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  Q: Rudolf Dassler: founder of sporting goods company Ruda (Puma)

  A: updated (02/02/2017)

Rudolf Dassler, brother and business partner of Adidas founder Adolf Dassler, founded his own sporting goods company in 1948: named Ruda. Rudolf founded his company a year before his brother Adolf Dassler founded his own company (Adidas). Rudolf Dassler named his company Ruda by combining the first two letters from his first name and surname. Adolf 'Adi' Dassler copied his brother by combining the first three letters from his first name and surname.

Rudolf Dassler, the founder of puma in 1948.

Due to the feud between the two brothers - they had previously been business partners - Rudolf did not want his brother to copy how his company name was devised, and decided to rename his company to: Puma Schuhfabrik Rudolf Dassler. Ruda was founded in 1948, and was located in Herzogenaurach; a small town where the Dassler Brothers had owned a shoe factory and where Adidas were also based. However, Rudolf moved his company north of the Aurach River, whereas Adidas would initially be located on the southern banks of the Aurach River.

The acrimonious split and feud between the two brothers provided the fuel to drive Adidas and Puma to compete and become global sports brands. The Dassler Brothers shoe factory - which operated from 1924-1948 - was a highly successful sports good company and produced over 100,000 pairs of shoes a year. Dassler Brothers shoes were worn by prominent athletes at the Olympic Games; such as Jessie Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Adolf Dassler was the design genius behind the company, and Rudolf Dassler was the businessman who organised and marketed the brand.

When the Dassler brothers founded their own companies in 1948 and 1949, they both lacked a skills set. While Adolf Dassler's wife and son would take over Rudolf's role of organising and marketing his shoes, Rudolf needed to find a designer to create his footwear. Adidas and Puma primarily manufactured footwear in the 1950's and 1960's. The first Puma football boot was named the "ATOM", and members of West Germany's football team wore the boot in 1950. In 1952, Puma developed the “SUPER ATOM”, the first football boot with screw-in studs.

While Rudolf lacked the design genius of his brother (Adolf), it did not stop him from employing designers that helped Puma become the first company to develop a vulcanisation production technique for shoe soles. Lutz Backes designed the 'jumping cat' logo for Puma in 1967, and Pele endorsed Puma products throughout the 1960's and 1970's. Adidas and Puma competed to persuade sports celebrities to wear their footwear at global sports events. Puma, under Rudolf's management, persuaded the following sports celebrities to wear Pumas: Pele, Herbert Burdenski, Armin Hary and John Akii-Bua.


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