Klaus Grohe – Third Son of Hans, First Son of Hansgrohe
Klaus Grohe is the third son of Hans Grohe – founder of Hansgrohe – and the man who spent the better part of the 20th century bringing the world its most beloved collection of sanitary-ware.
A Simple Start
When Klaus was just a baby in his father’s arms, Hansgrohe employed around 100 people. Today, the company employs just under 5 000 employees in 22 sales offices worldwide, shipping products to more than 140 countries.
Restricted from working for the company until the age of 25 by his father’s wishes, a young Klaus was a natural inventor, always tinkering on this or building that. With a business administration degree from the University of Bern, he made his way halfway around the globe gathering experience with internships, trainee programs and travel.
In 1968, Klaus returns to become the Head of Organization in Schiltach, before being appointed Head of Marketing. His development of an incredible sales team leads to his appointment as sole CEO in 1977 – at the age of 40.
It doesn’t take long for his talents as a visionary and far-sighted leader to come to the fore. “KG”, as he is known, transforms Hansgrohe from a mid-level company in Germany to a global player in the sanitation game. In 1968, they reported 35 million Deutsche Mark in sales. Ten years later, that figure was 120 million. By 2008, this number was close to one billion Euros.
Klaus pioneered digitization at the company, bringing the future into the doors of the business. He was also one of the first to define a Corporate Identity – something quite new in those days.
“This guy is, and always has been, unbelievable. Full of ideas and passion,” is what famous designer and long-time friend of Hansgrohe products, Phillipe Starck, had to say about him.
Klaus introduced ‘good form’ in the bathroom during the late 1960s. Enlisting the help of notable designers like Andreas Haug, Tom Schönherr, Phoenix Design and, later, Phillipe Starck, Klaus begins to pocket awards.
Notable amongst Hansgrohe’s products are the Selecta (1960s), the Tribel (1970s), the Allegroh and Uno (1980s), the Starck faucets of the 1990s and the Raindance of the 21st century.
A Sustainable Future
Not only is Klaus at the helm of an innovative and award-winning company, he also decides that it needs to become an eco-friendly one too. In the 1980s he makes environmental thinking and acting a core value in the business, as they become advocates of water. Hansgrohe become a benchmark for ‘going green’ in the industry. In 1995, Hansgrohe wins the first environmental award for an industrial company in the world.
“Climate change is already a reality today. When it comes to minimizing CO2 emissions, all of society needs to get involved. We’re paving the way today for the day after tomorrow,” said Klaus in 1990.
A New Age
Klaus retired from the helm in 2008, passing his legacy to his two sons and the new CEO Siegfried Gänßlen. He remained the Chairman of the Supervisory Board until 2015 – aged 78.
Looking back on this illustrious career, one thing is clear – everything that KG touches, turns to gold.
Solid, Hansgrohe gold.
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