Adolf Dassler Began Business in a Washroom

Adolf (Adi) Dasslerwas born November 3, 1900, in the small Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach in Germany. As a teenager, Adi would learn that work was hard to find after World War I. After the war, the 19-year-old would decide to start his own business since there was little work, but Adi was innovative. In 1919, he would clean out his mother's wash room and convert it into a work shop to build athletic shoes.

An avid sportsman himself, Adi knew there was a better way to equip track and field athletes than the foot wear that was currentlyavailable. He took surplus canvas material that was left over from the war and began designing spiked shoes so these athletes could keep their traction while running. Along with his brother Zehlein, who produced the spikes for his athletic shoes, Adi started manufacturing athletic shoes. In 1924, his older brother, Rudolf, would join him and his brother in the business. That is the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory was formed.

Even though his father wanted Adi to become a baker, manufacturing was in his bones. While his brother Zehlein made the spikes and older brother Rudolf performed all the administrative duties of the company, Adi loved spending his time designing footwear.

Adi would also spend a lot of time attending athletic events around Germany in an attempt to get athletes to wear his new shoes. In 1928, he and his brothers came up with a novel idea to promote their shoe business. Nearby Amsterdam was holding the summer Olympics. Since Adi had become so friendly with many of the local athletes that were participating in the games, many of them would wear his shoes during the competition. "The Olympics changed everything for my company," he would later say.

During the early years of his business, Adi concentrated on just track and field shoes, but the Olympics changed his business. By the 1930s, he and his brothers were producing 30 different brands for 11 different sports and had moved into a factory where more than 100 people worked producing these brands. However, the business did not really get international recognition until the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

According to the story, Adi drove from his little medievaltown to Berlin to meet with Jesse Owens, an American athlete. There he would take Owens a suitcase full of his spiked shoes and convince Owens to wear them during the games. As history already knows, Owens would go on to win four gold medals and propelthe DasslerBrothers Shoe Factory to international prominence. "Without Jesse Owens record-setting performance, our company would never have gained international popularity," Adi would later say.

However, trouble would come to the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory because of the problems brewing in Germany and around the world.

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