What’s In a Name? A Founder’s Story

Founder's Story Philipp Kreis

Truma recently celebrated ten years of business in North America, yet as many in the RV industry know, Truma has had ties to the United States since the company’s beginning.

vintage Truma gas lamp ad

Seventy-four years ago, the world was experiencing a variety of challenges as a result of WWII. For Germany, that included unreliable electric utilities.  Munich language teacher Philipp Kreis found it difficult to teach evening classes without light. When he discovered no one was selling gas-powered lamps, he took it upon himself to invent and develop his own gas lamp to use in his classroom. Kreis quickly recognized there was a great demand for alternative light sources and began producing and selling his lamps in large numbers.

Just one year prior, in 1948, U.S. President Harry S. Truman had implemented The Marshall Plan to aid Western Europe in the aftermath of World War II. Truman’s efforts and the aid provided in the President’s plan allowed Germany to become an industrialized nation again. Philipp Kreis was so inspired by this program that he wrote a letter to President Truman requesting permission to name his new gas lamp company in Truman’s honor. President Truman wrote back, giving his blessing. Thus, on October 27, 1949, Kreis was able to trademark the brand name “Truma.”

truman letter

The following year, Kreis received his first patent for a new gas light that could be fueled by all types of flammable gases. The language teachers he worked with became the first Truma employees, helping to develop and assemble lamps.

Through innovation, engineering, and perseverance, the company became the leading supplier of RV furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners, and many other systems in Europe. Truma has grown from one company to many, with Truma, Alde, nexT experience, and Truma Group Ventures under the Truma Group umbrella, with locations in Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Italy, China, Australia, and North America.

With all of the changes over the last 74 years, Truma has remained a family-owned company. Kreis stepped away from day-to-day operations in 1988, handing the company’s management over to his daughter, Renate Schimmer-Wottrich. Schimmer-Wottrich now serves on the advisory board while her son, Alexander Wottrich, manages the company as Co-CEO alongside Marcel Janssen. And today, copies of President Truman’s letter to Phillipp Kreis are on display in Truma’s Puttzbrunn headquarters and Truma North America’s Elkhart facility.