Ken Wood was brought up in Chelsfield in Kent. Aged 14 he joined the merchant navy for five years, after which he studied electrical engineering and accountancy at night school. A year later, in 1936, he set up his own company, Dickson & Wood, selling, installing and repairing radios and televisions.
After the Second World War he set up an electrical firm, Woodlau Industries, with wartime colleague Roger Laurence, starting production in 1947 with a toaster and then the A200 food mixer - the predecessor of the Kenwood Chef which was launched in 1950. It was the 'Chef' which brought Ken Wood immortality - the first highly desirable, albeit luxury, appliance to enter kitchens after the war. The mixer's enormous success was as much a result of Wood's passionate and persistent marketing techniques as his innovations in terms of functionality. Sensitive to stylish design, Wood's motto 'Eye appeal is buy appeal' rocketed the mixer to the top of wedding present lists all over the country.
Successfully penetrating the critical dollar markets, Wood was a millionaire at 38, selling more than 10 million 'Chefs' before parting company with Kenwood Manufacturing Co. Ltd. in 1968 after a hostile and successful takeover by Thorn Electrical Industries Ltd.