Read about what happened both in the world and Isabella since Søren Odgaard founded Isabella in 1957.
”Some may say they could have done it better.
Some will probably also say that would have done it differently.
But I did it my way.
And if I hadn’t done it, it may never have been done at all.”
Founder of Isabella
It all started in the 50’s. Along with the 50’s came televisions and transistor radios. We learnt how to ride mopeds and scooters. More and more people owned cars – and some owned caravans too – and we learnt a new expression: Traffic chaos. We also learnt new words such as Sputnik and The Treaty of Rome. In the town of Vejle in Denmark, a man called Søren Odgaard sells his business in order to turn a completely new word – camping – into his new career and, among other things, start a tent hire company. Wealth is on the up and more and more people prefer to own than rent, so Søren Odgaard starts production of the cottage tent Capri.
The 60’s brought telephones into most households. Owning your own house also became a possibility for many. A whole new music culture arrived along with the Beatles; young people suddenly had money to spend, they made demands and rebelled. Men were no longer sole heads of household, women went to work too, so families could afford both a house and a car. New fashions came and went and status became something that could be bought in the shape of status symbols. In Vejle, Søren Odgaard builds new headquarters – at Isabellahøj – and in 1961 the export of cottage tents to Norway begins. Søren Odgaard starts selling caravans and in 1964 the first awnings are put in to production. He also invents the A-measurement system.
In the 70’s we wore bell-bottoms and were either Disco-dudes and divas or underground radicals... listening to Pink Floyd, Deep Purple or Suzi Quatro on our ever popular Walkman.
The 70’s also brought us the first VHS film. Then along came the economic crisis and we learnt new words such as Car-free Sunday. The pocket calculator moved mental arithmetic from our heads to our pockets. Cool cash was substituted by cheques, which among other things were being used to buy more and more caravans. In Vejle, Isabella extends its business again and founds its first foreign sales company in England. A decision is made to drop cottage tents and concentrate on awnings. The largest awning is named after the success: Super Giant. The camping trend grows larger and larger and becomes more demanding on quality and durability. Cotton is therefore substituted in 1975 by acrylic sides and polyester-lined roof as seen in, for example, the jubilee model from 1977, Olympia Acryl.
The 80’s saw the arrival of the Discman and a new mutated species of turtle - Ninja Turtles. Quiches and fondue became the new food fads. We listened to Wham, Abba, Madonna and Michael Jackson. You were either a punk rocker or wore multi-coloured disco-gear. Big hair, bigger is better, we were taught to Think Big. Yazz sang The Only Way is Up... The Berlin Wall came down. Offices start using computers and paved the way to world supremacy for a whole new industry: the IT-industry. In Vejle things were going really well. The whole production of 1980 was already sold in 1979. There are now more than 100 employees and in 1982 the super success Ambassador is born. It was also in the 80’s that Isabella founded sales companies in Holland and Norway. In 1985 the pole manufacturing company Campion supply a completely new type of pole made out of fibreglass, making life easier for caravanners. This is when Isabella also launch the largest ever awning yet on the market: Penta.
Along with the 90’s came the birth of the internet and all that it brought with it. Another child of the nineties, Dolly the cloned sheep, entered a brave new world with new technology and new gadgets. Films were now available on DVD. There were more and more cars on the road, music blaring from car stereos, Aqua, Metallica, U2 and Mariah Carey. Denmark became European Football Champions and Isabella became European awning champions. Isabella opens an office in Germany and in order to meet the increasing demand they attain extra capacity by purchasing a rival company. In 1999 the range is extended in order to meet the demands of the more discerning caravanners as well as the new generation of price conscious customers on the road. The first group have Isabella. The latter get a whole new range of possibilities with the new brand: Ventura.
A new millennium dawned, carrying us into the so-called Noughties. Bill Clinton made it easier for us to find our way by opening up the GPS signal and Wi-Fi helped us towards fewer cables to trip over. Our travels are also made easier by a bridge between Denmark and Sweden. Our musical travel mates, like Pink, Britney Spears and Rihanna, accompany us as MP3 files and we learn new words such as streaming, and the advanced user may even be able to pause a television program. With the launch of Facebook in 2004, so began the world’s greatest reunion of school friends, family members and colleagues. The first iPhone arrived in 2007 and we learnt new words such as app and selfie. On the way into the year 2000 Isabella starts co-operating with a company in Poland that can meet the high demands on quality and ensure production for the increasing demand. The founder of Isabella, Søren Odgaard, was awarded the Danish Camping Industry Honours Award in 2003. Sadly, he died in 2005 – 82 years old – just a few years before the Golden Jubilee of his life’s work. The same year sees yet another extension of Isabella at Isabellahøj and yet again Isabella brings something completely new to the market: Carbon-fibre reinforced fibreglass frames.
In 2010 Google Street View enables us to go on a virtual sightseeing trip around town. In 2013, Denmark wins the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Only Teardrops. Not many teardrops for Isabella’s flourishing business though. New products are constantly released in order to meet the demand from the new generation of “fifty-going-on-twenty-somethings” who want to be in contact with nature and other caravanners all year round. Isabella is also increasingly active on social media. Lots of useful films, Facebook pages, an Isabella Innovator App etc. ensure continued contact and dialogue with what it is all about: Caravanners and outdoor living at Europe’s campsites. Within the company, Isabella Academy compounds team spirit and development, and 2013 saw the launch of the ”Time for Life” project, that makes camping a good break for disadvantaged families. The brand new Prisma awning is launched and Isabella quality accessories become an increasing business.
Isabella in the future
And the future... well it’s hard to tell. But we listen to the words of Søren Odgaard: “I did it my way. And if I hadn’t done it, it may never have been done at all.” We do it our way. We keep curiosity and ingenuity alive and do things that wouldn’t otherwise be done. We think along new and different paths. That way we can take part in shaping the future and influencing development. As a market leader we will always be a step ahead… our success is built upon the fact that we know what the caravanners of tomorrow will be looking for… and once in a while, we also show them things they haven’t yet realised they want. That’s what Isabella has been doing since 1957.
Isabella - best traveling companion for 60 years...
Isabella - best traveling companion for 60 years...