in the Netherlands. He built his first stairlift along with Van Winssen, Bakker, Jongerden and Pastor. Being a very creative person, Mulder Jr. also began the first corporate marketing activities, such as the creation of a logo and product advertisements in newspapers and magazines. Because business was good, Jan Hamer & Co decided to expand and move its headquarters to Heerhugowaard, Netherlands where our headquarters remain today.

The acquisition

In the 1990s, it was decided to change the company name to "Freelift", wanting to denote the fact that the complete production was dedicated to stairlifts. The name also represented customers’ preservation of freedom by purchasing a stairlift.

In 2001, we installed our first Van Gogh (our current Freecurve)! The product was a true innovation in the stairlift market.
The rapid growth of Freelift pushed the company to build a new factory in Newtonstraat, which still remains today. The manufacturing facility has a total area of almost 33,000 square feet and was designed to be highly efficient.

December 2007 saw the birth of a new era for the company: it was bought by Norwegian Handicare. Handicare provides international production with offices around the world: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, UK, France, Poland, Canada, USA, China, France and Italy.

...And the others?

Lots of companies come and go, so who else shares our same birthday? 


history_coca.jpg Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by John Styth Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta, Georgia. He created a flavored syrup, warming it inside his pharmacy and mixing it with sparkling water. The drink was considered "excellent" by those who tested it. The book of Dr. Pemberton, Frank M. Robinson, was the one who invented the name "Coca-Cola", and was responsible for the design of the brand and logo, which is still in use today. The first Coca-Cola was sold for 5 cents a glass. During the first year, sales averaged nine drinks a day, which totaled approximately $50 revenue for that first year. Today, Coca-Cola is consumed at more than 1.9 billion drinks per day. 


Robert Bosch set up a workshop for precision mechanics and electrical engineers in Stuttgart, Germany in 1886. One year after its founding, the company invented the magnet for switching low-voltage. In 1897, Bosch mounted this device on a motor tricycle, the first low-voltage magneto ignition device installed in a motor vehicle. This invention allowed the company to grow and expand with sales offices and factories around the world. In 1906, it was producing 100,000 magnets. By 1917, the company transitioned into a corporation, becoming Bosch AG and in 2003, Bosch bought the Buderus company, a manufacturer of equipment for heating and cooling.


history_mercedes.jpg Carl Benz fully demonstrated his skills in the development of vehicles. Instead of installing the motor in an existing vehicle, he thought of his car as an integrated standalone building. Benz designed the three-wheeled vehicle in October 1885. On January 29, 1886, it takes a step of historic significance: Benz applies for a patent for his "vehicle with gas engine operation" at the Imperial Patent Office. The patent DRP 37435 is now recognized as the "birth certificate" of cars, bearing the name of "Patent Motorwagen" for the world’s first automobile.