90 years of the uvex group: Fürth-based family company is celebrating its 90th anniversary
In line with its philosophy of “protecting people”, the family-owned company based in Fürth has been synonymous with the best-possible protection for sports, leisure and industrial workplaces for 90 years. Having grown from its small workshop beginnings into a global company, uvex is today one of Germany’s major international brands.
90 years of uvex! When the champagne corks start popping at uvex’s headquarters in Fürth to celebrate the company’s anniversary, not only will old friends from business and politics be raising their glasses, so too will professional athletes including Felix Neureuther, Natalie Geisenberger and Severin Freund. These top performing athletes have been placing their trust in the latest uvex technologies and product innovations as they participate in international competitions.
From Poppenreuth to the whole world
uvex's success story started in a small workshop in Poppenreuth on the outskirts of Fürth in 1926. This is where the company founder Philipp M. Winter made his first pair of safety goggles, which were elaborately crafted by hand. Demand for his products soon extended beyond labourers and craftsmen. Philipp M. Winter equipped different athletes with goggles for the first time at the 1936 Winter Olympics. In 1938, German mountaineers climbed Nanga Parbat in the Himalayas wearing glacier goggles made in Fürth.
1956 was the year in which the uvex brand was born. After living in the USA, Rainer Winter, Philipp’s son, joined the company and coined the "uvex" name, based on the quality seal for lenses – ultra violet excluded. Rainer Winter had recognised that a successful product needs a prominent brand and effective brand management. He subsequently drove forward the internationalisation and diversification of the company.
The sporting success of Alpine skiers wearing uvex goggles in the 1970s and 1980s raised brand awareness and helped uvex establish its international reputation. The family-owned company has expanded and now sells its products all around the world. Alongside sport, industrial health and safety has remained a key pillar of the company’s success, as it developed from a safety eyewear specialist to a brand systems provider of personal protective equipment (PPE) from head to toe.
From 1999 onwards, Michael Winter gradually assumed ever more responsibility for the uvex group, as the third generation of the Winter family to be Managing Partner. At the time, the company generated sales of EUR 180 million with 1,500 employees. Today, the multi-brand group employs more than 2,300 staff at 42 subsidiaries in 19 countries worldwide, with total sales of EUR 387 million in the 2014/2015 financial year. The course has been set for long-term business succession with the involvement of the fourth generation.
Leader of innovation from Bavaria
The uvex group’s company history has been shaped by its own innovative developments. Starting with the first safety and ski goggles in the 1930s and the first anti-fog ski goggles in 1964 (uvex champion) to the development of the lightest industrial safety spectacles in the world in 2006 (uvex super g weighing just 18.7g), uvex has proven its impressive innovative strength time and again. Current solutions such as the revolutionary variotronic® technology for ski and cycling eyewear or the new i-gonomics product system, which combines traditional safety features with ergonomics, underline uvex’s claim to be a leader of innovation in the sports and industrial health and safety markets. Despite the international orientation, the uvex group has remained true to its location in Germany. In addition to the headquarters in Fürth, 90 years on, the majority of uvex production plants are still in Germany or elsewhere in Europe.
The uvex group
The uvex group brings together three globally active companies under one roof: the uvex safety group, the uvex sports group (with uvex sports and Alpina Sports), and Filtral. The uvex group is represented in 22 countries by 48 subsidiaries but chooses to do most of its manufacturing in Germany. Two thirds of the company’s 2.300-strong workforce (as at 31 July, 2015) is employed in Germany. uvex is a global partner to international elite sport and equips a host of top athletes. The motto protecting people is at the heart of the company’s activities. uvex develops, manufactures and distributes products and services for the safety and protection of people at work, in sport and for leisure pursuits.