“The IKEA spirit is a strong and living reality. Simplicity in our behavior gives us strength. Simplicity & humbleness characterize us in our relations with each of our team, our suppliers & our customers.” – Ingvar Kamprad, Founder
Founder Topics: a born “E”, Birth, Focus, Competition, Quality + low $$$, Charity + +
IKEA Founder Ingvar Kamprad made headlines in early 2004 when a Swedish business magazine reported that he had temporarily surpassed Bill Gates as the world’s wealthiest person. While IKEA’s unconventional ownership structure makes this the matter of some debate, there is no doubt that IKEA is still one of the largest, most successful privately held companies in the world, with over 200 stores in 31 countries, employing over 75,000 people and generating over 12 billion in sales annually. Kamprad passed away on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at the age of 91.
1. a Born Entrepreneur: Ingvar Kamprad was born in the south of Sweden in 1926 and raised on a farm called Elmtaryd, near the small village of Agunnaryd. At an early age, he learned that he could buy matches in bulk from Stockholm and sell them at a fair price, but a good profit. He reinvested his profits and expanded to fish, seeds, Christmas tree decorations, + pens and pencils. At age 17, Kamprad’s father gave him a nice reward for doing well in school. What did he spend it on? He founded IKEA.
2. The Birth of IKEA: The name IKEA was formed from Kamprad’s initials (I.K.) plus the first letters of Elmtaryd & Agunnaryd, the farm & village where he grew up. After founding the company in 1943 as a mostly mail-order sales business, the company began by selling a variety of goods, including wallets, watches, jewelry & stockings before expanding into furniture nearly five years later. When Kamprad outgrew his ability to call on his customers individually, he converted to a sort of makeshift mail order operation, hiring the local milk van to make his deliveries.
3. The Greatest Mistake of My Life: During his teens, Kamprad attended some pro-Nazi meetings. When this was uncovered in 1994, Kamprad said, “This is part of my life I bitterly regret. After a couple of meetings in pure Nazi style, I quit.” In a letter to employees, he asked forgiveness.
4. Focus on Furniture: In 1947, Kamprad introduced furniture into the IKEA product line. The use of local manufacturers allowed him to keep his costs down. The furniture was a hit, and in 1951, Kamprad decided to discontinue all other product lines and focus on furniture. In 1953, the first IKEA showroom opened. It came about because of competitive pressures. IKEA was in a price war with its main competitor. The showroom allowed people to see it, touch it, feel it, and be sure of the quality before buying.
5. Competition Leads to Innovation: IKEA has now become known worldwide for its innovative & stylish designs. Almost all IKEA products are designed for flat packaging, which reduces shipping costs, minimizes transport damage, increases store inventory capacity, + makes it easier for customers to take the furniture home themselves, rather than needing delivery. While this innovation is now viewed as a great customer experience that helps IKEA customers purchase furniture without the hassle of delivery fees & wait times, the original reason for it was competitive pressure from IKEA’s competitors to their suppliers, who actually boycotted IKEA, forcing IKEA to do it themselves.
6. Good Design, Function & Quality, with Low Prices: Kamprad’s vision has been the driving force behind IKEA’s success. It hires its own designers, who have received numerous awards over the years. Kamprad believes that the company exists not just to improve people’s lives, but to improve the people themselves. The self-service store design and ease of assembly of their furniture are not merely cost controls, but an opportunity for self-sufficiency. This vision is reinforced in their advertising & catalog, as well.
7. All In the Family: Kamprad has been extremely shrewd in creating IKEA’s organizational structure. It is owned ultimately by a Dutch trust controlled by the Kamprad family, with various holding companies handling different aspects of IKEA’s operations, such as franchising, manufacturing & distribution. IKEA even has an investment banking arm. Kamprad has repeatedly resisted pressure to take the company public, feeling that it would slow their decision -making processes that have allowed their phenomenal growth over the decades.
8. Frugality & Charity: On the one hand, Kamprad has a reputation for being, well, “cheap”. He takes the subway to work, and when he drives, it’s an old Volvo. Rumor is that when he stays in a hotel, if he feels the urge to drink one of those expensive sodas from the wetbar, he replaces it later with one picked up from a nearby convenience store. Yet IKEA has a long tradition of community outreach and philanthropy, with each store encouraged to support local causes, plus international sponsorship of UNICEF and others.
4 Fascinating facts about Ikea’s founder Ingvar Kamprad
- Appreciator. Ingvar Kamprad may be the most influential appreciator in the history of interior design, thanks to the mass-produced and self-assembled furniture created by Ikea, the home furniture and decor company he founded which exported minimalist Swedish designs throughout the globe.
- Euro Expansion. Throughout the 1960s, those expanded to other parts of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. The expansions continued; in the 1970s, stores opened in Canada and Switzerland, and in the 1980s, the USA — and even Russia and China by the year 2000.
- He lived very frugally and challenged his management staff to do the same, issuing company policies that mandated travel in economy class rather than first class, stayed in cheap motels, and ate inexpensive food when on the road. For decades, he drove a 1993 Volvo, but he also had a Porsche, which he kept from obvious sight.
- He always considered himself a “Commoner,” and even the company motto at one time read, “To create a better everyday life for the many people.”
Legacy of Ikea’s founder – Ingvar Kamprad
- among the most famous Swede in world history – he is, after all, the founder of IKEA. Kamprad is acknowledged as the brains behind the outstanding success of IKEA – the world’s largest furniture retailer.
- From humble beginnings, Kamprad grew his mail-order company into the largest of its kind in the world. His first Mobel-IKEA store opened in 1958, followed by stores outside of Sweden, such as in Norway (1963), Denmark (1969), Switzerland (1973), and West Germany (1974), among others.
- Resigned. In June 2013, he resigned from the board of Inter IKEA Holding SA. He explained his decision as part of taking another step toward the generation shift to his sons & daughters – although he is still known to provide his valued inputs about IKEA’s overall vision.
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from many Sources 2/18 complied by Peter, Mr Wiz4biz
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