In 1872, two years before Griebel founded his company, August Heissner began his own decorative ceramics business. Both were located in Gräfenroda, Thuringia. Within a few years, both men were competing fiercely to dominate in the garden gnome industry. The question of which is most responsible for the Gartenzwerge is still highly contested. Heissner’s designs, ultimately, have come to be considered the most well-known and reproduced designs worldwide. At the time, however, Griebel and Heissner were not alone; by the early 20th century, there were at least 16 manufacturers of garden gnomes in east Germany, and more in surrounding regions.