Robert Bosch was a vigilant entrepreneur with foresight. He did not trust the seemingly infinite success story of the magneto ignition for automobiles.

In the knowledge that this dependence upon a single product – one that had made him one of the richest men in Germany – was a risky undertaking, he forged relations with trading companies all over the world.

 

Bosch was an international company even in the beginnings. In Asia Bosch’s sales activities started in 1909 in China, and in 1911 in Japan. Most of all South East Asian countries followed during the 1920ies.

Bosch was an international company even in the beginnings. In Asia Bosch’s sales activities started in 1909 in China, and in 1911 in Japan. Most of all South East Asian countries followed during the 1920ies.

From 1909, Bosch ignitions were available on all continents. This was important in order to make his brand name known internationally, but it did not solve the problem of the narrow product base. Thus he and his successors started establishing further lines of business in automotive technology and elsewhere – power tools, household appliances, and industrial technology – from the late 1920s on and these still exist to this day.

Bosch truck for product delivery with advertising for refrigerators, 1951

Bosch truck for product delivery with advertising for refrigerators, 1951

The survival of the company based on decisions such as entering entirely new fields, but also withdrawing from loss-making businesses, is one of the key features that runs right the way through the company’s history like a golden thread, and is still important to Bosch today. However, profitability as an end in itself was not the key reason for the company founder’s ability to change, but rather his huge sense of responsibility toward his associates.

It takes willingness to change under fluctuating economic conditions in order to keep a company and its workforce as an entity in business, as Bosch well knew. He put it like this: “If my magneto ignition is a flash in the pan, how will I employ my staff then?”

 

Find more exciting Bosch history on https://www.bosch.com/bosch-group/our-history/

About The Author

Dietrich Kuhlgatz

Since 1998 I have been historian at Robert Bosch GmbH in Stuttgart/Germany. Currently, I work in the Historical Communications department as spokesperson as well as researcher, in charge of all product and innovation history requests. In addition, I am responsible for support of all history-related issues at Bosch subsidiaries in Asia-Pacific. Before entering Bosch, I studied in history and philosophy at Universities of Konstanz and Hamburg (both Germany) holding first lectures for students in 1992, working as carer for the elderly and taxi driver during that time. After graduating, I was editor of a scientific journal and research associate for Automobile History at Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin.

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