Ole Kirk Kristiansen is interested in all forms of new technology, which can improve quality and rationalize production. His attention to new technology, tools and machinery, new materials and processing methods, is also obvious when it comes to innovative thinking in his own company. He has the gift of imagining other possibilities – an ability his immediate family occasionally view with some skepticism.
Ole Kirk Kristiansen buys his first milling machine in Germany in the mid-1930s, an expensive piece of equipment. He pays DKK 3,000 for it. At the time, by way of comparison, a house costs between DKK 4,000 and 5,000 so it is a massive commitment. The sum he pays for the machine equals one-third of the company’s total profit the previous year.
Irrespective of the price of the milling machine, Ole Kirk Kristiansen is in no doubt about the investment; the machine will raise the quality of wooden toys. Prior, the wood is cut with a coping saw to patterns made by Ole himself.
Introduction of the new machine explains why the wooden duck has the shape with which we are familiar: the milling machine can produce more rounded edges and these rounded edges make the toy safer for children to play with.
Ole Kirk Kristiansen knows that the milling machine will not just improve the quality and safety of the finished toy, it will also raise productivity. Purchase of the machine enables employees to increase their daily output of toys.
The Company motto
The words “Only the best is good enough” are Ole Kirk Kristiansen’s motto for the company, echoing his years as a quality craftsman and his attitude to quality and finish. The motto continues to apply in the company to this day.
The motto is cut in beechwood on the milling machine and hung up in the factory by Oles son Godtfred Kirk Christiansen. Godtfred machine-cuts the motto after his father orders him to fetch and varnish a consignment of wooden ducks which Godtfred Kirk has taken to the station – after varnishing them only twice instead of three times as Ole Kirk demands. “That taught me a lesson about quality,” says Godtfred Kirk Christiansen on a later occasion.
Although Ole Kirk Kristiansen has invested in a milling machine, much of the work in manufacturing toys is still done by hand. For example, painting and varnishing.