When Swedish Furniture Makers Boycotted Ikea, Kamprad Found Furniture Makers in Poland

(p. A9) To encourage frugality in his workers, Mr. Kamprad was happy to offer himself as an example. He was known for reusing tea bags, flying economy class and taking public transport to airports. Even as a billionaire, he dickered over vegetable prices at farmers markets.

“Wasting resources is a mortal sin at IKEA,” he wrote in a guidebook for employees. “We do not need fancy cars, posh titles, tailor-made uniforms or other status symbols.”

He knew about global supply chains long before they were the norm. Rival retailers in the 1950s pressured Swedish furniture makers into boycotting the disruptive IKEA. So Mr. Kamprad visited Poland in the early 1960s and found primitive factories that, with training and tools from the Swedes, could make wooden furniture at much lower prices. (One problem: Some trees harvested in Poland still contained bullets from World War II.) Poland and China became two of the company’s main suppliers.

. . .

He assured his employees they had a noble mission: helping the masses afford comfortably furnished homes.

For the full obituary, see:

James R. Hagerty. “IKEA Founder Built Retailer by Keeping It Simple.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018): A9.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Feb. 2, 2018, and has the title “Ingvar Kamprad Made IKEA a Global Retailer by Keeping It Simple.”)

James Knott Exposed the EPA’s Doctoring of Water-Test Results They Used to Indict Him

(p. A9) James Knott helped build a better lobster trap.

Though the world didn’t beat a path to his door in Northbridge, Mass., Mr. Knott eventually persuaded most manufacturers of lobster traps to use his product—plastic-coated wire mesh—rather than wood to make their devices.

. . .

He built a business, Riverdale Mills Corp., that employs more than 150 people and has withstood price competition from China and a 1997 raid by pistol-packing agents of the Environmental Protection Agency. Then came an indictment alleging Mr. Knott violated the Clean Water Act by dumping acidic wastewater. He fought back, providing evidence that the EPA had doctored water-test results. The charges were dropped.

“What am I supposed to do—lay down and get stomped on?” he asked in a 2001 interview with the television news show “60 Minutes.”

. . .

When he was indicted by a federal grand jury in the water-pollution case in 1998, Mr. Knott faced a possible prison term of six years. He hired a retired FBI handwriting analyst, who found EPA test records had been altered to show an illegal degree of acidity in the wastewater. The government soon dropped its charges.

Mr. Knott fought a long and ultimately fruitless battle to require the government to reimburse him for his legal costs.

For the full obituary, see:

James R. Hagerty. “Entrepreneur Helped Create a Better Lobster Trap.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Aug. 24, 2018): A9.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date July 27, 2018, and has the title “James Knott Pioneered Modern Lobster Traps and Fended Off the EPA.”)