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Adolf Dassler

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Adolf “Adi” Dassler was a German entrepreneur and sports enthusiast who founded the sportswear company Adidas. Born in 1900 in Herzongenaurach, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire, Dassler was trained as a cobbler and began to produce his own sports shoes in his mother’s laundry room shortly after returning from World War I. Dassler’s father worked in a shoe factory in Germany, which was perhaps his initial source of inspiration.

Together with his brother, Rudolf Dassler, and with support from his father and two local brothers who made handmade spikes for track shoes, Dassler founded the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory in 1924. The company would later become known as Adidas. The 1928 Olympics proved to be a monumental event for Dassler and his newly found company, as he was able to equip numerous athletes and receive international attention that would help him expand to a global enterprise. Dassler and Adidas gained a lot of ground during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin when they equipped USA-track pro Jesse Owens with shoes. Owens would go on to win four gold medals wearing the Adidas brand.

During the 1930s and rise in popularity of Adolf Hitler, both Dassler brothers joined the Nazi Party. In fact, Rudolf was captured by American troops and suspected of being a member of the SS, information that was reportedly provided by Adi. While his brother was off and heavily involved with the Nazi Party, Dassler went to work for Wehrmacht, producing boots. This time period marked a turning point for the Dassler brothers, and by 1948, the rift between the two widened and became irreparable. Rudolf left Adidas in 1948 to start his own company, Puma. Puma would go on to become one of Adidas’ biggest competitors. It was at this time when Dassler renamed his company Adidas after his own nickname.

Dassler is perhaps best known for his attitude and for being driven to produce equipment that spoke to the needs of athletes. He was quoted on numerous occasions as saying your job shouldn’t be looked at as work, but rather as something you were passionate about. Dassler died in 1978 and in 1989 Adidas was transformed into a private limited company. It remained in family hands until 1995.

Companies and Investments

Adidas (Founder)

Lessons Learned

From an early age I loved sports, which was something that helped me realize we needed a better way to equip athletes.

I believe that good equipment is the key to helping athletes perform better.

I made a point to try and each and every one of my products before putting them on the market. This allowed me to ensure they all worked properly, which was extremely important to me.

I learned that the best way to get people to buy your product is to produce good, quality equipment and get the right athletes to help you promote the product.

The key to being happy with your ‘job’ is to do something that is less of a job to you, but instead a passion.

Growing up in a working class family helped inspire me to start my own company. I never wanted to be that close to poor again.

I found the best way to continuously put out products that athletes were drawn to was by actually listening to the athletes and trying to design something that would meet their concerns.

Inspiring Quotes

Adolf Dassler 's Quotes

Business is never easy, even when working with family

Adolf Dassler

If you produce good equipment and have the right athletes help you promote that equipment, people will buy it.

Adolf Dassler

It really wasnt a job to me. It was more of a need, desire and sheer love of helping athletes

Adolf Dassler

It was difficult at first, but when Olympic athletes started wearing Adidas shoes and then winning medals, our business really took off

Adolf Dassler

I grew up in a working class family. We werent poor, but we were awful close.

Adolf Dassler

Influential Books