Ingvar Kamprad sold matchbooks and fresh fish from a bicycle as a teen, expanded the idea into a crude mail-order-by-milk truck-delivery business, and then used a good-grades bonus from his father to found IKEA at age 17. Today, IKEA’s 260+ stores in 44 countries earn over $18 billion annually and employ more than 100,000 people.
Kamprad was born 1926, the same year as Miles Davis and Mel Brooks.
Ikea was founded in Sweden in 1943 by Kamprad. His concept for IKEA was to provide functional, attractive products, affordable to the masses, by creating a sort of market partnership: IKEA provides the concept and the raw materials, and the consumer provides their own time and labor. Thus the very unique motto," We do our part, you do yours. Together we save money."
IKEA’s first resale products included watches, jewelry and stockings.
Kamprad switched entirely to furniture sales in 1951.
Opened his first showroom in 1953.
In 1965, so many people attended the opening of IKEA’s Stockholm flagship store – modeled after the Guggenheim in New York – that the company opened the warehouse and encouraged customers to help themselves. The concept became integral to the IKEA concept.
Kamprad immigrated to Switzerland as a tax exile in 1974.
IKEA’s products are specifically designed to fit in flat packaging, making transport and storage easier on both stores and customers. The technique has been mirrored around the world by IKEA’s competitors.
Kamprad’s books The Furniture Dealer’s Testament and The Little Word Book have been compared in style to the teachings of Martin Luther and Chairman Mao.
IKEA’s “assemble-it-yourself” philosophy cuts costs, but is also designed to give the customer a sense of self-sufficiency and self-satisfaction. "The idea is that you do half," Ikea's PR manager Shirley Jones told the Guardian newspaper. "We will supply you with the design, the inspiration, the knowledge and the basic tools; your responsibility then is to go home, build it and use it."
Kamprad was an indulgent alcoholic for 30 years. He still drinks, but “dries out” several times a year, and recommends the practice to others. “There are a lot of people in Sweden in my condition,” he says. “I have to clean out my kidneys and liver, and they should do the same.”
Kamprad always hugs his “co-workers” upon arrival at a store.
He flies economy class, detests business suits, and is often found dining at common-class restaurants.
The letters “IK” in IKEA represent Ingvar Kamprad. The “EA” stand for the farm and the village where Kamprad grew up, Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd, respectively.
Kamprad shares the trait of dyslexia with many other prominent people, such as Alexander Graham Bell
and Leonardo da Vinci
It is estimated that 10% of Europe’s current population were conceived in an IKEA bed.
When IKEA opened stores in Britain, where consumers expect to be pampered, the company purposefully offended the public with ads encouraging Brits to “throw out your chintz,” and featuring the armpit-sniffing “Tattooman.”
Unlike most American stores – where you’re encouraged to lose track of time –
IKEA stores feature clocks throughout to encourage frugal usage of time.
IKEA once ran a “make a fresh start” ad campaign encouraging people with dysfunctional marriages to get divorced.
He doesn’t use his only car, a 1993 Volvo, much – he prefers a city bus or the subway.
In 2006 Kamprad was estimated to be worth $28 Billion. He shares a place on Forbe’s list of the World’s Wealthiest People with the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, five members of Sam Walton’s family, and computer guru Michael Dell.