An ingenious family – Hansgrohe's company history

The Hansgrohe Group company history

Pioneering work in the Black Forest

Master clothier Hans Grohe (1871-1955) was an innovator. In 1899 he moved from Luckenwalde near Berlin to the small Black Forest town of Schiltach. Two years later he turned his back on weaving and established a metal pressing workshop. Hans Grohe had a passion for water, and so from 1901 onwards he bravely hedged his bets on the sanitary sector, which was still in its early stages of development. Of course, bathrooms in private houses were only just becoming fashionable at that time. He specialised in tin showers, thus laying the foundations for untold success. During the course of the 20th century, Hans Grohe’s small three-man operation in the Kinzig valley developed into a global company. Today it is one of the international innovation and market leaders for mixers and showers.

When showering became popular or: a German success story

By the mid-20th century in Germany, for broad segments of the population it was still sheer luxury to have their own bathroom. Hans Grohe considered the shower an affordable alternative to the bath. Right from the outset, it formed part of the product range in his metal pressing plant. And in the decades to come, he devoted himself passionately and painstakingly to further developing his showers. In doing so, he proved that he had a good nose for business – shaping shower culture far beyond the borders of the Black Forest.

From 1928, Hans Grohe’s hand shower became a convenient alternative to the then customary overhead shower. Hans Grohe became a shower specialist and pioneer for the German sanitary industry. For many decades his craftsmanship and design set the trends. Even as an 82-year-old, this visionary invented something trend-setting: the wall bar, to which the hand shower can be attached at the desired height. Today it is common in bathrooms all over the world – in 1953 it was a stroke of bathroom genius.

Would you like to find out more about the Schiltach think-tank inventions? Here you will find Hansgrohe's innovation history – milestones in shower craftsmanship.

Images
  • In 1901 Otto Johannes, known as Hans Grohe (*1871 in Luckenwalde near Berlin), founded the company in Schiltach.
  • A Black Forest weaver recognised the signs of the times, became a bathroom pioneer – and shaped shower culture.
  • In 1909, a factory building was built onto the Grohe family home in Auestraße, Schiltach.
  • The sanitary business in Schiltach flourished: by 1910 it employed twelve manual workers, one office clerk plus the family members.
  • Hans Grohe’s early masterpiece: hand shower with porcelain handle (1928) – the good, flexible shower for enjoying water.
  • Hans Grohe and his sons: in 1934, Hans Junior (driver) became procurist. His pillion partner here: his brother Friedrich.
  • The family business grew: company founder Hans Grohe with his son Klaus (*1937) on his arm (photo: 1938).
  • They expanded the company internationally: Klaus Grohe (right) and his sons Richard (left) and Philippe Grohe, 2007.

An innovative enterprise with a long family tradition

For three generations, the Hansgrohe company was run as a family business. The founder’s youngest son, Klaus Grohe (*1937), played an active role in his father’s company from 1968 onwards. As a “Green Mind” (Financial Times Deutschland), Klaus Grohe became the sanitary industry’s mentor on issues of environmental protection and sustainability. He promoted water-saving, energy-saving products just as vehemently as he promoted environmental protection and resource conservation in manufacturing. Klaus Grohe managed the by now globally successful company for 33 years, and from 2008 to 2015 he was Chairman of the Hansgrohe Supervisory Board. He is currently its Honorary Chairman.

Two of Klaus Grohe's sons continued the family tradition in an operational context, playing a crucial role in the global success of the South German shower pioneer. From 2008 to 2016, Richard Grohe (*1965) was Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board and Head of the Hansgrohe brand which, thanks to numerous innovations, he developed into a world-famous premium label. From 2001 to 2016, his brother Philippe Grohe (*1967) managed the Axor designer brand and established its international breakthrough by concentrating on collaborating with renowned designers.

A future-oriented passion for water

Klaus Grohe's son Pierre Nikolas Grohe (*1975) has been a member of the Supervisory Board since 2015. Today, he is responsible for the company's future along with the following people: Hansgrohe Supervisory Board and Executive Board.

Bathroom and sanitation specialist Hansgrohe now employs more than 3,800 people on all the continents; around 60 percent of these work in Germany. Even now, every single day this passion for the elixir of life still drives the workforce forward. In the small Black Forest town of Schiltach, bathroom history is being written: Hansgrohe in facts and figures.

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