A down-to-earth company writes history
Innovation has a tradition at Vorwerk & Co. Since its creation in 1883 the company has grasped how to foresee customers’ changing needs and changes on the markets, or how to respond to them quickly.
This flexibility is fostered due to the legal form of the family-run company with its short routes for decision-making. Vorwerk was a purely textile enterprise at first; its own machine-operated factory works was adjoined as of 1908. The newly developed hand-held vacuum cleaner that arose from the crisis of the economic depression in 1929 was a ‘white elephant’ at the beginning due to its nondescript appearance. Faced with this situation, August Mittelsten Scheid, the head of the company at the time, ventured what is probably the greatest innovative leap in the company’s history: He introduced direct sales & distribution, a method that his son, Werner, had become acquainted with during his stay in the USA. This form of sales ensures a continuous exchange back and forth with the customer. The expert consultant demonstrates the appliances while accruing new ideas and suggestions at the same time. This way the customer is directly involved in product development.
This basic stance towards the customer helped to make the direct sale of electrical appliances and fitted kitchens a success. Yet it also ended up being transferred to all the other fields of business at Vorwerk & Co.: broadloom carpets, commercial services and specialised sales outlets. Vorwerk sees the basis for its further growth and ongoing internationalisation in the dialogue conducted with the customer and the constant innovation that results from it. Customer orientation is a key to success all over the world, whether in India, China, the USA or Europe. From its long tradition of working with change Vorwerk & Co. gathers the strength and assurance that it shall remain successful on the global market and for a long time to come, too.