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History Of Samsonite Luggage – 100-Year-Old Innovative Giant

Who is Samsonite? What is the history of Samsonite luggage? Let’s look at this innovative giant who is over 100 years old and still going strong. This article will give us a comprehensive look into the iconic luggage company that spans the years and is stronger than ever. 

Jesse Shwayder (1882–1970) founded Samsonite luggage on March 10, 1910, in his Colorado home, under the name “Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company.” Jesse was a strongly religious Jewish man who named pieces of his luggage after Samson from the bible. The luggage pieces called “Samsonite” sold so well that in 1965 the company changed its name to “Samsonite.”

Chronology Of The History Of Samsonite Luggage

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Brotherly Expansion And The History Of Samsonite Luggage

Four other Shwayder brothers joined Jesse in his luggage venture between 1912 and 1923. The first brother to join Jesse was Maurice, who traveled with Jesse to promote the luggage. By 1923 all four brothers were on board; Sol was the attorney, Mark was the sales force, and Ben and Maurice were in the manufacturing end of the business. 

Ten-plus years into the luggage business, things were booming for the Shwayder brothers. The family home was no longer large enough to house their business, so they acquired a warehouse to manufacture their luggage. Long after the death of Jesse Shwayder on July 25, 1970, the Shwayder family home was deemed a historic landmark which took place on February 10, 2019.

Read Next: What Is Luggage And How To Choose The Best For Your Trip

Principles And The History Of Samsonite Luggage

During the early days of Samsonite luggage, their competition was stiff. Many other luggage manufacturers had strong financial backing and monopolized the market. Jesse was aware of this and developed his bags on the principle of durability, quality, and dependability. He didn’t attempt to undercut his competitor; instead, he charged more for his product based on better materials and strength. And it worked because just before the great depression of 1929, the company was booming.

The Great Depression And The History Of Samsonite Luggage

The stock market crash of 1929 was an unfortunate twist for the Shwayder brothers. Their business suffered and nearly went under, but with their resistance and determination, they manufactured other things to stay afloat. At one time, they made card tables that outsold their luggage sales. 

During the WW1 and WW2 in the 1940s and 1950s, the brothers used their factories to produce needed war materials. When that time ended, they resumed their production of innovative and durable luggage. 

LEGO Toys And The History Of Samsonite Luggage

From 1960 to 1970, “Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company,” later known as “Samsonite,” began manufacturing the LEGO by Samsonite toy and 50 + other new toys. Although this venture was a great hit, it did not do as well as luggage, so in 1972, they stopped the manufacture of toys. 

Samsonite Name Change And The History Of Samsonite Luggage

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Because of Jesse’s religious background, he named a few of his luggage pieces Samsonite after the biblical person named Samson. In the bible, Samson is well known for his strength, and Jesse wanted to convey that strong character in his business and luggage. In 1965 he changed the name of “Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company” to Samsonite to reflect the strength and durability of his product, which remains today. 

The Purchase Of Samsonite In The History Of Samsonite Luggage

 During the great merger and acquisition period of the 1970s, Beatrice Foods purchased Samsonite in 1973. Samsonite was to operate independently but under the umbrella of Beatrice Foods. Although this merger was supposed to benefit Samsonite, the company began to suffer. 

So in 1983, Beatrice took control and employed Malcom Candlish to rebuild Samsonite into the giant it was. Malcolm did just that with his experience and reputation in the industry. 

He revamped the company from the ground up, laying off employees and rehiring a whole new workforce. He studied and surveyed what the world wanted in luggage, produced “the world’s greatest garment bag,” and put Samsonite back on the map. With the help of Clandlish, Samsonite was bringing in over $300 million in revenue by the end of 1986. 

Samsonite’s Success And Acquisitions Within The History Of Samsonite Luggage.

By 1995 Samsonite was again an independent company. By1997, Samsonite was pulling in over $741 million. Their innovative ideas and strong attention to durability and quality paid off but not without some problems along the way.

New leaders were introduced to the company over the years to revamp and restructure the world of luggage. Samsonite was put back on top as the most influential luggage company of all time. Samsonite began its own acquisitions of other luggage companies and has continued to thrive.

Read Next: Samsonite Checked Luggage – 8 That Focus On Quality

The History Of Samsonite Luggage – Conclusion

 Samsonite is the world leader in luggage production and innovation today. One person, Jesse Shwayder, wanted to start a business and, with the help of his 4 brothers, turned it into an icon.

It wasn’t without problems or an overnight success. It was the result of hard work, strong morals, and keeping up with consumer demands. Not only is Samsonite an incredible company, but so are you, the consumer. You helped them grow over 100 years to become what they are today.

Happy travels, my friends.

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Laura Fuller

My name is Laura Fuller, I am a fanatic about luggage and all types of travel. I will be your luggage pilot to help you make the right choice for your travel needs.

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