The multinational shoes, sportswear and clothing manufacturers Adidas and Puma entered this world as one, small company. It didn’t take long for the company to split and enter one of the most bitter business rivalries in recent history.
Adidas and Puma as one
In 1924 in Herzogenaurach in Germany, two brothers, Adolf and Rudolf Dassler started a small shoe business in their mothers laundry. They called their business Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory). The electricity supply in the town was not reliable and they had to use pedal power at times to keep their infant business operating.
War and conflict
The two brothers joined the NAZI party with Rudolf being slightly closer to the party than his brother. During a bombing raid in 1943 Adolf and his wife entered a bomb shelter that Rudolf and his family were already in. Adolf apparently said “Here are the bloody bastards again,” referring to the allies bombing the town, but Rudolf took it as being directed at him and his family. As the was ended Rudolf was captured by American soldiers and accused of being in the SS, and he was convinced that his brother had turned him in to the allied forces.
Adidas and Puma split
In 1948 the two brothers decided to split their business as the relationship between them had reached breaking point. Rudolf established Puma and Adolf started Adidas. The two companies remained in the town of Herzogenaurach and entered a bitter rivalry. It even turned the townsfolk on one another with people often looking at strangers feet to see which of the two companies they supported. Herzogenaurach even earned the nick name of “the town of bent necks” due to this local phenomenon.
The bitterness between the brothers would continue to their deaths. both brothers are buried in the same cemetery, as far apart as possible.