BY CARRIE BRENNER
The simple act of taking his dogs for a walk inspired Manfred Bogdahn to create
the first Flexi retractable leash
in 1972. Today, the product is
sold in more than 90 countries.
Bogdahn, CEO of Flexi Bogdahn
International in Bargteheide,
Germany, shares how, decades
later, his leash is still a symbol
Pet Product News: Tell us what inspired
you to create the Flexi dog leash and why
you decided to start selling the product by creating your company in 1973.
Manfred Bogdahn: I had two fox
terriers that I walked on a leash,
which required both hands to
control. I then came up with the
idea that the leashes could be
“rolled up” for better control.
As I worked for a chainsaw manufacturer at the time, I visualized the concept based on the
pull-start mechanism of a chainsaw. I built my first prototype
using the pull-start mechanism
housed in a wooden shell, and
that was the first Flexi.
Faced with the dilemma—
PPN: What was your background before
dog control or freedom of
movement—I wanted to cre-
ate something new so that you
could have it both ways. Flexi
retractable leashes let dog par-
ents walk their dog in a con-
trolled way while giving their
best friend freedom of move-
ment to discover his immediate
you created the Flexi leash?
MB: I had both a business and
technical training [background],
so I was involved in the development of all aspects of the
PPN: Tell us about Flexi’s commitment to
manufacturing the leashes in Germany.
MB: I am obsessed with quality and simply cannot imagine
maintaining my current quality standards in a country with
cheap labor. The reality in the
market confirms that leashes
from cheap-labor countries can’t
match Flexi’s quality.
Flexi manufactures exclusively in Germany with about
300 employees globally and is
privately owned. The average
tenure of employees is well over
PPN: Since its creation, many different
companies have marketed retractable
leashes. How has Flexi remained a leader
in this category over the years?
MB: Flexi develops and manufac-
PPN: Flexi leashes are considered a
tures retractable leashes, exclusi-
vely. The leashes were built with
branding in mind from the very
beginning. Through high-tech
specialization, Flexi has achie-
ved such a high level of “know-
how” and brand awareness that
its quality, functionality, and de-
sign are far and away above the
imitations on the market.
premium product and command higher
price points than more basic leashes.
How can retailers turn basic leash buy-
ers into Flexi customers?
MB: Retailers who allow the
point of sale to be furnished
with Flexi-brand display and
presentation are always more
successful. The presentation
makes the value of Flexi leashes
PPN: How does Flexi decide what styles
are fashionable and should be incorpo-
rated into its product line?
MB: Flexi solicits feedback from
both consumers and international designers.
PPN: Are you releasing any new products
MB: Flexi has recently underta-ken a relaunch of many of its
leash models. In 2017, all products are being introduced in
BEHIND THE SCENES
The Perfect Walk
One man’s love for dogs and obsession with quality led him to create a leash that
offers freedom of movement for pets and comfort for their owners.
created the first
Flexi leash by using
mechanism of a
housing it in
Flexi keeps tight control of its production
process by manufacturing the leashes
exclusively in Germany.