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Alfred Kärcher, like Robert Bosch, Gottlieb Daimler and Graf Zeppelin, was one of the inventors and entrepreneurs that Württemberg produced in such great number since the beginning of the industrial era. With the utmost commitment, he dedicated himself to bringing his ideas to fruition. In 1924, the then 23-year-old completed his studies at the Technical University of Stuttgart and worked first of all at his father's agency, which he developed into an engineer's office. In 1935 he founded his own company in Bad Cannstatt, Stuttgart so that he could produce and market his own products in the field of heating technology. Alfred Kärcher designed and built the "Kärcher salt bath furnace", among other products, for tempering steel and light metal in industry according to his own patent.
In 1939, the family-owned company relocated to Winnenden, where it still has its headquarters. By this time the company was also producing heating devices for aircraft engines and cabin heating systems. Following the Second World War, the company turned its attention to products for urgent, everyday use: round stoves, small cookers, handcarts and trailers for tractors.
Alfred Kärcher made his breakthrough into the cleaning technology industry in 1950 with the development of the first European hot water high-pressure cleaner (the DS 350 steam jet). The design of the water heater proved to be so pioneering that it still forms the basis of all burners today.
Like so many, Alfred Kärcher did not live to see the global success of his innovation. When he died on 17 September 1959 at the age of 58, his wife Irene took over the management of the company and steered its fortunes for three decades. Today their children Johannes Kärcher and Susanne Zimmermann von Siefart are in charge of the family-owned company in its second generation.
In 1962, Kärcher founded its first foreign subsidiary in France, followed by Austria and Switzerland. Internationalisation continued apace. In 1975, Kärcher opened a factory in Brazil; 10 years later, the company had founded 16 sales companies in North America, Africa, Australia and elsewhere. By 2012, Kärcher was represented by subsidiaries in 57 countries and generating 85% of its sales abroad. With 40,000 customer service points in over 190 countries, Kärcher provides comprehensive support to its customers all over the world.