The Success Story of “Adidas Founder” Who Started Making Shoes with War Rubbish
The German sportswear manufacturer Adidas was established by Adolf “Adi” Dassler, a cobbler, inventor, and businessman. He was also Rudolf Dassler’s younger brother, who founded Puma. As a pioneer in sports shoe design, Dassler was also one of the first marketers to use athlete endorsements to boost sales of his goods.
Adi Dassler created the biggest manufacturer of sportswear and equipment thanks to his ideas. Adidas had 17 factories and a yearly sales volume of one billion marks at the time of his demise.
Adolf Dassler was the youngest of four children and was born in Herzogenaurach, Germany, in 1900. His mother Pauline oversaw the household laundromat while his father Christoph worked as a tailor. Following his father’s desires, Adolf took an apprenticeship to become a baker after finishing high school. Although he completed this training, he felt that learning the craft of shoemaking would be more appealing because a life of making bread did not hold much interest.
Adolf’s primary interest outside of work was sports. He participated in and competed in a variety of sports, including track and field, football, boxing, ice hockey, skiing, and ski jumping, often accompanied by his childhood buddy Fritz Zehlein (the son of a local blacksmith, who plays a significant role later in the story). He was exposed to so many different sports that he was able to make a crucial discovery that would later serve as the foundation of his success: he saw that virtually all athletes wore the same shoes.
Adi made a living by mending shoes in the city while he tried to launch his company. He started by collecting army remnants from the devastated countryside because, in post-war Germany, there was no reliable source of materials for production and no credit to buy factory equipment or supplies: Leather soles came from army helmets and bread pouches; silk slippers came from parachutes.
In the absence of electricity, Dassler mastered the art of jury-rigging tools to aid mechanise production. He attached a stationary bicycle powered by the company’s first employee to a mounted, leather milling machine, for instance, using belts. Adi’s idea of creating specialised sport designs would steer the company.
With spikes made by the family smithy of his friend Fritz Zehlein, he created one of the first spiked shoes. To make durable yet lightweight shoes, he frequently experimented with different materials (such as shark skin and kangaroo leather). His spouse, Kathe Dessler, remarked years later: “He didn’t work in the shoe industry; it was his pleasure. He carried everything out extremely methodically.”
Meanwhile, his brother Rudolf Dassler had made up his mind to work as a police officer after the war. But on July 1, 1923, he began working for Adi’s company after completing his training. Rudolf joined him in the firm in 1923. On July 1, 1924, Adi was able to register Gebrüder Dassler, Sportschuhfabrik, Herzogenaurach (Dassler Brothers Sports Shoe Factory, Herzogenaurach) with the help of the Zehlein smithy, which was creating spikes.
The Dassler family began producing leather track shoes with hand-forged spikes and Fußballschuhe (football boots) with fastened studs in 1925. The company focused on producing high-quality athletic shoes, and it quickly gained a reputation for producing some of the best shoes in the industry.
However, in 1948, a feud between the brothers led to a split, and Adi Dassler founded his own company, Adidas. He took the first two letters of his name, “Adi” and the first three letters of “Das” from “Dassler” to create the company name. The company quickly gained popularity, and Adi Dassler’s innovative approach to shoe design and manufacturing set it apart from other companies.
One of Adi Dassler’s most notable achievements was the creation of the first-ever soccer shoe with screw-in studs. This shoe, known as the Adidas Copa Mundial, was introduced in the 1950s and quickly became one of the most popular soccer shoes in the world. The screw-in studs provided better traction on the field, and the shoe was worn by many professional soccer players.
In the 1960s, Adidas expanded its product line to include clothing and accessories. The company’s iconic three-stripe design was introduced in the 1970s and quickly became a symbol of the brand. The company’s success was further cemented when it became the official supplier of the German national soccer team in 1974.
Adi Dassler’s passion for sports and innovation extended beyond the design and manufacturing of shoes and clothing. He was a strong supporter of athletes and believed in the power of sports to bring people together. He provided sponsorship and support to many athletes, including Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics, and Pele, who is considered one of the greatest soccer players of all time.
Adi Dassler’s vision and leadership played a crucial role in the success of Adidas. He led the company until his death in 1978, but his legacy lives on through the company’s continued success. Today, Adidas is one of the most recognized and respected sportswear brands in the world. It is a major sponsor of many international sports teams and events and is worn by athletes and sports enthusiasts all over the world.
Adi Dassler’s story is a testament to the power of hard work, passion, and innovation. He started with a small shoe factory and turned it into one of the most successful and recognizable sportswear brands in the world. His dedication to innovation and his belief in the power of sports have had a lasting impact on the industry and continue to inspire future generations of entrepreneurs.
Dassler and Käthe were wed until his passing in 1978 due to heart problems. They had five kids. Horst Dassler, their son, started Arena, a manufacturer of swimming equipment, in 1973. Dassler passed away on December 31, 1984.
Some Worth Knowing Facts
- Adolf Dassler, also known as Adi Dassler, was the person behind the German shoe manufacturer that bears his name.
- To put food on the table, the modest Dassler family sold handcrafted slippers.
- After his return from the First World War, Adolf created his first pair of shoes in his mother’s laundry room.
- The Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory was founded by Adolf and his older brother, Rudolf, but after World War II, they split up, resulting in Rudolf’s own shoe company, Puma! which was the biggest rival to his brother’s.
- During World War II, both brothers served in the Nazi army. Rudolf was ordered to the east to battle the red army while Adi remained at the factory to produce weapons for the Germans. Of the two, he had the stronger Nazi sympathies. This was one of the numerous explanations given for their breakup.
- In the beginning, Puma was known as Ruda since Rudolf Dassler attempted to steal his brother’s concept. But he chose Puma instead of Adidas because it did not sound as cool.
- The Herzogenaurach town, where the family resided and the early enterprises were located, was split in half. people who cherished Puma and those who cherished Adidas. It earned the name “the village of bent necks.” because people would greet or ignore the person after first glancing at their shoes.
- Adidas and Puma have been the respective sponsors of the town’s two football teams for all these years: ASV Herzogenaurach club and 1 FC Herzogenaurach.
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