I’ve always appreciated Bosch power tools for their quality, performance, and durability, but I’d never really studied the history of the Robert Bosch Company. So to get a better idea of what makes this company so successful—and not just in the U.S., but also throughout the world—I’ve traveled to Europe to find out. I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany on Sunday, and then drove to Stuttgart, home of the company since the beginning 125 years ago.
On Monday, I visited the corporate headquarters of Bosch. It was very foggy and kind of drizzly, so I couldn’t get very good photos of the building, but you can see the entrance here. Unfortunately, that’s all I can show you from inside, as I was not allowed to take photos during my visit. I learned that the Robert Bosch Company is much more than power tools. About 60 percent of their total business globally is in automotive parts and components. Other big areas of their business are wind and solar energy manufacturing and technology, automation technology, packaging, heating technology, security systems, household appliances, and finally, power tools. I did get to see behind the scenes in Bosch’s research labs, but the stuff they showed me I’m not allowed to talk about. But trust me, it was impressive. They told me the company files for about 12 patents on new products or processes daily—that’s gettin’ it done!
Upon leaving HQ, I got an exclusive tour of Robert Bosch’s former home, which is now home to the charitable Robert Bosch Foundation. As you can see, the home is quite impressive (sorry, no photos allowed inside), as are the grounds, where there are oaks and walnuts growing that are reportedly around 300 years old. I also found a very unusual sycamore tree with lots of burls in the lower 10 feet of the trunk. I’ll be thousands of woodworkers would love to get their hands on that wood!
From there my Bosch tour guide took me to a contractor supply outlet to see how tools are displayed and sold here in Germany. It was interesting to see how Bosch had such a dominant amount of shelf space, especially with accessories, among competitive brands such as Festool, Makita, DeWalt, Metabo, and Milwaukee. And even though I knew this before, some of you might not: Bosch has a DIY line of tools here in Europe. That brand is labeled Bosch and many of the tools appear similar, but they’ve got a green color scheme that differentiates it from the professional blue line.
Tomorrow I’m going to Bosch’s main power tool facility here in Stuttgart to see what’s new, what’s coming, and what’s different from the U.S. market. Then it’s on to Switzerland to see some of Bosch’s manufacturing facilities. I’ll keep you posted, so check back daily.