When Josef Thannhuber in the beginning of the 1960s took over his uncle Hans Einhell's Installation business, he had no idea of the sort of success story he would one day write. Today more than 50 years later, Einhell AG is one of the global leaders in the Do-it-Yourself segment. Decades of hard work, untiring commitment and business foresight have paid off. A real Enabler!
In 1964 Hans Einhell, until then proprietor of an installation business in Landau an der Isar, asked his nephew Josef Thannhuber to take over the firm. No one then could have had any inkling of the consequences this would have. Josef was in fact traveling abroad with the aim of learning his trade there and gaining further experience. Indeed, the dynamic young electrical engineer had very different plans for his own future than just carrying on his uncle’s rural craft business
Yet he ultimately allowed himself to be persuaded and his dynamism soon led him to develop new ideas, visions and products that really jump-started the established installation business of his uncle. And that is how Josef Thannhuber laid the original foundation for the rapid success story that is still continuing today. One key decision that demonstrates the foresight of the mechanical engineer, who was already thinking globally, can be seen in a clever move: he kept his uncle’s name for the firm, a name that over the course of the next half-century would become a byword among garden equipment and power tool brands – Einhell.
From Landau to the whole world – a pioneer in globalization
The first successful years of the reconstruction period saw the production of switchgear and transformers as the basis for further successful products, such as the first construction site distribution boxes with 3-phase reversing switches as well as transformers for welding equipment, cable drums and small battery chargers. The housing was largely made from scrap metal purchased at low cost from a neighboring car-maker. In addition to tools and transformers, the product assortment was also soon expanded by home and garden equipment such as a range of barbecue sets.
Hans Einhell GmbH suffered a first minor setback in 1968, when a fire destroyed the majority of the new production facilities. Yet Josef Thannhuber would not be discouraged and, thanks to the dedication of the staff and skilled workers, was able to resume production after just 14 days.
As 1968 – an extremely eventful year – came to a close and mankind saw the dark side of the Moon for the first time, a course was being set for the future in Landau as well.
The company, ever a pioneer of internationalization, soon opened a production site in Spain. The founder was also one of the first Western businessmen to travel to Asia and develop the Asian markets with further production sites. Contacts in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and Thailand laid the foundation for a forward-looking, long-term strategy aimed at turning the business into an international production and trading company.
To ensure a clear differentiation with the various tasks within the company, Einhell GmbH split into a dedicated sales company, henceforth known as Hans Einhell, Inhaber Josef Thannhuber GmbH und Co KG, and the production company Hans Einhell GmbH. The following years saw the company continue to grow, supplying the main retailers across Europe and becoming market leader for small battery chargers.
When Josef Thannhuber chose the existing legal form for his company in 1964, no-one could have foreseen the rapid growth of Hans Einhell GmbH. In the 1980s, about 20 years after the company was established, it was becoming increasingly clear that its rising turnover, internationalization and market position had long propelled it beyond the status of a family-run business with limited liability.
In an era of increasing globalization and the concomitant growth in investment needs, suitable structures had to be found for the constant progress. And as a consistently far-sighted individual, the company's founder was also thinking hard about the mid and long-term security of the business and its continued success.
These considerations ultimately took Einhell from a family-run SME to an international corporation. The decision to float on the stock market was taken and implemented in 1987.
Now at least, Einhell would not only be in good shape to compete, but also move into the premier league of German companies.
The 25th anniversary of the company was accompanied by some enormous developments in world history that were to play a decisive role in the successful future of Einhell AG. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany that quickly followed, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic restructuring and opening up of the former “Eastern Bloc” that came with it were key milestones for the German economy.
And of course they also opened up new opportunities for Einhell that were grasped with the customary speed and consistency. But certain internal changes were also waiting in the wings in this last decade of the 20th century: Josef Thannhuber moved from the Executive Board to the Supervisory Board and placed the operational management of the company in younger hands. And at almost the same time, a number of senior employees who had been there right at the start took a well-earned retirement.
The transition to a new era and into the 21st century passed off smoothly not least because the company had set the right course for the future based on a well-timed and carefully considered strategy. When Einhell celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2004, the Landau company posted the best annual results of its existence.
The economic crisis as an opportunity to revise the organizational and product structure.
After the company celebrated its 40th anniversary, the Einhell success story proceeded at its usual fast pace. Turnover and profits continued to increase, new foreign subsidiaries were established and new markets opened up. Then, right in the middle of this spell of global growth, Lehman Brothers went bust and everything changed. The consequences of the insolvency of Lehmann Brothers Holding proved to be a huge global financial crisis. Lending around the world virtually dried up, with individual states and whole communities of nations having to take a range of measures of their own in order to protect themselves.
Einhell met the challenges of the consequent financial and economic crisis in the time-honored way – by responding rapidly and in particular taking preventative action. Foreign subsidiaries were consolidated and organized in a tighter structure; new products of even higher quality were developed and integrated into a more concentrated core product range.
a higher quality marketing campaign repositioned Einhell as a brand; and more international markets in South America and Australia were opened up. Einhell's organization and structure also moved with the times and a large number of innovative management processes were introduced.
As the fifth decade of the company's history came to an end, the new slogan didn't just apply to the past but also proclaimed the strategy for managing the future: Einhell. Well done.
The group is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and it can rightly be proud that after these 50 years it is not only still on strong legs but has a far-sighted corporate strategy that enables it to look forward with positive energy to a exciting future.