An ingenious family - Hansgrohe's company history

The Hansgrohe Group company history

Pioneering work in the Black Forest

Master clothier Hans Grohe (1871-1955) was an innovator. In 1899 he moved from Luckenwalde near Berlin to the small Black Forest town of Schiltach. Two years later he turned his back on weaving and established a metal pressing workshop. Hans Grohe had a passion for the element water, and so from 1901 onwards he bravely hedged his bets on the sanitary sector, which was still in its early stages of development. Of course bathrooms in private houses were only just becoming fashionable at that time. He specialised in tin showers, thus laying the foundations for untold success. During the course of the 20th century, Hans Grohe’s small three-man operation in the Kinzigtal valley developed into a global company. Today it is one of the international innovation and market leaders for mixers and showers.

When showering became popular or: a German success story

By the mid-20th century in Germany, for broad segments of the population it was still sheer luxury to have their own bathroom. Hans Grohe considered the shower an affordable alternative to the bath. It was part of the product range in his metal pressing plant from the outset. And in the decades to come he devoted himself passionately and painstakingly to developing his showers further. In doing so he proved that he had a good nose for business – and shaped shower culture far beyond the borders of the Black Forest.

From 1928, Hans Grohe’s hand shower became a convenient alternative to the then customary overhead shower. Hans Grohe became a shower specialist and pioneer for the German sanitary industry. For many decades his craftsmanship and design set the trends. Even as an 82-year-old, this visionary invents something trend-setting: the wall bar, to which the hand shower can be attached at the desired height. Today it is common in bathrooms all over the world – in 1953 it was a stroke of bathroom genius.

Would you like to find out more about the Schiltach think-tank inventions? Here you will find Hansgrohe's innovation history – milestones in craftsmanship.

Like father, like son or: an innovative family

Throughout all its generations, the company has had a true passion for water, the elixir of life. The founder’s youngest son, Klaus Grohe (*1937), has played an active role in his father’s company, from 1968 up to the present day. As a “Green Mind” (Financial Times Deutschland), Klaus Grohe is becoming the sanitary industry’s mentor on issues of environmental protection and sustainability. He promotes water-saving, energy-saving products just as vehemently as he promotes environmental protection and resource conservation in manufacturing. Klaus Grohe has managed the now globally-operating company for 33 years. Since 2008 he has presided over the Hansgrohe SE Supervisory Board.

Please don’t confuse Hansgrohe SE from the Black Forest with Grohe AG from Hemer in Westphalia. Even though both companies are active in the same sector, they have little in common. The competitor has not had a Grohe on board for years.

The situation is very different at Hansgrohe: more than a century after the company was founded, descendants of the South German shower pioneer are still actively contributing to the company’s success. Today, two of Klaus Grohe’s sons are continuing the family tradition: since 2008, Richard Grohe (*1965) has been Deputy Chairman of the Board and has overseen the Hansgrohe brand. His brother Philippe Grohe (*1967) manages the Axor brand. 

Today, in addition to the direct descendants and family members of founding father Hans Grohe, the following people govern the destiny of the company: our Supervisory Board and Executive Board.

Today, this bathroom and sanitary specialist employs over 3,500 workers, on every continent. A good two-thirds of these work in Germany. In the small Black Forest town of Schiltach, bathroom history is still being written: Hansgrohe in facts and figures.

  • In 1901 Otto Johannes, known as Hans Grohe (*1871 in Luckenwalde near Berlin), founds the company in Schiltach.
  • A Black Forest weaver recognises the signs of the times, becomes a bathroom pioneer – and shapes shower culture.
  • In 1909, a factory building is built onto the Grohe family home in Auestraße, Schiltach.
  • The sanitary business in Schiltach is growing: by 1910, twelve manual workers, one office clerk plus the family members.
  • Hans Grohe’s early masterpiece: hand shower with porcelain handle (1928) – the good, flexible shower for enjoying the sensation of water.
  • Hans Grohe and his sons: in 1934, Hans Junior (driver) becomes an authorised representative. His brother Friedrich is his pillion partner.
  • The family business is growing: company founder Hans Grohe with his son Klaus (*1937) on his arm (photo: 1938).
  • Klaus Grohe with his sons Richard (left) and Philippe (centre) in 2007.
  • Klaus Grohe hands over part responsibility: In 2008 Siegfried Gänßlen became Chairman of the Executive Board of the Hansgrohe Group.