Bosch father of ethical business remembered

Posted on 23 Sep 2011 by The Manufacturer

Today marks the 150th birthday of Robert Bosch, founder of the German-founded manufacturer of mechanical and electrical tools.

Famous for the statement “I would rather lose money than trust,” Robert Bosch was born in Ulm in South Germany in 1861 and after gaining experience with numerous foreign engineering firm finally founded the company which would bear his name and legacy in 1886.

The success of the Bosch business was hard won for its founder but perseverance in innovating for his markets eventually brought dividends. It was its introduction of the high-voltage magneto ignition system, launched by Bosch in 1902, that proved the decisive commercial breakthrough for the young company.

The UK was the first foreign country into which Bosch expanded. An agency was established in Britain in 1898. This was the first step in an ambitious global vision for Robert Bosch.

But despite his commercial determination Bosch never lost sight of his social responsibilities as an employer. “Employer and employee are equally dependent on the fate of their company,” he wrote in an essay dating from 1920. Robert Bosch was one of the pioneers of the eight-hour working day, which he implemented for his employees in 1906.

Despite doubts from critics as to the impact this change would have, Bosch saw productivity rise as less strained workers split their efforts over two shifts. Enabling his workforce even further, Robert Bosch dedicated considerable resources to the establishment of an apprenticeship programme to improve skills in 1913.

Company representative’s today say that Robert Bosch’s approach to business still shapes the company. Associate training and qualification, engagement with lean manufacturing innovations and commitment to product development are at the core of the company’s strategy for growth.

Robert Bosch died in Stuttgart on March 12, 1942. In his will, he set out the fundamental guidelines for his successors. The financial independence and autonomy of Robert Bosch GmbH were especially important for him, since they would secure the company’s long-term success in the future as well.

Today Bosch employs around 300,000 associates is expected to generate sales of more than 50 billion euros in 2011.