When Rudolf Wanzl senior took up self-employment on May 5, 1947, the company’s designation in the commercial register was “Workshop for the construction of scales and provision of repair services” (“Werkstatt für Waagenbau und Reparaturdienste”). This was a clever decision at the time, as direct contact with his clientèle – mainly consisting of butcher shops – was a guaranteed way to feed the family in those times of “payment in kind”.
While major manufacturers of scales made it increasingly difficult for small and younger companies to achieve success, a happy stroke of fate meant that the family was able to switch into a completely new business area that had not yet been occupied. The NCR National Cash Register company was seeking a supplier to produce metal shopping baskets for a model supermarket.
NCR director Wegner took a strong liking to Rudolf Wanzl junior and even briefly employed him in the company – though Rudolf Wanzl felt that he was not born to be an employee. However, in Wegner he found a mentor who – alongside this first order – gave him many new and important business contacts and inspired his passion for the self-service business.
During a journey to the USA, also made possible by Mr. Wegner, Rudolf finally caught the supermarket and discounter bug. Back in Leipheim he focused all of his attention on the design and production of functional, high-quality shopping baskets and shopping trolleys, and so, after “weighing up” his options, it was not long before Rudolf moved “a-weigh” from scales to shopping trolleys! We will allow ourselves the wordplay, given that the company is now a global player...