Wednesday, May 22, 2013

HYGEIA, "De Groote" Mineral Water from Semarang

Inside the Hygeia Factory, still could be seen in the background the stained glass window pattern, now was entirely dissapeared. In the top-right corner were the trademarks of Hygeia. (source: tropenmuseum)
If we take a walk to the fish market in Jurnatan, nearly end on the alley we would found an old building which abandoned with an inscription adorned on the walls, PABERIK HYGEIA. I believe, not so many people know, this is a factory of highly-innovative product that is very useful for the development of Indonesia in the scope of both chemistry and healthcare. Long time ago before Mr. Tirto Utomo with his bottled-water products, which now dominate the market developed in 1974, in Semarang, its built the factory of Hygeia, with their products is soda-water and mineral water. This company were developed by H F Tillema, one's of the great innovators during the colonial period.

The current condition of Hygeia Factory in Jurnatan now its used as the
cooking oil warehouse. The building were badly abandoned. 
Born as Hendrik Freerk Tillema, he spent his chilhood in Echten, a village in the Friesland, Netherlands. He was born July 5, 1870. his father, Sikke Tillema is a school principal. When Hendrik was seven years old his mother died. In 1896 at the age of 25 he went to the East Indies and tried his lucky in the city of Semarang. In Semarang, he worked in Samarangsche Apotheek, owned by R. Klaasesz en Co. According to the contract, he received a salary of 200 guilders monthly for the first year. In 1899 he was able to buy the company. he retains the name Klaasesz en Co.. In the age of barely 30, he became the sole owner and leader in the company.

Pharmacist jobs, such as weighing and preparing chemicals substance was his daily activity, thus once he got so bored about his job. In his first year as a boss, he was trying to find something new. When he read an articles on Het Pharmaceutisch Weekblad, he found that millions of soda bottles imported into Java island annualy. He got an idea,  if he is able to sell a hundred thousand bottles of soda, he'll gained such significant revenue.

Then it start, in a few years Samarangsche-Apotheek had an subsidiaries to made a bottled-water then its developed into a hypermodern soda factory. Tillema being so strict related to the hygiene thingy. He knows that pure drinking water is very important for health. At first, he failed to mixed the oxygen with the pure water until he remembered the lessons during his high school about the laws of nature, "Salt could dissolved quickly in the warm water while the gas in the cold water". Then he realized it, he brings tons of ice cubes but then he found that it was too expensive. Finally, he wrap the problems with ordered tons of water with the temperature of 5 degrees Celsius from the ice factory. Its gained success and soon his soda factory growth significantly.

Dr. H F Tillema, circa 1935 (source:KITLV)
In 1901 he built the first factory in Semarang where his workers purify and fill the water into the bottles on the conveyor belt, a most modern system on that time. People called his product as a blank water, and this have an attracted etiquette in the bottle, that is a picture of a black cat with a tail that waved leapfrog letters HYGEIA! The new brand for the Tillema bottled-waters. Hygeia (or actually Hygieia) is the daughter of Asklepios, the Greek god of health protection that now become the brand of the Tillema bottled-waters.

In 1901 he succeeded to sell 500.000 bottles of Hygeia. Also, in early of December 1901, he married Anna Sophia Weehuizen, a 24-year-old teacher. Anna was born and growth in Java, from a family with ten children. His father died at a young age. However, as her mother suggest her, he became one of the girls who continue her education until high school grade. Later, after marriage she became an advisor for the Hygeia marketing and publication. Ten months after their marriage, Anna gave birth to her first child. Two years later the second child was born. Tillema was loved to be circled by his family, so that he took his wife's family members to work in his company.

The Hygeia Ads, here its started with
the words De Groote mineralwater
fabriek te Semarang is wel de Hygeia
fabriek (eng: De Groote mineral factory
in Semarang is the Hygeia factory).
(source: OASE documentation)
While the Coca-Cola company in the early of 20th century have a good advertising patterns, Tillema also used the same way by adopting what the Coca-Cola done. He shared an ashtrays with Hygeia brand printed on it.. In the potential intersection in Semarang, he hung a billboard that interested the peoples to bought his botled-water, Hygeia. The photos of the streets where he placed the billboard itself were printed into postcard and shared freely with the phrase on the postcard, "Hygeia Lemonade is incredible!". When the Gementee (eng: town council) asked him to revoke all of his billboard, he switch the publicity  with using balloon reads Hygeia, that hovered in the sky of Semarang.

In the 20th century, the photography starts to developed, almost everybody pay an interest on it, likewise  Tillema. He made an album about several photos of Semarang scenery and on the backside of the book he put Hygeia brand, also the price list of his products. He spent 50.000 Guilders for advertisement annualy and soon he will enjoyed the results. Hygeia product both the carbonated lemonade drinks and the mineral water were very popular throughout the East-Indies. At that time the price of the product is 25 Guilders, and six empty bottles, can be exchanged for a full six bottles for only 75 Guilders. 

On 1910, Tillema became one's of Het Gemeenteraad (eng: City Council) of Semarang. Because of his services, Het Gemeenteraad van Semarang perpetuate the name Tillema on a park in the Candi Baru region. The park who situated near the official house of De Javasche Bank agent and in front of Ereveld Candi were named Tillema Plein or Tillema Park. Currently we recognize the park as Gajahmungkur Park, because of its situated in Gajahmungkur regency.

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