On March 12, 1942, the company founder Robert Bosch died at the age of 80, following a severe infection. Even now, his legacy continues to have a lasting effect on the company and Robert Bosch Stiftung, the charitable foundation that is the company’s majority shareholder.
A multifaceted personality
The man who founded the company and gave it his name was a multifaceted individual. Above all, he was someone who was willing to give new ideas a try and was fascinated by technical innovation. Full of élan, he opened his “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering” in Stuttgart on November 15, 1886, without a single product of his own to sell. Yet despite economic difficulties, he managed to hold his own. The courage he showed in the face of failure is one of the most salient characteristics of Robert Bosch the entrepreneur. Another is his adaptability – to safeguard the continued existence of his company, he both entered new fields and withdrew from loss-making businesses.
Only the best
It was also important to him that only top quality goods left his premises: “It has always been an unbearable thought to me that someone could inspect one of my products and find it inferior in any way. For that reason, I have constantly tried to deliver only products which withstand the closest scrutiny – products which prove themselves superior in every respect.” His business relationships were based on firm principles. For instance, he considered it important to treat his associates equitably. Once an associate had won his trust, they would be rewarded with great responsibility and fairly recompensed for their work.
The private person
He loved his Swabian homeland and nature and enjoyed going hunting and into the mountains to restore his strength. Besides looking after his workforce, Robert Bosch supported a large number of projects with no direct links to the company. He believed in giving back to society and, above all, generously supported initiatives promoting education, healthcare, and international understanding.
The state funeral
As a freethinking cosmopolitan, he repudiated the National Socialist regime. In an ironic twist of fate, however, the National Socialists capitalized on his death. In the middle of the war, and with an eye for maximum publicity, Adolf Hitler ordered a state funeral for the great entrepreneur.