Abbiamo visitato la fabbrica di Vorwerk: molto più che "l'azienda del Folletto" thumbnail

We visited the Vorwerk factory: much more than “the company of the Kobold”

In the frenetic world of technologies, where new players appear and disappear within a few years, few companies can boast of having maintained a stable position of prestige and quality. Among these, the one that has most managed to create an aura of esteem and reputation on the part of consumers is certainly Vorwerk. In case this name doesn’t turn on any bells, know that Vorwerk has given life to the renowned products of the Kobold and Thermomix.

Reading this last line, we are sure, whatever your age, that a light bulb has gone on in your head. We have all, indirectly or indirectly, dealt with these two products at different stages of our lives. Whatever your approach is (or was), we are also certain that the comments and experiences of friends and relatives had one word in common: “quality”.

Vorwerk’s aura is indeed not an illusion but the result of years and years of loyalty of millions of customers all over the world. Just this year, the company has reached its 140th anniversary and U.S we were invited to visit their European operations center in WuppertalGermany, to find out more about their history, politics and future.

The “factory” of the Kobold and the Thermomix

vorwerk leprechaun 1

Long before the Kobold, Vorwerk was founded, come on Fratelli Carl and Adolf VorwerkIn the 1883 under the name of Barmer Teppichfabrik Vorwerk & Co as a carpet and then loom company. The revolution in the supply chain took place in the first post-war period when the company began producing electric motors for gramophones. Hence, the flash of genius to exploit that same motion to create the Kobold Model 30, the company’s first vacuum cleaner. Product sales reached record numbers as the direct sales model began; i.e. the mythical “representative of the leprechaun” that demonstrates the wonders of the product at home.

As you certainly know, this sales model still exists today and is one of the characteristics that distinguishes the company from the rest of the market. But how can a sales method of this type be successful even in 2023?

To answer this and our other questions, he thought about it Thomas Stoffmehl, CEO of Vorwerk, whom we met during our visit. Our curiosity about the “represented at home” method certainly didn’t surprise him, on the contrary he stated several times that the market has repeatedly confirmed that the direct sales model would soon disappear. “Today we are still here,” he said Fabric flour with some enthusiasm, revealing that already in the first half of 2023 the sales of Kobold and Thermomix, Folletto and Bimby for us Italians improved compared to the previous year. An excellent result that still aims to improve with the launch of the new version of the Kobold VK7s (which we will discuss later in the article).

A company like no other

vorwerk leprechaun 2

Vorwek therefore made a point of stating that the direct sales system is one of the company’s essential assets. The delicate mix of skilled salespeople, customers and retention of these, represent the basis of that attention to people which characterizes the company and which has allowed us to create a real “Community“. This matters 100,000 people in charge of demonstration and sales (of which 20,000 in Italy), over 9,000 employees and millions of customers around the world. The end customer is also part of the company community and is truly placed at the center of Vorwek’s thinking.

The entire direct sales machine moves precisely for him to demonstrate, without filters, the potential of the devices, their efficiency and their use. By establishing a “personal” relationship with the seller, it is possible to meet the needs of the seller by taking into account their decision-making times but also their ability to approach technology. An attention that very few companies, especially in the tech field, can boast.

This attention is also reflected in the final quality of the product and in the production process. For obvious reasons, we were unable to photograph the factory where the Kobold or Thermomix is ​​physically built, but it helped us understand a lot about the company’s thinking policy. The quality, resistance and durability over time are the masters. The speeches of “planned obsolescence” to which the tech world has us (unfortunately accustomed) are far away. A Vorwerk product is made to last, both with the build quality and with the possibility of repairing and replacing any elements.

“The Dance of the Goblins”

Although at a marketing level this could prove to be a mistake that would not allow the continuous replacement of new models (just think of how many “new” smartphones are presented every year), Vorwerk gains in loyalty and word of mouth.

The attention to the product is reflected throughout the company’s production line, from the simplest plastic parts to the most complex ones such as engines. These and the production of the supply chain, which we can imagine, are flanked by all those more, if you like, scenic areas of research and development that have amazed us. Among these we find the room dedicated to testing the performance and resistance of vacuum cleaners, romantically called “The Dance of the Goblins”. A very fitting name when you think of the dozens of Imps that constantly move back and forth in constant operation for about 1000 hours. This process pushes the engine to its limits and helps show engineers whether they are “dancing” in the right direction.

To this is added the camera anecoica, a large room covered with sponge spikes and designed to reduce the reflection of sounds on the walls as much as possible. This, combined with an array of microphones, will help identify and reduce the power of the vacuum cleaner motor to bring you to market with a truly exceptional product.

A look into the future: the new Kobold robot vacuum cleaner from Vorwerk

The element that most surprised us, spoiled by an idea of ​​the “old school” company, was theextreme modernity of Vorwek. We are facing a company in constant evolution not only from a technological point of view. Attention to the customer is in fact added to that of the environment, an extremely hot topic (it must be said) in recent years. The entire production line takes place in Germany, from the plastic parts that create the body of the device, to the packaging of the finished product and each element has at least a percentage of recycled material. Even the environment surrounding the factory benefits from Vorwek’s policy which has managed, despite its factory nature, to have a very low impact on local flora and fauna.

As anticipated, too attention to technology is the basis of their success, maintaining the traditions of a strong brand but still looking to the future. This has led to the birth of the new version of the VR7S Kobold robot cleaner and its modular composition which also houses the Leprechaun wireless VK7s. The two devices share the same charging base for both and emptying for the cleaning robot.

The latter is a robot vacuum cleaner (not washing) of floors and has improved the performance of the previous model (the VR300). The robot maintains the now canonical D shape designed to clean corners in the best possible way but now boasts new lateral sensors that follow the trend of the wall. We also find a LiDAR turret useful for mapping the home area, tracking your position and getting the most out of the dedicated application.

Vorwerk, more than “the Kobold company”

In a few hours Vorwerk has managed to extricate itself from all those prejudices that have influenced us millennials (and not only) on the Kobold and Thermomix world. We now have a new idea of ​​the brand, a constant company over time but never standing still, solid in its convictions but always with a logic and its own vision that distinguishes it from all the other companies in the sector on the market.

Walker Ronnie is a tech writer who keeps you informed on the latest developments in the world of technology. With a keen interest in all things tech-related, Walker shares insights and updates on new gadgets, innovative advancements, and digital trends. Stay connected with Walker to stay ahead in the ever-evolving world of technology.