Table of contents:
- Impetus from the United States
- Picture gallery
- Courage to fail
- Early internationalization opens up market opportunities
- Business areas change, responsibility remains
Video: From Workshop To Global Corporation
It doesn't exactly read like a success story: opening in November 1886, increased from two to just 15 employees by 1891. In the same year the start-up capital was almost used up, the company founder needed guarantees from the mother, additional bank loans and in 1892 the still young company was on the brink of bankruptcy. A lot has happened since then. Today Bosch employs around 375,000 people and generates sales of 70.6 billion euros. The former workshop for precision mechanics and electrical engineering has become one of the ten largest companies in Germany, which operates in more than 150 countries. A success-story.
Impetus from the United States
Being open to new and opening up new markets - that was important to Robert Bosch as an entrepreneur from an early age. At the age of 23 he dared to jump across the pond. He traveled to the United States to work at Edison and gain insight into electrical engineering, which was then more advanced in the United States than in Europe. Bosch hoped to use the new impulses to build a future-oriented business in Germany.
Picture gallery with 8 pictures
The young Bosch returned to his homeland full of enthusiasm in 1886 and founded the workshop for precision mechanics and electrical engineering in Stuttgart on November 15, 1886. The first euphoria was followed by disillusionment. As the development of the power supply in Stuttgart dragged on, the business with electrical engineering did not start. Bosch was on the verge of bankruptcy. With a lot of effort, he was able to keep his company alive with smaller customer orders. When the public power supply came to an end, the hoped-for success did not materialize. Customers were less open to new electrotechnical innovations than the young Bosch had hoped for.
Courage to fail
But Robert Bosch did not lose heart. Convinced of his optimism, drive, and belief in himself and his employees, he was looking for new business opportunities. The year 1897 is perhaps the most important year in the company's history. This year marks the beginning of Bosch's rise to become a global company.
The company had been producing ignition systems for stationary engines that generate electricity in buildings since 1887. By 1896 there were a total of around 1000 pieces. The business was bobbing. But that was about to change a year later. One customer wanted an ignition that could be used in a gasoline engine. An ignition that never existed before. Impossible? Bosch commissioned its foreman Arnold Zähringer to further develop the previous ignition systems. A big risk. For Bosch, however, it was the decisive breakthrough that catapulted the company into the world of manufacturers. Because the magnetic ignition turned out to be the only reliable system for the car. With the success story of the automobile after 1900, Bosch also became a global company. Bosch sold 50 in the first five years.000 copies of his ignition system, by 1912 there were already a million.
Additional information on the subject of historical figures, dates and facts
- 1886: 3
- 1896: 14
- 1906: 611
- 1916: 5,639
- 1956: 38,488
- 1976: 105,872
- 2015: 375,000
Share of sales outside of Germany as an annual average
- 1886: 0%
- 1896: 3.3%
- 1906: 78.9%
- 1916: 9.8%
- 1956: 18.8%
- 1996: 61%
- 2015: 80%
Magnetic ignition production figures (core product ascent to supplier company)
- 1887: 1 piece
- 1888: 4 pieces
- 1891: 130 pieces
- 1896: 528 pieces
- Until 1896 only for stationary engines, a total of 1,000 pieces manufactured
- 1897: New magnetic ignition for automobiles
- 1902: A total of 50,000 units by then
- 1910: Annual production 200,000 pieces (almost exclusively for vehicle engines)
- 1912: A million pieces manufactured by then
Early internationalization opens up market opportunities
Robert Bosch had not expected the huge success of the magnetic ignition. When he decided to build a factory in 1900, he planned a size for around 200 employees. At that time his workforce comprised 30 workers and he was considering renting out part of the new building. He assumed that his company would grow to a maximum of 100 employees. A mistake. Just eight years later, Bosch employed more than 1,000 people.
How a 129 year old lathe becomes Industry 4.0 capable
However, Robert Bosch was skeptical about the magnetic ignition success story as a forward-looking and responsible entrepreneur. Knowing that he was dependent on a single product, he opened up new markets around the world. From 1908, Bosch ignitions were available on all continents. This allowed the company to grow and gain international recognition. Bosch achieved long-term stability with other products for the automobile as well as power tools, household appliances and industrial technology.
Business areas change, responsibility remains
The ability to change, to ensure the survival of the company by entering new lines of business, but also to exit the loss-making business, is one of the characteristics that runs through the company's history like a common thread - until today. One motive for Robert Bosch and his successors was and is responsibility for the employees, not profitability as an end in itself. Back then, Robert Bosch already recognized: "If my magneto ignition is a mayfly, what do I do with my people?" (Kj)
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