Quo Vadis planners entered the US market in 1976 – 41 years ago – with a small sales & distribution office in Buffalo, NY. Planners and diaries were manufactured in Carquefou, France (near Nantes, in Brittany), and imported into the U.S.
The manufacturing and warehouse facility in Hamburg, NY was built in 1982, with the grand opening in February 1983.
The U.S. plant was responsible for the manufacturing of diary/appointment books for the U.S., Canada, Australia, Great Britain and Thailand. This is still largely true, although planner covers are now made in Canada, and some of the editions destined for Great Britain are made in Carquefou.
Several of the original employees of the Hamburg plant are still with the company, and most of the rest are long-term employees with many years of printing and binding experience. Years ago there were many printing and binding works in the region, and now less than a handful remain. Most Quo Vadis planners feature sewn binding, which makes the book strong and flexible. The spools of thread spin at an incredible rate as the book is sewn together. People are at the machines to make sure all goes well.
I first went to the plant for a visit in 1999, the year the Group Exacompta Clairefontaine acquired Quo Vadis. Quo Vadis and Exacompta had been competitors, and now they were part of the same team. At that time, many of the “prestige” editions included gold edge pages.
I was fascinated by the gold hammer. This tool was used to pound gold sheets into the edges of the books. Today as in those days, so much is still done by hand. Because paper is so sensitive to the elements and conditions, I can’t imagine manufacturing paper products ever to be totally automated. The human interaction and feel for the paper is still needed.
In addition to Exacompta, Quo Vadis and Rhodia planners, the Hamburg plant started making Habana notebooks about ten years ago. These Habanas are made with a special paper from Clairefontaine that is smooth and fast drying. Some fountain pen users prefer Habanas to both Rhodia and Clairefontaine notebooks. Habana desk size notebooks are the same size as Minister planners. The Habana pocket are the same size as Business.
Habana notebooks are by far our most popular products for corporate gifts.