Without Mads Clausen and Danfoss, Nordals would look very different today. A few years after the Second World War, Mads was asked how big the factory would be: “A couple of thousand employees,” he said.No one – not even Mads – could have imagined that Danfoss would be even bigger.
The company really made its mark when it started to experience serious growth in the early 1950s. An empty plot of land became an entire town of purpose-built flats, something which was unheard of outside of the major cities. Detached houses, schools, nurseries and shopping centres soon followed. This development was aided by donations from the company’s various foundations and support schemes, and in the early 1960s Mads Clausen financed a local authority preliminary structure plan drawn up by Professor Peter Bredsdorff.
Close personal ties
The very first employees were people who lived locally and who Mads knew personally. Many of the early years were characterised by employment relations often being based on close personal connections. A similar approach could be seen in relationships with foreign distributors, who were treated like members of the family whenever they visited the factory. These close personal ties were also reflected in Mads helping and offering support wherever it was needed.
A true embodiment of this spirit was Mads Clausen’s wife, Bitten. She was involved in operations at Danfoss at an early stage and had a major impact on the company’s staff policy.Her main focus was on helping those who were in hardship and she did her utmost to treat all the employees with dignity and respect.
Danfoss was one of the very first Danish companies to introduce social support schemes for employees in difficulty, in addition to offering training and sick pay. Bitten Clausen set up a Staff Welfare Office that kept track of anniversaries, births and deaths in employees’ families. Free tuberculosis tests were offered after the Second World War, and in 1955 Danfoss hired its own company nurse. The company then acquired its own ambulance, which is still running today. Before this relief work became an official part of the organisation, it was Bitten herself who would come to the rescue.
“I drove out to where I’d heard people were having difficulty. I was happy to be able to help. I felt for people whose children were being confirmed or something like that who didn’t have clothes for them to wear.”Bitten Clausen
In the post-war years, Bitten often visited Nordborg to buy clothes for families who could not afford to clothe their children themselves. Bitten later hired an entire floor of the Daells Varehus department store in Copenhagen once a year to distribute clothing to needy families with children in Nordals, and she herself played an active role when the support packages were being given out.
All of this charity work had Mads Clausen’s full support, and took place with a high degree of modesty and humility. Bitten never liked to cause a stir.
New inroads in the spirit of our founder
Shortly after Mads Clausen’s death in 1966, the staff magazine Ventilen wrote: “He made his mark on his motherland through what he created. He acknowledged all those with whom he came into contact. Everyone owes him something, both as a community and individually. Either for the educational influence of his clear and simplified approach to problems, or for the results of instances where he followed his heart and displayed magnanimity.”
He entered this life and gave security to those around him, and he has passed this legacy on in such a way that this security still continues after his death. He looked to the future, and Danfoss will look with him, fully prepared to make new inroads in the spirit of our founder.”Extract from Ventilen, the Danfoss staff magazine (1966)
The Bitten & Mads Clausen Foundation
Bitten and Mads’ desire to make a positive impact at Danfoss, on existing Danfoss employees and potential employees, as well as the local areas where Danfoss operates, is the real basis of the work done by the Bitten and Mads Clausen Foundation today.
Bitten reached the grand old age of 103 and died in 2016. Throughout her life, Bitten did what she could to promote social responsibility. There is no doubt that she made a big difference to the community in the Danfoss neighbourhood and among the company’s employees. By establishing the Bitten & Mads Clausen Foundation and the Fabrikant Mads Clausen Foundation respectively, she ensured that the family’s spirit and vision would continue into the future.
Danfoss Historical Archive keeps an archive of the 80-year history of Danfoss. At the Danfoss website, history is kept alive through pictures and stories from the archive.