How the Lego Group came to be
Lego Group is a children’s toy brand from Denmark, known worldwide. Founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Christiansen, the company is still a family business.
The story of the brand began in 1932 when carpenter Christiansen, his wife and four sons moved to the Danish town of Billund during the Great Depression. The family had previously lived in various places, including Germany. But the loss of work forced the family to return to their hometown. Here Ole opened a workshop to make stairs and other wooden products, but the business was fragile. Another blow came when his wife died, leaving him alone with his children. To stay afloat, Christiansen decided to produce children’s toys, which were in great demand. The goods quickly found their customers, and Ole took on his 12-year-old son as an assistant. In time, the workshop staff grew to 6 people, and it was time to come up with a name for the company. Christiansen suggested Lego, an abbreviation of the Danish words for “play” and “good”.
The rise of Lego
The company’s products were in demand, and the range continued to expand. By 1936, Lego could offer 42 different types of toys. The number of employees grew steadily, reaching 40 in 1943. The turning point in the brand’s history came in 1947 when Christiansen saw toys from the British company Kiddicraft. They were building blocks of different sizes, which you could join together. Ole then decided to try to make similar toys in his factory, but the elements were not as strong as Kiddicraft’s. This was because the British products were made of plastic and had unique posts for fastening, while Lego produced wooden blocks. Christiansen realised that it was necessary to move away from the old materials and bought an injection moulding machine to make plastic toys.
Although Ole is the founder of the company, the real heyday of the business came under the leadership of his son Godtfred. He helped his father build up the company from 12 and took over as vice president in 1950. It was Godtfred who decided to combine the building blocks into a system, giving the product range a new look:
– the company introduced construction sets in 1953;
– two years later, Lego introduced its toy world. It included 28 sets and eight car models;
– in 1958, the company patented a unique fastening system consisting of a tube and a hollow hole.
By that time, Ole had died, and Godtfred took over the company. He then split the product line, making the Lego brand for constructors and Bilofix for other toys.
By 1962, the company was well known in Europe and began supplying its products to the US market. Since then, Lego has continued to develop, withstanding crises and difficulties.