From Fürth, company founder Max Grundig creates a veritable radio empire in just a few years. It is the time of the German economic miracle. In the post-war period, people in Germany indulged themselves again, especially radios and televisions. However, Grundig also produces other electronic devices. The VCR will break the company’s neck.
In the 1950s, the rise of the Grundig brand to a traditional German company of world renown began with the “Heinzelmann” radio. But what about Grundig today?
It all begins in 1930
The Grundig story begins in 1930 in Max Grundig’s small radio shop in the former Sternstraße 2 in Fürth. Because radio technology is still in its infancy, technical defects keep occurring. Spare parts are in great demand. The company therefore specializes in the production of transformers, as this component often fails in the early days of radio.
Like many others at this time, Grundig also made money from German wartime activities. The company supports the military with radio equipment. Production is mainly carried out by forced laborers. A dark chapter in the company’s history.
Immediately after the end of the Second World War, Grundig brought the kit for the tube radio model “Heinzelmann” on the market. With this radio, the brand star begins to shine.
Also read: The best internet radio stations 2022
A “Heinzelmann” makes Grundig famous
In 1949, the “Heinzelmann” radio number 100,000 went over the counter. Grundig is the market leader with 20 percent of all radio sales. 800 people now work for the group. They produce 12,000 radios a month.
In 1951, Grundig even had its own TV channel that regularly broadcasts a program. Historical side note: The German television, the ARD, does not start broadcasting until November 1, 1954.
Speaking of television: the manufacturer now also produces TV sets, although the market for them is manageable due to a (still) lacking TV program. In 1954 there were just 100,000 registered televisions.
But company founder Max Grundig believes in the new medium and is using it to serve a market that will soon be growing rapidly.
In the 1950s and 1960s, however, Grundig also produced other electronic items such as dictaphones, tape machines, cassette players and car radios. Grundig was one of the first manufacturers to offer a color television and in the 1960s it became the largest television manufacturer in Germany.
Fundamentally at its peak
At the beginning of the 1970s, portable radios followed, as did portable, small TVs. At the end of the 1970s, the group is at its peak. Almost 39,000 people work for the Fürth company. Grundig generates sales of more than 1.5 billion euros with its devices.
At this point, however, the first dark clouds were already appearing in the company sky. Because the competition from the Far East, especially from Japan, is giving the traditional German company a hard time.
While Max Grundig has always had an excellent nose for trends throughout his entrepreneurial life, the founder seems to have had a cold when it comes to video recorders.
The company recognizes the business potential in video technology far too late and is not alone in this. Other German brands such as Nordmende and Telefunken only see the red lanterns of the departed train heading to Asia.
As is so often the case with technical innovations, a battle ensues for the best standard in the field of video. Here Grundig even tries with the Video 2000 system establish their own standard. The competition from Asia relies on VHS and wins.
Also read: Old tech that’s now making you rich
The quiet farewell to Grundig
The company goes downhill steeply in the early 1980s. In 1984 the Dutch company Philips took over the management of Grundig AG. The company and the Grundig name will continue to exist for quite some time, but the splendor of the economic miracle has faded.
In 2003, Grundig filed for bankruptcy. Various changes of ownership followed. Today the brand belongs to the Beko Group, a Turkish manufacturer of technical household appliances.
Grundig had to leave his Franconian homeland. The current company headquarters are in Eschborn in Hesse. Almost 200 employees there still produce TVs, radios, Bluetooth speakers and other technical devices. However, the world is no longer aware of this.