In the golden 1960s, master carpenter Karl Thomas, who resided in beautiful Bremervörde, faced a heavy blow of fate. His wife Anneliese was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The rapid progression of the disease led to a swift paralysis, and his wife's strength diminished. As a craftsman and passionate inventor, Karl pondered how he could make his wife's life more bearable and help her manage everyday situations more easily. At that time, the assistive device market in Germany was hardly developed or known.
Over the following seven years, Karl Thomas developed assistive devices for daily life to restore a sense of independence to his wife. The tragic loss of his wife in 1967 left a deep wound but also served as the impetus for what we now know as Thomashilfen.
Together with his son Wilfried, who was also a master carpenter and engineer, Karl Thomas founded an information and consultation center after his wife's passing. Their motto was "Aiding from Thomas!" They showcased their self-designed assistive devices in the Elbe-Weser region and encouraged disabled individuals to help themselves. Fueled by the overwhelming response from the public, Wilfried eventually established a proper company in 1969—Thomashilfen was born!
At that time, everyday aids were a novel and groundbreaking innovation in Germany. In contrast, Scandinavia already had a thriving assistive device market. There were even exhibitions in Scandinavia dedicated to the rehabilitation sector, where such products were made accessible to the public. One day, Karl returned from an exhibition in Herning, Denmark, with a bag full of exclusive contracts with Scandinavian assistive device manufacturers. Initially, it seemed like an impossible task to distribute these unknown products in the German market, but the relentless ambition of father and son kept them from giving up.
Wilfried Thomas visionary saw a significant need in Germany as well. He rolled up his sleeves and, in 1977, spearheaded the first assistive device trade fair in Germany called "Reha Care" in Düsseldorf. This was another pioneering contribution by Thomashilfen, which would significantly shape the rehabilitation market in Germany and Europe in the following years.
The company remained true to its innovative tradition and introduced the first rollator in Germany in the mid-1980s. Many more innovations would follow in the coming years. During this time, Thomashilfen operated solely as a wholesale company, distributing almost exclusively Scandinavian products across the entire German market with great success.
Despite all these innovations and achievements, by the late 1990s, it became clear that the wholesale model was not sustainable in the long run in Germany and hindered the desired international expansion. "We wanted to become a leading international specialist, not just a national generalist," confirms Gunnar Thomas, CEO of Thomashilfen, third generation. The company then focused on four segments: pediatrics, "therapeutic" sleeping, daily living aids, and innovative/exclusive products in the field of mobility and positioning.
In the following years, Thomashilfen developed the highly successful and groundbreaking EASYS series of strollers. This groundbreaking range of children's products allowed Gunnar Thomas and his team to leave the German market for the first time and realize the desired expansion in European countries.
Inspired by the successes of their first proprietary products, Thomashilfen developed the groundbreaking and later state-recognized therapy called "MiS Micro-Stimulation®" in 2000. This therapy significantly improves blood circulation, body image, and mobility for individuals. Integrated into the unique THEVO therapy mattresses, this patented therapy has versatile applications in the treatment of pressure ulcers, pain management, as well as in the care of Parkinson's, dementia, and stroke patients.
Once again, Thomashilfen demonstrated its pioneering achievement by combining years of knowledge from medical and sleep research to improve the quality of life for the sick and suffering.
These developments contributed to Thomashilfen's global success story. Currently, Thomashilfen distributes its broad product portfolio in over 53 countries worldwide, collaborating with partners and allied companies. A partnership-oriented exchange, international development, high quality, professional marketing, and optimal service are the ingredients for this remarkable success. Not least, the unique Thomashilfen philosophy and the lived pioneering spirit helped maintain the company's position as an international market leader in its segments.
In 2009, another milestone followed when Thomashilfen strengthened its global presence by acquiring its former US partner, ExoMotion L.L.C., and turning it into the US division of Thomashilfen. This strategic acquisition expanded Thomashilfen's influence beyond North and South America.
Thomashilfen's philosophy, making the impossible possible, opening up new markets, and making life easier for many people, continues to thrive!
It comes as no surprise that digitization has been integrated into product development at Thomashilfen for years, and with the internally developed ThevoSmart One, they have opened the door to a new era of care aids.
In the rapidly changing society and evolving healthcare market, the Thomashilfen team sees great opportunities for the future. While others may be concerned about the future, Thomashilfen has long designed a strategy for the digital age in marketing, communication, and product development. Therefore, it is not surprising that Thomashilfen has long been at the forefront of digital marketing for rehabilitation and care products, setting standards in the German healthcare market.
To leverage synergies more effectively, Thomashilfen became part of the THOMAS Holding, founded in 2015, to further fuel innovation.
The story of Thomashilfen is a tale of tireless passion, dedication, the joy of creating something new together with partners, and the constant search for new ways to improve people's lives.
We are proud to carry on the pioneering spirit and unique company culture established by Karl and Wilfried Thomas in our daily processes, in collaboration with many international partners. Always guided by the motto: Thomashilfen - Ideas for a Better Quality of Life!