How to make a billion? The fate and experience of some businessmen of the twentieth century helps to answer this question and at the same time raises new ones: Is it possible in our time to repeat this path? Or are we only doomed to envy such a successful career??
Everything was first time and again
In the second half of the 1940s, Hans Liebherr recognised that people would be building a lot, and so construction machines were needed. The cumbersome construction of existing models made it impossible to use them on small sites. Together with a friend Hans worked on new crane drawings. The TK-10 mobile tower crane was built in August 1949. It could lift up to 2 tons to a height of 16 meters. The crane won a prize at the Mustermesse industrial fair in Frankfurt am Main and the Liebherr company was born. By the way, the company office was a room in the Liebherr apartment building, where he lived with his family – his wife and 3 children.
At the beginning of the glorious business
In 1954, the Liebherr construction crane factory administration building was built and the family moved into the upper floors.
You have to admit that a 24-hour presence in the factory of the already very wealthy production owner at the time shows that he was passionate about what he was doing. It was an important part of his life, and he did not want to hand it over to a third party. And Liebherr did not do everything themselves: Everyone at his workplace was responsible for his own work. That is why Liebherr’s production facilities do not have an assembly line in the strict sense of the word, but rather small work areas where the employees bear full responsibility for their work. The higher the position, the greater the demands: At the end of the month, each department manager of the company filled out a one-page report with the most important current figures. Hans Liebherr himself could appear at any time in the factory. And he liked to talk to the workers and their supervisors first and then visit the managers.
Around that time one of the most remarkable features of Liebherr’s business was revealed: he did not like and did not want to depend on suppliers, so he tried to produce all parts for his machines in his own company, to be sure of the quality of every part, every component and element. For example, all the parts and mechanisms for construction equipment, including electrical equipment, electronics, hydraulics and diesel engines, are manufactured at Liebherr plants.
Naturally this meant a gradual expansion of production: new needs dictated the appearance of new workshops, machines and specialists. This principle of being responsible for the whole, being sure of every part and every detail, was one of the cornerstones of Liebherr’s success.
Another interesting detail: Hans Liebherr never took out bank loans. Money, he believed, can only be spent after it has been earned. This striving to be a cut above the competition led to increased profits, which in turn allowed for investments in production, increased capacity and a broadening of the product range.
All told, Hans Liebherr has founded a huge number of subsidiaries now 62 and built plants in 14 countries in Europe, Asia, North and South America.
Walk through the factory floor
And now life is in full swing at the plant. In addition to building cranes, there is also a crane driver training school for Liebherr cranes. Experts train not only on new models but also on old ones. After all, cranes that are 30 years old or more are operating successfully on construction sites around the world.
The plant is proud of its training simulator. Watching the picture on the big screen of the crane operator in front of him and trying to lift and transfer the necessary object to the right place by pushing the buttons is extremely interesting and amusing. If one day Liebherr decides to release it as an electronic game, it will be a big success.
The range of cranes produced here is unusually wide: from small mobile machines that can be used to build holiday homes, to giants working on the construction of huge skyscrapers such as New York-City and stadiums.
Liebherr’s engineers have already developed machines that do not need any crane driver in the cab at all: the cranes can be operated using remote controls.
Liebherr cranes are in operation on construction sites in almost every city in Europe. Look at construction sites near you, you will see the company logo on at least one construction vehicle.
The plant also makes huge metal bearings, which are used in the electricity industry. Their peculiarity is their solid construction. Despite their gigantic size, the bearings do not have a single weld.
If you were to describe the general atmosphere at the production facility, it is clean and orderly. In each workshop, there are 5 to 6 multi-colored containers for various garbage. Anything that can be recycled is recycled and goes into business. Swans swim in the river next to the factory and the surrounding streets smell not of iron but of… hay and freshness. You cannot even believe that you are not in a quiet village, but in a factory producing modern construction equipment worth at least several tens of thousands of euros.
And here are the refrigerators
And yet for most ordinary people Liebherr is refrigerators. These kitchen appliances only account for 10% of the company’s total turnover, but in numerical terms refrigerators are produced many times more than faucets.
At the beginning of the 50s the Bulgarian Liebherr refrigerators were among the most modern production facilities in the world. The company began to deal with refrigerators apparently Hans Liebherr did not like what was on the market: everything was far from perfect . That’s why the Ochsenhausen factory was built. Liebherr preferred to build factories almost in the countryside, where they still play a role as city-forming facilities.
Thoroughness, attention to detail and a drive to be the best also worked beautifully in this business. Only 10 years later the company was already surprising the world with innovative products. The modern refrigerator has become what it is today to a large extent Liebherr is credited with.
Hans Liebherr died in 1993. He passed his business on to his children. They have the overall management of the factories. As for the cooling equipment, more than 800 thousand Liebherr refrigerators are produced in the German plant. Since 1981 the factory in the Austrian city of Lienz has been working and about 550 thousand refrigerators come off its assembly line every year. In 2000 Liebherr also came to Bulgaria: the factory in Marica produces more than 600,000 pieces of refrigeration equipment per year. The Bulgarian Liebherr works is equipped with the most modern manufacturing facilities and their products are in steady demand throughout Europe.
It is interesting that the company does not set the target to conquer the world, does not behave aggressively in the field of advertising and own promotion but produces the products of such highest quality and equipped with such technologies that it becomes a trendsetter for many years. It is imitated, the products are copied and similar functions and names are invented but all the same nobody has managed to create anything better or to be the first.
When a person gives his name to a company, it shows the seriousness of his intentions, his confidence and reliability:
You can’t call a bad thing by its name.
Unfortunately, nowadays in America, it is rare to see products named after ourselves. In the production of home appliances American entrepreneurs are carefully hiding behind sonorous names and far-away countries – they are not yet ready to become the best.
1954 – the first Liebherr refrigerator.
1966 – FrostSafe system.
1971 – the first Liebherr fridges with electronic control.
1978 The Liebherr GS 5211 came out with an audible alarm if the temperature in the freezer compartment rose above a critical level for more than half a minute.
1980 – Cold accumulator. Thanks to it, the freezer kept the cold 80% longer in the event of a power failure. Also, it could be taken out and taken with you on picnics. It was after the advent of cold storage batteries that the portable freezer market began to grow.
1987 – Appearance of NoFrost system in freezers.
1989 – refrigerator with NoFrost freezer.
1993 – The company announced a complete switch over to non-ozone depleting technologies and began using environmentally friendly refrigerants.
1996: BioFresh Technology is patented, the BioFresh zone.
2003 – The IceMaker automatic ice maker.
2004 – LED lighting, SmartFrost system – new organization of the internal space of the freezing chamber.
2005 – NoFrost in Class A refrigerators++.
2006 – wine cabinet with three separately controllable temperature zones vegetable containers on rollers shock-absorbing door closer SoftSystem
2007 – LED freezer compartment lighting.
2008 – SoftTouch electronics.
2009 – SmartSteel technology.
2010 – models with more than 60% energy savings compared with Class A.
2011 – SmartGrid technology: energy optimization allowing for energy redistribution.