OLNEY, Ill. (BRAIN) — KHS Bicycle Parts founder Karl Heinz Schaette died on Jan. 3 from oxygen deficiency at Brookstone Estates assisted living in Olney. He was 88.
“He was proud to ride his bike to work into his very late 70s and always arrived with the elapsed time in hand,” said Thorsten Schaette, KHS Bicycle Parts president and Karl’s son. “To say that he was competitive is an understatement. Always driven with his customers in mind.”
Before starting KHS Bicycle Parts — not to be confused with KHS Inc. — Karl worked for Union Froendenberg in Germany, which manufactured pedals, hubs and spokes. He started there in 1951 in the export department and began visiting customers in the U.S. and Canada in 1964.
“My grandfather (mother’s side) work there as their main bookkeeper, meaning I am third-generation in the bike biz,” Thorsten said. “Karl travelled the U.S. for Union in the ’60s, and several German bike companies asked him to drop some brochures while he visited. After a while doing this, he became an independent rep and sold Union and Weinmann as his main source.”
Karl began KHS Bicycle Parts — with the initials representing his name — in 1970 in New York City. KHS Bicycle Parts brought components to the U.S. from Union Froendenberg, Weinmann, SKS, ESGE, Reich, and Eldi. Three years later, KHS Bicycle Parts moved to Houston.
In 1975, Karl persuaded Union Froendenberg and later Weinmann to begin manufacturing in the U.S. to save money on transportation. Olney was selected as the site, and KHS Bicycle Parts moved there four years later when production began.
Missed most will be Karl’s “drive to make the customer right,” Thorsten said. “His strong belief in God and him sharing this with anybody. His never-ending care for my mom. He got excited about every order which came in, even if it was just a couple spokes to help a dealer. We at KHS Bicycle Parts will work hard to keep the excitement going.”
Today, KHS Bicycle Parts specializes in selling Sapim, Pletscher, Reich, Esjot products.
Born in Ostwennemar-Hamm, Germany, Schaette is survived by wife Erika Schaette, son Thorsten of Olney, daughter Uta Markgraf of Munich, granddaughter Pamela Schaette, grandson Luca Markgraf, great-grandchild Callie Wontrop, brother Armin Schaette, sister Crista Kohlmann, and several nieces and nephews.
A memorial page has been created, and a memorial service will be held tonight at 7 at Kistler-Patterson Funeral Homes in Olney, with visitation starting at 5. To send flowers to the family, visit Tribute Store.