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History of the family company Sannemann

1953  – How the company started
Wisa is the brainchild of Willy Sannemann Sr. who in 1953 began printing the first balloons in the front room of his parents’ home. A couple of years earlier, Sannemann Sr. had brought the first printed balloons from Germany at the request of the owner of the Enschede shoe shop Bervoets-Vriezelaar. During the post-war years, the father of the current managing director worked as a waiter in Germany, his native country. He bought the printed balloons at the Kölnische Gummifäden Fabrik (Cologne Germany) and then took his merchandise to Enschede in a box on the back of his motor bike.

Printing himself
“At one point my father thought: I can do this kind of printing myself,” says Sannemann Jr., “so he started doing it himselves. The problem is, you first have to inflate the balloon to be able to print on it. In the beginning this was done with a vacuum cleaner. A clothes peg was fixed to the balloon and then it was passed over a plate. It was the job of us, children, to remove the clothes pegs from the balloons. So every member of the family had a task in the production process.” After several years the clothes peg system was replaced with a bike-wheel system which allowed the air to remain in the balloon for some time, allowing the ink to dry.


1966 – Opening C&A store

When C&A openened a new store somewhere, we would go there ourselves with a team of employees to hand out about 5.000 balloons a day.

Hereby are some photos of the former house where the former printing office in the front room was started and afterwards “the business premises” and Willy Sannemann Sr. at the opening of a C&A branch in Amsterdam is handing out 5.000 balloons a day.
C&A Brenninkmeijer was the first major customer.

1966 – 1986 Willy Sannemann Jr. to lead production
When his father fell ill, Sannemann Jr. went into the business, at the age of 15. “I never went back to school, even after my father had recovered; I had a real dislike for school. The business was much more exciting.” Production, which began with 500 balloons a day, grew quickly. After buying industrial space in the adjacent cardboard factory, Wisa was able to operate better. In the 1950s and early 1960s, the Sannemann family would recruit women living in the same neighborhood to work part-time in their factory.

Faster and more efficient
But Sannemann soon realized there must be a better and more efficient way to print the balloons than the current bike-wheel method. In Belgium a factory was found that was able to simplify the balloon printing process. A rubber impression (of either artwork or text) on a metal cylinder would paint a negative impression on another rotating rubber roll. This allowed a balloon to be hand-pressed against the second rotating roll to transfer the print to the balloon.

The infamous Electrolux vacuum cleaner was now a thing of the past, and was replaced with a small compressor. A revolutionary development, but the Belgians didn’t patent their invention, so 40 machines were purchased. Two of these so-called ‘hand machines’ were connected together and a “set-up wheel” (inflating and moving the balloons) was placed in front of this to create a balloon print-machine that was able to print a balloon on 2 sides at once, and increase production from 5,000 balloons a day to the multiple of this. The 10 ladies in the printing department each placed (by hand) on the machine, which automatically inflated the balloon, pressed the balloon against the rotating roll to transfer the printing, and deflated the balloon.

The era of the clothes peg and the bike-wheel was definitely over

In 1976 Willy Sannemann jr. took the lead of the production of WISA. Although the company continued its growth, the space in which it operated did not. WISA needed room to store what it was capable of producing and the family’s house and the neighbor’s yard were already being used. When a truck came to the small Esstraat to deliver goods for WISA, signs were placed on the road to block traffic since all the goods had to be unloaded by hand. In the afternoons the goods had to be picked up again, causing another traffic problem. “At one point we were in the running to get an order from Heineken,” says Sannemann, “but they wanted to first see if our company was “Heineken-worthy”. We were cleaning and polishing for three days. Two weeks later we received a note informing us that they decided not to give us the order!”

1989-Expanding the product product assortment
The assortment of “dime products” was constantly expanding. On thing led to another: sun visors, flags and other related items, all produced ‘in-house’. Then came an order of no less than 2 million yo-yos. No one in Holland or Germany wanted the order, but Willy and his family saw possibilities. But no matter how well you think you have a handle on things, the minute you hand over responsibility of out-sourced production to someone else and you don’t keep a close eye on it…

And then, what could go wrong did. The supplier, entrusted with automated packaging, unilaterally decided to stop production because the deal was a disappointment. A financial disappointment, that is. The supplier wanted twice the amount agreed upon. The supplier was of course summoned by the courts to deliver the goods for the contractually agreed upon price, but this entire episode put back production an entire month. The deadline put forth by the American customers HAD to be met; otherwise the growing WISA was doomed. To get production going and make up for lost time, packaging machines were purchased and the entire company worked day and night to package the yo-yos. Two plastic parts, a string and of course a safety information sheet, because the order was for the American market for which safety is paramount.

On January 22nd 1989 the order was completed, and in the morning 2 million yo-yos were ready to be shipped. The supposed profits weren’t realized, and the order cost a lot more energy, work and grey hairs than first assumed. Since then Willy has no more illusions about letting go of the reins of control with out-sourced production.

2000 – Anouk Sannemann makes her decision and member the board since
Anouk working in her father’s company? Never! Talking to customers on the phone? “Oh no, I wouldn’t even consider it!”, she always said. Not until after she finished school and internships (where she had to clean windows and paint walls) in 1993 did Anouk decide to work for the WISA company. Soon she appeared to be her father’s daughter in terms of business instinct as well. Commerce and business became her passion and it wasn’t long before she took control of the “balloon strings”. The managing of office work soon became her domain, so that Willy, after having worked in production for so long, could focus his efforts more on technological developments. Anouk Sannemann has been a member of the board of directors since 2000, and is since then independently qualified to act on behalf of the organization.

From Flexoprinting to Screenprinting / Qualityprint
For years, the printing industry was committed to the highest standards in products and printing quality. This was no less true for balloon printing. The ‘flexoprinting’ technique did not produce top of the line quality prints, but was definitely acceptable. The screenprinting technique was being used for T-shirts, ballpoints and many other products already for years, so why not for balloons? The trouble was that a balloon was not a product with a sturdy printing surface, but a product which is airy, floating, and awkward to print on.

The American balloon printers had already mastered this technique, but weren’t keen on sharing their secrets. But Willy wouldn’t be Willy if he didn’t feel up to this challenge. Machines were built, rebuilt, and broken down, over and over again, until, in cooperation with a machinebuilder, a final version was produced. Only the placing of the balloons still needed to be done by hand. This machine ensured a perfect print quality, but couldn’t handle the volume of balloons produced by WISA at the time. A perfect machine, which Willy had dreamed about for years, had to be built. A machine capable of automatically placing the balloons, printing them in top quality, and letting the air out of them again. In 1996 such a machine was finally realized and soon more were produced and placed in production, allowing the current production full automatic.

2006 – We keep expanding

2007 – A new machine for the production of party picks
The first machine to produces party picks fully automatic was already built in 1995 and was due for replacement. The latex fully automatic machine was put into operation in March 2007. “Not only the quality has improved by using this machine, but we can handle much more numbers of party picks, and also this machine fully automatic process the packaging and pasting,” said Willy Sannemann, That is a good feeling with these hygienic products!

2008 – 3rd Machine for the production of paper flags taken in
In early february 2008, the latex fully automatic machine for producing paper flags was taken in use, so the total capacity is now 150,000 paper flags a day. The huge demand of paper flags and any delivery time can now be answered positively.

2009 – 2nd machine for partypick, partypicks and again…
The demand for party picks is so high that even the machine which since 2007 runs in 2 shifts, can not handle this demand. In 2008 it was therefore decided to build a newer type with a careful and even bigger production capacity. Earlier we had to reject orders for millions of party picks, but now we can produces them with even slightly short delivery times. Another machine is already in production, so bring on the millions!

January 2010 – Introduction of a new printing system HQPP / High Quality Precision Print
There are always higher demands for the printing on balloons. A normal text used to be enough, followed by the printing of logos and now this new high quality system is introduced. Printing in CMYK up to a total of 8 colours, whereby a raster image can be achieved for almost 100%. The only disadvantage compared to the standard quality print is that the system is not yet fully equipped with an automatic feeder, but that will be developed this year. Be amazed and view the photos in the gallery.

January 2011 – Introduction of the fully automatic feeder in HQPP / High Quality Precision Print
Not only a big cheers to the new year, but also the introduction of the fully automatic feed is now a fact.


January 2012 – Another new machine for producing paper flags.
Up to this date flags in size C were manually put on a stick. Last year the turnover for this format has increased so that we could not always produce the flags in time. Therefore we created a machine so, equal to the sizes A + B, which can process the flags up to 40,000 a day fully automatic.

2015: New machines for producing cardboard dish plates.
Of course, cardboard plates are nothing new, because at the retailer they are available for example for birthday parties with various standard expressions, mostly coming from far-east productions. However, the demand for this product, with short delivery times has increased, so that we now produce it in our paper production department in Enschede and that in 4 different formats.

2016: Food is “booming”
In addition to the success of the party picks, now also a machine for burger picks. “Food” is big business and the demand for product related items naturally also increases. With the experience we have had for years with the production of party picks, we have been able to develop a machine as quickly as possible! This has been operational and successful since August 2016.

2016: Anouk from deputy to owner of the company
Willy Sannemann Jr. is now Sr. himself. With 50 years of heart and soul in the Wisa-business to have been with his 65 years the time has finally come to pass the baton to Anouk. She has been working in the family business since 1993 and since the year 2000 she was already director and now also the complete owner of the company. The company has been under her management for several years, where she can learn more about “the oldies” than vice versa. New wind through the company, other insights into business management and customer approach, are among others strong points. Willy will of course always be connected to the company with his knowledge of technology and will always be at Anouk’s side with advice and assistance.

2017: Papercups of own production
As previously written that “food” is booming, the demand for paper cups increased. With the idea that reliable partners could be found in Europe, we where very disappointed. Agreements and delivery times were not fulfilled by suppliers, totally inadequate in the WISA segment. The scream for own machines was therefore very large and was realized in the summer of 2017 so that the customer can also be satisfactorily operated for this article.

2018: Machine for double wall paper cups
After the demand for cardboard cups and the different versions of these had increased in 2017, the third machine for cups was put into use at the end of February 2018, now for the so-called “Double Wall”. These double-walled cups are extremely suitable due to their strong insulating effect for hot drinks higher than 100 ° C. Because of the double wall, the contents stay warm longer, with the outside feeling really less warm.

2020: 3rd Machine for Pickers, Pickers, and …..
There are seemingly no more drinks boards on the counter or there is a “Wisa” Prikkertje on it. After more than 34 years of experience and production of millions picks per year, the next machine is ready, so come on with the other millions! Manual productions from the Far East turn out to be not the same with our highly controlled hygienic productions. Also the fully automatic packaging in a box counted per 1,000 pieces, without PP or PE packaging is possible now.

2020-2021: 2nd Machine for Burger picker
In 2016, the fully automatic production of the so-called Hamburger sticks was started. Very nice such a machine with the knowledge of the machines for party sticks, but with a daily capacity of 10,000 pieces, we at Wisa do not really enjoy it. Fortunately, the knowledge of Willy Sannemann could be used, and in 2020/2021 a machine was devised together with a constructor with a capacity of no less than 50,000 Burger picks per day. This machine was put into service in July 2021.

2021: 2 new machines for bamboo-gun shapes and cutlery

Bamboo-gun shapes
Printed bamboo skewer pickers is the latest item in the “Wisa food range”. In principle, this article is known as an import version with a personalized branding in 1 color brown. At Wisa, however, we print this ideal catering item in multiple printing inks, both 1- and 2-page. The choice is …… 

Wooden cutlery
Wooden cutlery is world wide unprinted available, but what do you do if you want these fun and taste-free wooden cutlery parts as spoons, knives and forks provided with your own company name? Also a Wisa article and therefore indispensable in the gastronomic world.

2019 Anouk gets the help she wanted
Managing the company is a piece of cake for Anouk, with production and sales, as mentioned earlier, being instilled in her. However, for all peripheral matters, where her father Willy Sannemann knew all the ins and outs, she really needs a manager. What could not be nicer if you could leave all these peripheral matters to your partner. Someone who has insight into the ups and downs of the business and comes from a larger company. Her Partner Folkert Brink, who came from Vink in Didam as an account manager, will immediately take on this task as Manager General Affairs and can therefore support and relieve Anouk in all aspects of the activities within Wisa.