SMEG was founded by Vittorio Bertazzoni from Guastalla, a town near Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, and is today one of the country’s leading home appliance manufacturers. The Bertazzoni family’s entrepreneurial history begins way back in the 19th century.
Starting out as blacksmiths, the Bertazzonis soon branched out into building cookers.
In the second half of the 1950s, Smeg launched one of the first gas cookers with an automatic switch-on function, an oven safety valve and cooking programmer/timer. In 1963, the laundry and dishwasher range was launched and soon produced a world first in 1970: a 60cm, 14 place setting dishwasher.
For Hans Liebherr, the impetus behind new areas of business is sometimes derived from personal contacts. From the branch manager of his local bank, the businessman learns about a refrigerator-making factory that is for sale.
By examining the product, the sales figures and the markets, Liebherr recognizes the enormous potential of appliances. At this time, only one in every ten households in Germany has a refrigerator – and with the economy growing, demand is on the rise.
Hans Liebherr decides not to buy the company but instead builds his own production facilities at the Ochsenhausen site in Southern Germany.
In 1954, the first refrigerator is built there and series production begins just one year later.