Although you may already know that German manufacturer Friedrich Grohe AG & Co (Grohe) is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of bathroom fixtures and sanitary products, you may not know that this multimillion dollar company had modest beginning that date back to the first half of the 20th century.
To really grasp just how far Grohe has comes since its inception in 1948, we must first look at the entrepreneurial spirit of his father, Hans Grohe. The older Grohe was born the sixth son of a weaver in Berlin, Germany in the late 1800s. Always industrious, Hans Grohe opened his first business in 1901 in the small town of Schiltach, Germany, making metal casings for a larger company that produced alarm clocks. (His company is now known as Hansgrohe, a separate entity from Grohe, yet still a family business). He expanded his business into a factory that produced stovepipe rings, spigots, showerheads
, faucets, and other bathroom fixtures. By 1928, Hans Grohe’s first factory was employing a remarkable 100 people.
Although the founder of Grohe as we know it today, Friedrich Grohe, worked with his father for a time, he left the employment of his father’s factory in 1936 and acquired Berkenhoff & Paschedag, a manufacturer of bathroom fixtures that had been around for a quarter of a century, doing business in the Hemer, Germany. World War II put a hold on Friedrich Grohe’s plans for expansion, and the business was dormant until after the war in 1948, when it began doing business as Friedrich Grohe Armaturenfabrik. It was in this post war boom the Grohe was skyrocket itself to international success.
The demand for kitchen and bathroom fixtures exploded. In 1956, riding on the coattails of his newfound prestige, Grohe purchases Carl Nestler, a manufacturer of thermostats, which became his first subsidiary. One year later, Grohe started offering special training sessions for retailers that carried his kitchen and bathroom fixtures, as well as training for plumbers who installed Grohe products for a living. By the early sixties, Grohe had opened a manufacturing plant for his thermostats in Lahr, Germany, which was just the beginning of this company’s rise to greatness around the globe. Beginning with France in 1961, Grohe went on to make its presence known in Austria, Italy, Netherlands, Great Britain, Spain, Belgium, and finally to the United States in 1975.
American consumers loved the Grohe design concept of single-hole fixtures that were easy to install and simple to use. Cutting edge designs plummeted Grohe to the top of the line among homeowners and contractors alike, and Grohe’s reputation was cemented in 1983 with the introduction of the first pull-out spray kitchen faucet
on the U.S. market. Grohe has gone on to introduce Americans to the industry’s first solid stainless steel spray kitchen pull out spray faucets, which were much more durable than the original plastic finished versions in the late 1980s. The 1990s brought out the Grohmix thermostat line, and Americans jumped aboard, taking advantage of a new technology exclusive to Grohe that would allow them to regulate the temperature and pressure of their water, much like they were accustomed to doing with their furnace or central air.
Although Friedrich Grohe AG& Co. is no longer in the Grohe family hands, it continues to dominate a large share of the world’s global market for home plumbing fixtures. With 19 sales subsidiaries, sales offices in 140 countries, and 9 worldwide production plants, Grohe is around to stay for the long haul. Grohe’s lines include shower heads, faucets, plumbing fixtures, flush toilet systems, and thermostats. Among Grohe’s production facility holdings is the largest brass foundry in Europe, located in Germany – a testament to the size and scope of the Grohe machine that puts German engineering into every product that they produce.