When it all started - The Story of F. Bülow & Co. ApS
On January 30th. 1880 F. Bülow opened his first shop in Varde a small town in Jutland.
The shop sold all sorts of hardware and household items. In 1890 bicycles of the, at the time famous brand Styria, a 2 wheel machine with chain drive, were added and after that the business developed quickly. The premises in Varde grew too small and the firm moved to Copenhagen and real expansion began. The main business was still bicycles but motorcycles were added in 1901 and in 1904 the first car was sold.
In 1906 the company placed an order for 6 Ford cars and became the sole agent for Ford Motor Company in Denmark. Business grew and until the mid-twenties 20.000 Ford cars were sold, mainly the model T.
Spare parts and accessories came naturally into the range. There were electric selfstarters, extra lights, odometers, electric horns, over-drive gears, Daimler-like radiators and shock absorbers but also flower vases and ashtrays in crystal glass.
A lot of development also went into customising the standard Ford T, and one of the items on offer was a lowering of the body to achieve a sports- racing look and improve handling.
From 1913 Bülow was the agent for Goodyear tyres and shortly after the co-operation with Champion Spark Plugs started. A co-operation that is still an important part of the company’s business today.
In 1914 F. Bülow took his oldest son C. A. Bülow and his son inlaw F. C. Jacobsen into partnership. In the mid- twenties the co-operation with Ford stops from one day to the next and Bülow started working with General Motors. The first brands were Chevrolet and Buick and a year later Oldsmobile and GMC.
The new head office is on Toldbodvej where new showrooms are later added to make room for the growing business.
To get an idea of the size of the growing car market: After an exhibition in the spring of 1926 no less than160 new cars were delivered in one day.
In the mid-twenties the wiper blade as we know it today was invented by the founder of Trico and Bülow became sole agent shortly after.
Vauxhall and Bedford were added to the range of GM brands in 1932.
In 1922 Bülow delivered the first of many cars to the royal Danish court. The picture shows a Cadillac from the early thirties with a raised roof to enable King Christian X to wear a top hat inside the car. In 1949 the company was appointed supplier to the royal court, an honour that they still have.
The 1930’ties brought financial hardships, but the situation for Bülow is reasonable. In 1936 a completely new and very modern service centre is opened by the then prime minister Th. Stauning.
From this period stems the co-operation with Redex additives, a co-operation that was later expanded to cover Holts and Simoniz brands.
The Second World War stopped a lot of the traditional business but gas generators and fuel such as peat and wood became part of the business and the bicycles came back.
After the war the car business slowly got back to normal and also the imports of spares and accessories.
Oil filters became standard on many cars and Bülow became agent for Fram filters and at a later date also Fiaam filters form the same supplier.
When the new management, the third generation, takes over in 1947 times are difficult but in 1950 the wheels are beginning to roll again and Bülow becomes agent for Vespa scooters. A distribution system covering the country is quickly established and during the next 18 years over 40.000 scooters are sold. In 1954 the Danish Veteran Car club is founded with B. Bülow-Jacobsen on the board and Bülow takes on the job of restoring the Hammel car, a Danish built car from 1880.
The premises are growing too small again and in 1961 most of the activities are moved to Bryggervangen in northern Copenhagen where all aspect of the business could be carried out in a 20.000 square meter customised building. Sales of spares and accessories are growing but car sales are stagnating. In 1964 the spare part department is computerised with one of the first punch card systems in the trade.
In 1967 the stagnation of car sales leads to the closing of that part of the business as well as the repair shops and the company concentrates on spares and accessories.
The present owner Jan Bülow-Jacobsen joined the company in 1968 and is made a partner in 1972 as the 4th generation. In the following years the number of product lines is extended. Britax child safety seat in 1984, Defa car heating and alarm systems in 1986 and Kamasa tools in 1991.
In 1991 the company moves to its present location in Hedehusene just outside Copenhagen. The company’s 10.000 part numbers are handled in an optimal way and the growth of lines continues. Thule roof rack systems in 1992, Westfalia towing hitches in 1997. InPro styling products and CP air tolls in 2000. Clarion car audio products are added in 2002. Ring and Boss audio in 2003. In 2004 König snow chain is added to the portfolio. Thomas Bülow-Jacobsen starts working in the business in 1999 as the 5th generation after having worked in the U.K. and Germany. The present staff of 25 employees, focus on flexibility market awareness and good trading practice. Coupled with the company’s old motto: Competence, Integrity, Helpfulness, F. Bülow & Co is well prepared to continue its role as a major player in the market – in some years under the management of the 5th generation. Thomas Bülow-Jacobsen is on the way to take over part of the business, as part of a gradual change of generation.