|Founded||2 January 1935|
|Key people||Hartmut Jenner (Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Management Board)|
|Products||Cleaning equipment and full cleaning systems|
|Revenue||EUR 1.92 billion (2012)|
|Employees||more than 10.000 (August 2013)|
Alfred Kärcher GmbH & Co. KG is a family-owned company that operates worldwide and is known for its high-pressure cleaners and window vacuum cleaners. Headquartered in Winnenden, Germany, it produces both cleaning equipment and full cleaning systems. The world market leader in cleaning technology, employs more than 10,000 people worldwide. In 2012 the company posted sales revenues of EUR 1.92 billion and sold 10.83 million machines. Kärcher has 100 subsidiaries in 60 countries.
The inventor Alfred Kärcher (1901–59) from Baden-Württemberg founded the company in 1935 in Stuttgart Bad-Cannstatt. Initially Kärcher specialised in the design of industrial submersible heating elements, i.e. in salt smelters which were heated with immersion heaters. After numerous experiments, a hardening furnace for alloys was produced, the so-called “Kärcher Salt-Bath Furnace”. Some 1,200 units were sold up to 1945. After developing Europe’s first pressure washer, the DS 350, in 1950, the company’s main focus switched to cleaning equipment for professional and private users. Since then, Kärcher has made significant contributions to the development of pressure washers. The company’s product range was expanded and now covers the entire field of cleaning (sweepers, detergents, scrubber-driers, wet and dry vacuums, vacuum cleaners, battery-powered brooms, steam cleaners, dry ice blasting equipment, parts cleaners, water treatment systems, vehicle washes and wastewater recycling systems). Kärcher also offers pumps and watering systems.
In 1974 the corporate colour was changed from blue to yellow. From that year, under the leadership of Alfred Kärcher’s widow Irene Kärcher, the company concentrated on manufacturing pressure washers. In 1984 it launched the HD 555, the first pressure washer for private users.
Today the family-owned company, which is based in Winnenden near Stuttgart, is represented in 60 countries with 100 subsidiaries all over the world, selling commercial cleaning equipment as well as cleaning equipment for the private consumer.
Kärcher owns the American brands of Landa, Hotsy, and Shark pressure washers, Cuda parts washers, Watermaze water treatment systems, ProChem and Windsor floor cleaning systems.
In some countries such as Germany, United Kingdom, France, Poland, Georgia or Mexico, United States Kärcher is now colloquially used as synonymous with a cleaning system using high-pressure water, used to clean cars, outdoor equipment etc.
French politician Nicolas Sarkozy once declared that La Courneuve, a banlieue outside of Paris where a boy was killed by a stray gunshot, would be "cleaned out with a Kärcher" (nettoyer la cité au Kärcher) — meaning all criminals and other undesirables should be removed and washed out. This comment was highly controversial, as many French associate the banlieues with immigrants, especially North Africans.
Sarkozy's use of the word led to it becoming a verb: "to Karcher" or "Karcherize". Presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen told residents of Argenteuil, many of them immigrants, "If some want to Karcherize you, to exclude you, we want to help you get out of these ghettos." As a response, Kärcher France sent a letter to all of the candidates in the 2007 presidential election asking them not to use the company's name this way, and has run ads in newspapers disassociating itself from the remarks.
Under its cultural sponsorship programme, Kärcher has supported more than 90 projects to clean internationally prominent buildings such as the Space Needle in Seattle (2008), the Presidents’ heads at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial (2005), the Colossi of Memnon in Luxor (2003), the Colonnades on St Peter’s Square in Rome (1998), the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (1990) and the Statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro (1980). In 2011 it cleaned the Loreley open-air stage and the N Seoul Tower. Kärcher is also a partner of SOS Children’s Villages and a member of the UN Global Compact network.
- "Information about Karcher WV50 Plus Window Vacuum". www.karcherwindowvacuum.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-16.
- Bernard, Ariane (April 19, 2007). "Name of High-Pressure Washers Maker Is Drawn Into French Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
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