“Weighing up” the options and moving from scales to trolleys

Wanzl stories (part 1)

When Rudolf Wanzl senior took up self-employment on 5 May 1947, the company’s was described in the commercial register as a “workshop for the construction of scales and provision of repair services”. This was a clever decision at the time, as direct contact with his clientele – 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 the small, new company to achieve success, a happy stroke of fate meant that the family was able to move seamlessly into a completely new business area that had not yet caught on. The NCR National Cash Register company was seeking a supplier to produce metal shopping baskets for a model supermarket.

The NCR director Mr 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, he found a mentor in Mr Wegner, 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 bug for supermarkets and discounters. 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 hope you will forgive this wordplay, given that the company is now a global player...