(Disclaimer: This article is based on my internet research, some small parts of it may not be 100% accurate.)
If I tell you that you have a free chance to purchase shoes of any 5 brands, which brands will you choose?
I am sure you have selected Adidas and Puma along with other brands on your favourite list.
But why am I so sure about Adidas and Puma?
Because we all know that Puma and Adidas are known for best comfort and style, today Adidas and Puma are the two biggest footwear and clothing brands in the world, we can trust blindly on their products.
But do you know Adidas and Puma are brothers? The founder of Adidas is Adolf Dassler “Adi” and Puma founded by Rudolf Dassler “Rudi”. They were actually brothers.
Once upon a time, these two brothers ran a shoe company together and at that time they gained huge popularity with their shoes.
If this is true, then why did they leave each other and what was the need of the two brothers to create two separate companies that are the top 2 shoe brands in the world today? Let’s simply know the story behind Adidas and Puma brands.
I’m sure that today you will learn something new from the biography of Adolf and Rudolf Dassler.
Ok, let’s start.
Rudolf “Rudi” Dassler was born on 26th March 1989 and Adolf “Adi” Dassler was born on 3 November 1900 in Herzogenaurach, German Empire into a poor family.
They were total 6 members in the family. His father, Christoph Dassler was a shoemaker in a little shoe factory whereas his mother, Pauline Dassler ran a laundry service in a small room for extra money and the name of their daughter is Marie Dassler.
They also sold homemade slippers to supplement their income.
After completing their studies Rudolf and Adolf joined with his father to become a shoemaker.
The Early Days:
When World War 1 had begun, both brothers became young. And in order of PM of Germany, youths of the country had to join the army. For that Adolf and Rudolf had been called.
After finishing World War 1 ( 28 Jul 1914 to 11 Nov 1918 ) both brothers came back to their home safely.
The result of World War I impact the economy and made the lives of the cobblers difficult.
After then, they decided to grow up their father’s business.
How they started:
They have a huge interest in sports and they were very good sportsmen but whenever they used shoes to play which was made by his father, they felt very uncomfortable.
( That time people used the same type of shoe on every work.)
They thought that how people can play with this kind of shoe?
Then Adolf Dassler “Adi”, elder brother of Rudolf Dassler “Rudi” had started to making sports shoes for others. From the beginning, he had a clear vision that ‘one day his shoes will be the most comfortable shoes for every category like sports shoe, casual shoe etc.’
In the initials days, Adolf “Adi” faced a variety of problems, sometimes working area makes a problem or sometimes electricity became the main issue.
But he wasn’t that kind of person who stopped for problems. He fought up and moved towards his goal.
You will be shocked after knowing that in the initials fays Adolf Dassler could not afford a decent working area, so he turned the back of his mother’s laundry into a small shoe factory.
Not only that,
During those times, there was a huge problem with the electricity, the supply of electricity was very poor and unreliable, Often the electricity would go off, so he often used to power his machines by connecting them with a stationary bike.
Adolf ‘Adi’ used to generate electricity by pedalling the stationary bike.
What a genius man!
He didn’t only make sports shoes, he always experimented with the shoes. One of an experiment was adding metal spikes to the shoes.
In July 1924, his elder brother, Rudolf ‘Rudi’ joined the business.
Rudolf Dassler was two years elder than Adolf Dassler and gained good work experience as he previously worked well in a porcelain factory and a leather enterprise in Nuremberg, Germany.
Gradually their products reached the customers and everyone started liking to wear their shoes.
And after some time Adolf and Rudolf launched a new company called Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory (Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik).
The Turning Point:
This is where their real story begins, I call it the real part of the story because the real success of their business came at the 1936 Summer Olympics exactly 12 years after the company started.
The 1936 German Olympics played an important role in the history of world sports, even in the lives of Adolf and Rudolf.
A few days before the start of the Olympic Games, Adolf put a proposal to the Sprinter Jesse Owens (the best runner of that time) that he would take part in running by wearing their factory-made sports shoes, and luckily Ram accepted that proposal.
In this way Sprinter Jesse Owens became the first brand ambassador of Dassler Brother Shoe, this opportunity was no less than the greatest success of their company.
And in that Olympics, Jessey Owens won a total of four gold medals. His great success introduced the Dassler Brothers shoes to famous players all over the world.
And as a result, team coach around the world began ordering Dassler Brothers shoes for their players. Soon the name of the Dassler brothers shoe began to spread around.
The company’s operations accelerated, and before World War II they sold about 200,000 pairs of shoes every year worldwide.
The Brothers Became Their Biggest Enemies:
As time went on, the two brothers joined the Nazi party in Germany, but Rudolf maintained close contact with the party, which Adolf did not like at all.
During World War II, the growing distance between the two brothers was broken in 1943. Misunderstandings were increasing badly and acting as a wall in the middle of their relationship.
After losing the war to the Americans, Hitler committed suicide, and American troops captured the suspects who were supporters of Hitler.
Eddie and Rudy were called in for this action. Eddie somehow survived by showing proof of helping the Olympic player Jesse Owens but Rudolf was detained for a year.
While in detention, Rudolf got to know that someone close to him had leaked information to the U.S. military about his connection with a political party.
His suspicions first went to his brother ‘Adolf’ and this led to a big quarrel between the two of them, when he came home after his release, a quarrel started between their family as well.
As a result of this feud, they split their business in 1948. Dassler shoe company turned into two companies, Adidas and Ruda.
Adolf Dassler created his own sports company called Adidas. The word ‘adi’ of Adidas comes from the first two letters of Adolf and the word ‘das’ comes from the first 3 letters of Dassler.
His older brother Rudolf Dassler created his new sports company called Ruda, like his brother he chose the word Ruda by selecting two letters of his first name and two letters of his surname. A few days later, Rudolf changed the name of his company from ‘Ruda’ to ‘Puma’, because the name ‘Ruda’ didn’t sound like a sporty name.
Both brothers were so busy competing among themselves that they did not see any third party as their competitor.
One of the funny facts is, the quarrel between the two brothers involved their families as well as the people of the Herzogenaurach town because the location of their two brother’s company was 500 meters away and a large population of the city worked for their company. That is why there were frequent quarrels between the employees of the two companies.
Even when the people in Herzogenaurach were talking to each other, the first thing they noticed was whether they had Adidas or Puma shoes on their feet. And that’s why Herzogenaurach was called the neck-bending city.
They both had business ideas from the beginning so they started to expand their business and they started to sell Clothes, Watches, Bags, Sports accessories along with Soes.
Rudolf Dassler died on 27th October 1974, and Adolf Dassler passed away on 6th December 1978, four years after the incident.
Although there were some problems in the company after their death, but their next-generation defeated them and forgetting their hostility they rebuild their old relationships.
Over time, today at Adidas and Puma become the two largest sportswear companies in the world. Today the whole world has become a fan of their products. As you can see today, players in almost every sport mostly use their products.
So friends, did you see? How the 2 sons of a little shoemaker have created two big sportswear companies in the world today by their own will power.
Isn’t it inspiring?
I’m sure that you have learned a very good lesson from this story.
This story will make you think that
“Nothing is impossible if intentions are strong”
The Bottom Line:
This is the main story of the success behind 2 big sportswear brands Adidas and Puma.
In this article, I’ve shared the biography of 2 brothers: Adolf Dassler and Rudolf Dassler. The fun fact is the “how they got started” part of the story of these brothers inspired me the most to write this story.
Which part of this story inspires you most? Let me know in the comment section.
Now it’s your turn to tell the inspiring story of Adidas and Puma to others.
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Thanks for visiting. Ta-Da!