Family Affair: Rise of the Mittelstand

flexi – Bogdahn International

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Name: flexi – Bogdahn International
Founded: 1973
Location: Bargteheide, Germany
Employees: 300 +

Founded in 1973 by Manfred Bogdahn – who remains CEO to this day – flexi is the inventor and world's leading manufacturer of the retractable pet leash.

An archetypal Mittelstand, flexi does one thing, but does it incredibly well. Its success has seen the company receive a host of distinctions – from being recognized as a Brand of the Century by German Standards to multiple consumer awards internationally – and allowed it to export to more than 90 countries worldwide.

Resolutely German and family owned, flexi – which employs over 300 staff – manufactures all its leashes in Bargteheide, near Hamburg. Thousands are produced every single day, and are assembled by hand. "Each model... goes through more than 90 checks before leaving the warehouse," according to the company.