Over the years, Swiss Made’s success and positive impact was made possible only with the support of its numerous partners. Soon, Swiss Made will be available in 12 languages, covering the vast majority of potential readers around the globe. While continuing to publish new language versions based on the needs of our supporters, we are shifting into a mode of periodic revisions to keep the content updated and fresh. This also opens up the possibility of including additional Swiss success stories in the collection.
To support the growing movement, we are undertaking numerous complimentary activities. Amongst other initiatives, we feature lectures by prominent people on themes relevant to all of us and share publications raising the awareness of Swiss achievements in important journals throughout the world. Therefore, we are converting our model to a modest annual contribution to support our ongoing activities.
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We hope that the importance of our objective and our record of achievement justifies your support. Together, we can ensure that Swissness, Switzerland and your company get the best possible representation and promotion under the Swiss Made brand around the globe.
The name ‘Schindler’ can be seen on elevators and escalators all over the world. Founded as a family business by Robert Schindler in 1874, in the mountainous and picturesque Lucerne region, the company has been led since 1977 by the fourth generation, Alfred N. Schindler, Luc Bonnard and Alfred Spörri (now retired).
Today, Schindler moves a billion people daily worldwide. Like other Swiss companies, Schindler started as a small fish in a big pond. As Alfred Schindler, the chairman, points out: ‘Minnows must be outstanding, different and faster if they are to succeed.’ Only players who constantly set new benchmarks themselves can survive.
With only a tiny home market, geographical expansion has always been a key factor in Schindler’s success. Its first subsidiary outside Switzerland was founded in Berlin in 1906; a factory in St Petersburg followed in 1913; and operations were extended to Brazil in 1937 and to Hong Kong in 1976. In 1980, Schindler established the first industrial joint venture by a western company in the People’s Republic of China. The company now employs more than 58,000 people in over 100 countries and is a global provider of elevators, second only to Otis, the US-based industry leader. As of June 2018, Schindler was valued at CHF 23bn on the Swiss stock exchange, a stunning increase since 1980, equivalent to a compound annual growth rate of 15%. There is a telling joke in the industry about the name ‘Otis’. It is said to stand for ‘Our Trouble is Schindler’.
An important pioneer of the Swiss chocolate industry was Rodolphe Lindt. He produced the world’s first smooth chocolate using a grating and rolling machine called a conch. The machine gave the chocolate a soft, melt-in-the-mouth consistency, instead of the gritty, crumbly quality that had characterised chocolate hitherto. The story goes that one Friday night the 24-year-old Lindt forgot to turn off his water-powered stirring machine for the weekend. On Monday morning he returned to find a mixture so fluid that it no longer had to be squeezed laboriously into the moulds. This is one of many examples where so-called serendipity, or fortunate discoveries made by accident, has defined and propelled Swiss industrial development.
Having stumbled on this important innovation, the commercially astute Lindt kept his mixing secret concealed for 20 years. He sold his chocolate on commission to Jean Tobler, a Bern confectioner, playing his production-method cards close to his chest. Lindt squeezed the commission Tobler earned so far that Tobler set up his own factory, taking the customers with him. Having previously turned down every offer of merger or joint venture, the now struggling Lindt sold his business in 1899 for CHF 1.5m to Chocolat Sprüngli. This was the basis for the largest Swiss chocolate company still in independent hands – Lindt & Sprüngli – which has eight production plants of its own in Europe and the US and sells its products in over 100 countries. The company later separated again; Lindt & Sprüngli is publicly listed, and Sprüngli is privately held and managed by members of the family, Tomas and Milan Prenosil.
Born in 1908, Leo Sternbach, a Polish Jew, fled the Nazis with the help of Roche. In 1941 he followed Roche’s boss, Emil Barell, to the US and helped build up Roche’s research there. In 1954, Hoffman-La Roche was in financial difficulty at home and engaged in a race with Wallace Pharmaceuticals in the US to bring out an effective tranquilliser drug. Wallace had already brought out a pill, Miltown, which worked fairly well to calm the agitated, and Sternbach had to find a compound just as good, or better, with just enough differences to get round Wallace’s patent.
As a student at Krakow University, Sternback had conducted research into a class of compounds called benzodiazepines, thinking synthetic dyes could be made with them, but also suspecting they might interact with the central nervous system. He dusted off his school notes and over two years he tested 40 compounds, but they all turned out to be pharmacologically inert. He was ordered to stop messing about and to develop antibiotics instead.
But in 1956, these long years of patient, detailed study intersected with good fortune and Sternbach discovered his compound, though it had nothing to do with dyestuffs or antibiotics. Fiddling with yet another benzodiazepine, he treated it with methylamine that made a white crystalline powder, and called it Ro 5–0690.
When laboratory mice were injected with different variants of the new compound, one of the student interns noticed that their tails relaxed and dropped down – and concluded that the substance had a tranquillising effect. When the powder was tested systematically on mice they no longer ran up a steep incline to get a reward, or tumbled down it in a stupor, but ran around, happy and alert, at the bottom, as if the rat-race did not exist. When later applied to animals and humans, cats and dogs relaxed when dosed, and nervous old folk became tranquil, with no apparent side effects.
The new drug, named Librium, was approved for use in 1960. Three years later a simpler version, several times stronger, was developed by Sternbach and called Valium. This became astonishingly popular. Between 1969 and 1982, it was the most prescribed drug in the US; in its peak year, 1978, 2.3bn pills were sold. Valium was the first so-called blockbuster drug, with revenues exceeding $1bn in annual sales.
The Swiss Made book was distributed as a gift to celebrate the 125th anniversary.
A customized version of the Swiss Made book was produced for Nestlé, in which the sponsor included an individual preface.
The Swiss Made book was given to customers and business partners as a special gift for the opening of a new factory in Shanghai.