Last year we celebrated Adi Dassler’s birthday with cup-cakes at our headquarters in Herzogenaurach. Today I’d like to give you some insights into the life story of the man who gave adidas its name. By the way: Adi Dassler and cup-cakes…this is closer related to each other than you might think. Why?
Adi Dassler – the man who gave adidas its name
Adi Dassler – the baker? If it had been for his father, that is exactly what would have happened. Ironically, a shoemaker himself, Christoph Dassler foresaw a different path for his youngest child and when he had finished school, Adi went on to start and finish an apprenticeship in a bakery. Thankfully though, in the end, Adi got his way. After returning from World War I, the then 20-year-old followed his own dream. With his father’s support, Adi took over the family business and introduced the production of sport shoes.
In 1924, his older brother Rudolf entered the business and they renamed it “Brother Dassler Shoe Factory” (“Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik”). Only a few years later, the brothers took their products to the big stage: At the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, a young German athlete by the name of Lina Radke won the gold medal in the 800m race wearing shoes made by the Dasslers. And in 1936, Jesse Owens famously became the first African American athlete to win not one but four gold medals, all in Dassler shoes.
The rise to become the leading sports shoe manufacturer
During that time, Adi Dassler was already making 30 different shoes for eleven sports, and he had a workforce of almost 100 employees. In less than two decades, the company advanced to become the world’s leading sports shoe manufacturer.
After the end of World War II, the brothers ended their partnership and each went on to found their own company which, amazingly enough, would both go on to become two of the most successful and famous sports companies in the world.
adidas, a combination of Adi’s first and last name, was registered on August 18th, 1949, in Fuerth, Germany, near his hometown Herzogenaurach. With the help of 47 workers, Adi continued to follow his one guiding vision: To provide every athlete with the best footwear for his or her respective discipline. It was this principle that guided him right up until his death in 1978.
Covering all sports
adidas’ breakthrough came in 1954 when Adi provided the German national football team with a whole new type of football boot for the World Cup in Switzerland. But Adi Dassler did not stop there. Tennis, weightlifting, cross-country skiing, cycling, ski jumping, fencing, handball, marathon running, sprinting … there is hardly any sport for which he did not develop the appropriate footwear. 700 patents and other industrial property rights worldwide are proof of his permanent quest for perfection.
From the mid 1960s, adidas also started producing apparel for competition and training. Ball production began in 1963 with the so-called Telstar, and ever since 1970 the official matchball at all major football events has been an adidas product.
Adi Dassler was there for the company he brought to life, nurtured, pushed, and developed until the day he died. But the cornerstone of his success was the passion and drive he brought to work every day which still helps professional and everyday athletes in any discipline around the world achieve their impossibles today.