One of the key aspects to the continual success of a business is it’s ability to adapt and change. The following are perfect examples of this.

Originally starting out in completely different areas, these well known companies saw the opportunities as they presented themselves and changed to meet them.

Who know’s what happened if they didn’t. We might be buying reams of paper at Tiffany’s… or worse still, it might not exist at all…

10 Companies That Started Out Completely Different

1. Tiffany & Co.

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In 1837 New York became the proving ground for 25-year-old Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young, who opened a “stationery and fancy goods” store with a $1,000 advance from Tiffany’s father. The store initially sold a wide variety of stationery items, and operated as “Tiffany, Young and Ellis” in Lower Manhattan. The name was shortened to Tiffany & Company in 1853 when Charles Tiffany took control and established the firm’s emphasis on jewellery.

2. Wrigley

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In 1891, William Wrigley, Jr. was selling necessities like soap and baking powder, when he noticed a rather curious trend: The sticks of gum he was giving away for free as incentives were proving more popular than the merchandise itself. Wrigley Jr. quickly directed his prodigious energies toward producing his own line of gums. Wrigley Jr. is also remembered as the father of modern advertising, coining the familiar maxim “Tell ’em quick and tell ’em often.”

3. Nokia

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When Finnish Engineer Fredrik Idestam set up his initial wood pulp mill in Southern Finland in 1865, he took the first step in laying the foundation of what Nokia would turn into. In the 1960s, Nokia became a conglomerate, comprised of rubber, cable, forestry, electronics and power generation businesses resulting from multiple mergers and it is here when they became serious about phones.

4. John Deere

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John Deere was a blacksmith, frustrated by the lack of ability ploughs had to cut through the area’s tough clay. He invents and patents the idea of building ploughs out of cast steel, creating the farm supply empire that still exists today.

5. Avon

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David H. McConnell was a travelling book salesperson and offered beauty products as an additional perk to his female customers. He saw that these women were more interested in the free perfume samples than the books – and that many of them stayed home while their husbands went off to work.

Since women had a passion for his products and loved networking with other women, McConnell was inspired to recruit them as Sales Representatives. From a small New York City office, McConnell himself mixed the company’s first fragrances. Thus, in 1886 Avon was started.

6. Hasbro

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In 1923, three brothers named Herman, Hillel and Henry Hassenfeld founded Hassenfeld Brothers, a company that sold selling textile remnants. Over the next two decades, the company expanded to produce pencil cases and school supplies until 1940, when Hassenfeld Brothers produced doctor and nurse kits, its first toys, becoming primarily a toy company by 1942 and having it’s first ‘Smash Hit’ with Mr. Potato Head in 1952.

7. 3M

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What was born as a small-scale mining venture in 1902 has grown into a global powerhouse but the 5 founders original aim was to harvest a mineral known as corundum from a mine called Crystal Bay. Over the years the fledgling company turned to other materials and other products, building up sales little by little. Technical and marketing innovations began to produce success upon success. Today’s 3M is responsible for 60,000 products used in homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and more.

8. DuPont

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In 1802 E.I. du Pont was founded by Éleuthère Irénée du Pont) in Delaware to produce black powder and later other explosives, which remained the company’s main products until the 20th century. In the 20th century, DuPont developed many polymers and today, the company is the fourth largest chemical company based on market capitalization.

9. Colgate

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In 1806, William Colgate started a soap, candles, and starch business with the company only going on to first produce toothpaste in a jar, in 1873. Today Colgate-Palmolive are one of the most recogniseable brands in the world.

10. Coleco

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Coleco (COnnecticut LEather COmpany) was founded in 1932 by an immigrant Russian shoemaker called Maurice Greenberg, in New York, USA. Maurice started out by selling leather supplies to shoemakers. His son Leonard was fascinated with manufacturing and they moved into plastic moulding in the 1960’s, selling off the leather supply side of the business. Then, another Greenberg – Arnold, steered them down the path of electronics in 1976 and more specifically video games, where they have continued to operate since.

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