Founder of Ikea Retail Stores
Why Ingvar Kamprad?
Does the name Ingvar Kamprad mean anything to you? To most people it doesn’t and it's a testament to the fact that he built up a brand that is so powerful people recognize it immediately, while not tying it into, or even knowing, the genius behind it. The brand? IKEA!
The reason why we chose this business leader is simple, Ingvar Kamprad is a businessman and the founder of IKEA with an estimated worth of $22.5 billion dollars. Kamprad was born in the south of Sweden in 1926 and raised on a farm called Elmtaryd, near the small village of Agunnaryd. He is a great leader and one amazing thing about him is that he went into business early in life, selling matches as a schoolboy and also, very wisely for his age (or any age for that matter) Kamprad took his profits and used them to expand his operations, adding to his small line of goods with decorations of Christmas trees, fish, and seeds. He was learning the operational side of retailing, and he was learning it quickly and profitably.
When Kamprad did well in school, his dad rewarded his with some money, and that was the seed to launch a company he named IKEA. He got the name from his initials I.K., and then added the EA from the name of the farm and the town he was raised in - Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd.
Don't think the idea of a furniture company was brewing in the mind of Kamprad with his new company, he still focused on smaller items, and for the most part look to the business of securing contracts of supplying pencils.
Like in his younger years, Kamprad soon began to expand into all sorts of other areas, including everything from jewelry to male and female accessories. He soon outgrew individual visits to customers and went into the mail order business on the local level, having the milk trucks deliver his products to his customers.
When Kamprad first included furniture as part of the product line of IKEA, his idea was to use local manufacturers to keep costs low and under control. That was in 1947.
By 1951, furniture sales were so successful, he decided to drop all other products and focus on the furniture line alone. The first furniture showroom opened in 1953, and the rest is history.
Almost immediately a price war started between IKEA and its chief competitor, and the inclusion of the showroom helped sway potential customers who were able to see and touch the quality before making their purchases.
Like many great retailers, Kamprad was obsessed with controlling costs, and dedicated to finding new ways to do things at a less expensive level. That has been one of the major reasons behind the ongoing success of IKEA furniture sales and profits.
Some people attempt to point out the fact that Kamprad has several properties he owns and so the frugal image is contrived. I have to disagree with that, because the reason he can afford some of these things is because he remained frugal within the construct of his company, and so because he was able to put of instantaneous gratification, could then do whatever he wanted once he became wealthy.While there is some truth to the image part, it was also very much practiced by Kamprad.
Many people think being frugal is being cheap in a negative way, and yet those best at it are the ones that serve their customers and employees at the highest level by giving customers the best deals possible, while at the same time offering longevity to employees.
The best definition that reflects the idea of leadership for Kamprad is “Leadership is a kind of activity meant to influence behavior, beliefs and feelings of the group members in a certain direction.” (Wright, Peter L. and Taylor, David S. Improving Leadership Performance. Great Britain: Prentice-Hall International Ltd; 1984. p. 2).
As Peter F. Drucker said “The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say “I.”...