Hatteberg's People - Fruhauf Brothers

By: Larry Hatteberg Email
By: Larry Hatteberg Email

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On Hatteberg’s People, not many companies last one hundred years. Fewer still remain in the same family. Fruhauf Uniform Company of Wichita is one of those exceptions. Richard and Ken Fruhauf are the latest of the family to head this 100-year-old company. They make band uniforms. In music circles all over the U.S., they are considered one of the best.

In a world of needles and thread, Ken and Richard Fruhauf are the fourth generation of their family to operate the Fruhauf Uniform Company.

“When we get up every morning, we start thinking about all the things that we have to accomplish that day,” Kenneth said.

“We operate basically as if we were one,” Richard said.

“You’re doing a beautiful, beautiful job with this,” Richard said.

“Thank you!” Richard said.

“This came out very nice using the black - made it nice and clean,” Richard said.

Over a sprawling workplace, band uniforms ordered from all over the U.S. are transformed from pieces of cloth, to a bold design for schools and universities.

“There is not a textbook in the world that can actually tell you how to run a business from the ground up,” Kenneth said

“You have to get in and experience it,” Kenneth said.

“It's organized chaos, that’s what we call it. Every product we make is a little bit different. Every garment requires different operations, different techniques, so we are not always doing the same thing over and over again,” Richard said.

It began a century ago when Herman Fruhauf began making ceremonial dress for fraternal organizations and the circus. Then his son Ludwig ran it and brought it through the great depression. Then it was Ken and Richard’s father Fred turn to oversee the many craftsman who make each uniform to rigid yet creative specifications.

“We started out in the very beginning when we were 16 years old working in the stock room, driving the local delivery truck, running to the bus station picking up supplies, whatever it may be,” Kenneth said.

“It was a comforting feeling to know that you were part of this bigger picture. That you were part of 100 years of business, you were part of continuing what they did,” Richard said.

“I cannot wait to get out on the road and visit another school or attend another college football game or college football game to see our products being displayed at halftime,” Kenneth said.

“One day you just kind of wake up and here you are,” Richard said.

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