Ohlthaver & List turns 100 - News - Gondwana Collection

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Ohlthaver & List turns 100

Avatar of bernd bernd - 15. October 2019 - Gondwana Collection, Discover Namibia

Dirk Heinrich

Carl List and Herman Olthaver

Everybody in Namibia knows the name Ohlthaver & List (O&L) and in particular the company’s flagship, Namibia Breweries. As Sven Thieme, Executive Chairman of the Ohlthaver & List Group and great-grandson of co-founder Carl Julius List, says, “the Treaty of Versailles was registered by the Secretariat of the League of Nations on 21st of October 1919. On the same day an advert was placed in a local German newspaper in far-off, sparsely populated South West Africa announcing the establishment of the company Ohlthaver & List”.

Carl Julius List (1880 – 1959), a banker by profession, arrived in the German colony of South West Africa in 1905 to take charge of the finance division – later the banking division – of the Damara und Namaqua Trading Company. In 1920 he and Hermann Ohlthaver (1883 –1979) as the two partners of Ohlthaver & List entered the beer brewing business and invested a significant amount of money in the Felsenkeller-Brauerei. On 10th of March that year they merged that brewery with the Kronen-Brauerei and on 1st of June renamed the new company the Südwestbrauerei Limited (SWB).

South West Breweries Building

Hermann Ohlthaver left O&L in 1924, just five years after the company was founded.

Carl List brought highly experienced, competent Bavarian brewers from Germany to South West Africa and decided to import ingredients from top suppliers only. SWB invested in new equipment and the entire brewery in Tal Street in Windhoek was refurbished in 1926.

The O&L company started its operations in 1919 in a small building opposite the main post office. Ten years later Carl List purchased a property on the corner of Kaiser Street and Peter Müller Street, now Independence Avenue and Fidel Castro Street. The existing buildings were replaced by a new one which mostly housed the sorting rooms of the Karakul Zentrale as well as offices and apartments. 1965 saw more construction work: Carl List Haus was built. It was renovated in 2010 and expanded by a shopping arcade, the Carl List Mall. Carl List Haus was renamed Alexander Forbes House. It still serves as the corporate headquarters of O&L.

When the government established the Karakul Advisory Board in 1939, Carl List was its first chairman.

Carl List had three children. Son Karl Werner Rudolph – who became known by his second name, Werner – was born on 15th of April 1921 in Windhoek. After passing his Abitur (university entrance qualification at the Deutsche Oberrealschule (today’s DHPS) in 1938 his father sent him to Duwisib to study karakul sheep and cattle breeding. When World War II broke out the following year, Werner was farm-interned as manager at Midgard farm for the entire duration of the war. The farms Midgard and Okatjemise had been bought by the List family in 1937.

Werner and Hildegard List spend a lot of their time at Midgard where Werner List enjoyed his roses and organised a lot of events, from classic music concerts to horse riding and marathon to cycle races and performances in the amphitheatre. Werner List had been farm interned on Midgard for six years during World War II.
Werner List took over as chairman of the Ohlthaver & List Group in 1964 after the death of his father Carl List. Together with his second wife Hildegard he managed to grow and diversify the company.

Werner List got married in 1946 to Margarethe Fortmüller. The couple planted vegetables and sold the harvest in Windhoek. Three children were born of the marriage: Monica, Carl-Ludwig and Sybille.

In 1957 Werner List married his second wife, Hildegard. She became an active and respected partner in his business ventures. Hilde List was the first woman in the country to obtain a truck licence.

In 1964 Werner List became chairman of Ohlthaver & List. In the following years the company expanded into fishing, retailing, meat processing, shipbuilding, engineering and tourism. As a direct outlet for its fresh produce, O&L bought 67 % of Model Super Market in Windhoek from the Van der Walt family. In 1967 O&L acquired the majority of shares in the Hansa Brauerei in Swakopmund. A year later Consortium Fisheries was established, and Kraatz Welding and Engineering – later renamed Kraatz Marine and now known as Kraatz (Pty) Ltd – was bought in 1969 from Richard (Joe) Kraatz, who stayed on as the manager until 1972. Werner List had bought Nieswandt Boat Yard and Engineering Works (Pty) Ltd in Lüderitz in 1966. He entered into a partnership with the owner of Windhoek Schlachterei in 1973 and became the owner of the butchery in 1979.

The farm Kleinbegin, next to the Von Lindequist gate on the eastern side of Etosha National Park, was purchased in 1987. The construction of Mokuti Lodge started in 1988, shortly before Namibia gained independence. Another milestone in the history of O&L and a demonstration of the company’s faith in the future of the country was the Wernhil shopping complex in central Windhoek. Building began in 1989.

More than 1200 guests from all walks of life were invited to the official opening of the new brewery, then the most modern brewery in Africa, on 17th of May 1986 in the northern industrial area in Windhoek. Werner List, then the Chairman of O&L, said he was proud of his team and of the enormous progress the brewery had made in its 66 years of existence. Namibia Breweries continues to apply the Reinheitsgebot, the German purity law for beer.

In 1986 the new brewery in the northern industrial area of Windhoek was officially opened. The old brewery in the centre of town was converted into a tourist shopping and art centre.

Sven Thieme, grandson of Werner List, joined O&L in 1998. When Werner List passed away on 9th of April 2002, Thieme was appointed Executive Chairman later that year. Since 2001 he had been a Managing Director of Ohlthaver & List.

In 2009 an extensive refurbishment of the Midgard Country Estate was completed and Namibia Dairies opened the dairy !Aimab Superfarm near Mariental. Namibia Breweries planted the first barley locally on 17th of June 2011. The new O&L logo was launched in 2012.

Windhoek Deputy Mayor, Teckla Uwanga (right), officially opened the Oktoberfest Festbeer barrel last year 26th October 2018 and enjoyed the special brewed Windhoek beer with the Chairman of the Ohlthaver & List Group, Sven Thieme (middle) and the master brewer, Christian Müller (left). Thieme took over from his grandfather Werner List in 2002.
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