Brita

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Bongarts | Bongarts | Getty Images

Founded: 1966
Location: Taunusstein, Germany
Employees: 1,182

Founded in 1966 by Heinz Hankammer, Brita started small: according to the company, its first products were made by hand in Hankammer's garden.

Things have changed a little since then. In 1970 the company - named after Hankammer's daughter - patented 'the first water filter for domestic use', and today employs 1,182 people.

Brita's water filter products are available in more than 60 countries and in 2013 the company reported turnover of 332.5 million euros ($420 million).

In 1999, Heinz Hankammer became president of the company. Today his son, Markus, is CEO.

"Brita discovered a market niche almost 50 years ago, created the relevant market for it and has continued to develop this steadily," Markus Hankammer, pictured, told CNBC.com in an email.

"Innovativeness and expertise in such a clearly defined product niche is the first ingredient in our recipe for success." Hankammer added that over 80 percent of Brita's turnover comes from exports.