100 Years Anniversary
The only person to believe in the potential of a heavily indebted wire and rubber factory in the Canton of Uri on the northern side of the Swiss alps was Adolf Dätwyler. In 1915, with determination and the spirit of a pioneer, he laid the foundation for success. In 1958, Dätwyler’s sons, Peter and Max, assumed responsibility for the growing company, expanding its reach far beyond the borders of Switzerland. Today, the Dätwyler Group is a global supplier employing a workforce of over 7500 and still directed from its headquarters in central Switzerland.
Daring start paid a handsome dividend
In 1915, Adolf Dätwyler, a young farmer’s son, was the only person to believe in the potential of highly indebted Schweizerische Draht- und Gummiwerke, a cable and rubber factory located in Altdorf in Canton Uri. The company was founded in 1902 in Zurich by five German businessmen with doubtful reputations. In 1909 the company headquarters relocated to Altdorf.
Altdorf is where Adolf Dätwyler took on executive management of the small company. Dätwyler had industry experience and was infinitely competent. He reorganized the ailing company and, in the midst of World War I, laid down the foundation for its far-reaching business success. Soon, the company reported positive financial results and gratifying earnings. In June 1917, Dätwyler acquired the company with the help of a group of investors for the amount of 2.25 million Swiss francs in cash, a bold step that was soon to pay handsome dividends.
In 1920, the Dätwyler family acquired majority shareholding and, in 1946, the company’s name was changed to Dätwyler AG.
Respect for humanitarian values
The situation in Canton Uri in the early 20th century was poor, especially with respect to education and a living wage. Now, the developing industrial sector opened up new opportunities.
Adolf Dätwyler soon recognized this as a way to support local staff and tie them to the company. As early as 1918 he established a company health insurance fund and from 1933 onward he constructed numerous affordable housing units. Starting in 1944, the company-owned training college offered interesting continuing education programs. In 1948 Dätwyler AG created a pension fund – some 30 years before it became statutory in Switzerland.
Adolf Dätwyler and his wife, Selina Dätwyler, took on social responsibilities beyond the everyday needs in the factory. Thanks to their contribution, the water and sewage system, an indoor swimming pool and tennis courts served the general public. In 1965 the charitable Adolf and Selina Dätwyler-Gamma Foundation was established and subsequently integrated into the Dätwyler Foundation.
Taking advantage of market opportunities
As a passionate driver of automobiles, the young automotive industry aroused Adolph Dätwyler’s interest. In 1935, despite a sense of general economic crisis, he signed a licensing agreement with Firestone, the American tire manufacturer. Much to the displeasure of the competition, he opened a factory dedicated to the production of automobile tires in Pratteln near Basel. For almost 40 years, the Pratteln factory successfully contributed to the Dätwyler organization’s financial results before it was sold to the U.S. parent company at a profit. And for many years it had served as a source of qualified staff for Dätwyler’s main production facility in Altdorf.
For Dätwyler, Firestone sparked growth through acquisitions in related industries. In 1947, for instance, Adolph Dätwyler acquired a shareholding in Stahlrohr AG Rothrist, a manufacturer of steel pipes for running electric cables. Gummi Maag was acquired two years later; it represents the kick-off for the distribution of technical components which is today integrated into the Technical Components Division.
Recognizing the signs of the times
World War II brought about dramatic raw-material shortages. However, Dätwyler made arrangements to sidestep the scarcity of crude rubber, and by 1940 Switzerland’s largest regeneration plant for waste rubber was running at full speed in Altdorf
At the same time, the Altdorf rubber factory began production of bicycle tires, which were a big hit under the Bullcord brand name.
Other innovative products introduced during and after the war years testify to how well Dätwyler recognized the signs of the times and launched successful products despite adverse conditions. In 1945, the Cable Division developed the world’s first plastic-insulated high-voltage cable, while newly developed flooring made of plastocork included advanced polymer technology.
The company reinvented itself
Both Adolph Dätwyler’s sons joined the company in the mid-1950s. After graduating from university, Peter and Max embarked on in-house training at the Altdorf and Pratteln sites and with Firestone in the USA.
When the company founder’s energy began to wane, his two sons advised him to establish a holding company, which was established shortly before his demise in the fall of 1958.
Subsequently, Peter and Max Dätwyler managed the company initiating a widely based management culture. As a result, far-reaching freedom of scientific research prevailed in the company.
Well beyond its 50th anniversary, the company prospered and continued to undergo change. In 1967, the three divisions - cable, rubber and flooring – began operation as independent units. This early organization by divisions caused quite a sensation in Switzerland, smoothing the way for bolder steps abroad.
Success dwells in niches
In the 1970s it became increasingly clear that simple, mass-produced goods would lose their market appeal in the long term. Only products that could not be easily manufactured held a promise for success in the future. Dätwyler enjoyed wide know-how especially in such areas as sealing and elastomer technology, where the company successfully identified and found market niches. In 1975, Dätwyler established the Helvoet Pharma subsidiary in Belgium, which specializes in closures for liquid drugs.
In addition to the pharmaceutical industry, the automotive industry provided interesting niches for Dätwyler’s high-quality components.
While the Cable Division started production of fiber-optic cables in 1985, the acquisition of Distrelec AG kick-started Dätwyler’s Europe-wide distribution of electronic components. Dätwyler thereby laid the foundation for growth as a multi-niche player.
Peter and Max Dätwyler took one half of the Dätwyler Group public in 1986 with the aim of securing and stabilizing the group in the long term and achieving higher liquidity. The public offering was successful and yielded considerable additional funds.
At the same time, the two brothers developed a unique succession plan in terms of which Dätwyler AG’s Board of Directors controls the majority shareholding on a fiduciary basis. The Dätwyler Foundation was established at the same time, and today it is one of Switzerland’s leading funding organizations with a focus on Canton Uri.
By means of this succession plan, Peter and Max Dätwyler relinquished a significant share of their stake in the company in favor of creating a stable ownership structure.
Opportunities in globalization
Toward the end of the 20th century, globalization began to accelerate vigorously and large customers began to increasingly focus on suppliers with reliable global supply capabilities.
Dätwyler accepted the challenge and embarked on a global future. In 1998 the Cable Division expanded into China. Only a short time later, the Sealing Solutions Division constructed and acquired its own production facilities in the USA, Eastern Europe and Asia.
Dätwyler’s global expansion boosted its competitiveness while securing the existence of its main production facilities in Canton Uri. Increasingly, new and existing customers considered Dätwyler an esteemed development partner and solution provider. Dätwyler arrived in the new millennium – as a global player.
Planning the future
Critical size is decisive for survival in the global marketplace. Following the year 2000, Dätwyler continued to adjust its portfolio by expanding sealing technology (Sealing Solutions) and electronic distribution (Technical Components). Dätwyler also continued to generate growth by means of corporate acquisitions.
In 2012, Dätwyler transferred its cable business to the group’s majority shareholder, Pema Holding AG. Today, the new associated company, Dätwyler Cabling Solutions AG, modernises the plant in Canton Uri while continuing to expand abroad.
In its 2015 anniversary year, the Dätwyler Group is a leading international supplier to the pharmaceutical, automotive and construction industries and a global leader in the distribution of electronic components. Thanks to its strong roots, reliable values and a future-oriented ownership structure, the company has successfully accepted the challenges across time – and will continue to do so to the advantage of its customers, employees and shareholders.
The Power Of The Unseen - 100 years of Datwyler
Karl Lüönd (Author), Christoph Zurfluh (Author)
The Dätwyler Group is a global supplier employing a workforce of over 7500 and still directed from its headquarters in central Switzerland. This book is a fascinating corporate biography.
The only person to believe in the potential of a heavily indebted wire and rubber factory in the Canton of Uri on the northern side of the Swiss alps was Adolf Dätwyler. In 1915, with determination and the spirit of a pioneer, he laid the foundation for success. In 1958, Dätwyler’s sons, Peter and Max, assumed responsibility for the growing company, expanding its reach far beyond the borders of Switzerland. Today, the Dätwyler Group is a global supplier employing a workforce of over 7500 and still directed from its headquarters in central Switzerland. Written by Karl Lüönd and Christoph Zurfluh, this fascinating corporate biography describes “The Power Of The Unseen”.
Erwerb: NZZ Libro
Adolf Daetwyler was appointed to manage Schweizerische Draht- und Gummiwerke, a financially troubled Swiss wire and rubber company and the forerunner of the present Datwyler Group based in Altdorf/Uri.
A financial consortium led by Adolf Daetwyler purchased the company’s shares.
Adolf Daetwyler acquired the majority shareholding (management buyout).
The first step to build the Group came with a factory set up in Pratteln to manufacture Firestone products. After many successful years, the controlling interest was sold to the licensor, Firestone USA (1973).
Datwyler pioneered the development, manufacture and practical application of the first plastic-insulated high-voltage cable.
The acquisition of Gummi Maag AG Zurich (now Maagtechnic) launched the distribution of rubber components and work safety products.
Datwyler purchased an interest in Stahlrohr AG Rothrist (now Rothrist Tube (Switzerland) Inc.), later raised to 100%. Today, the company is the world’s largest manufacturer of high-precision gas spring cylinders for the automotive, machine and furniture industries.
The subsidiaries and associates were grouped under a new holding company; at the same time the second generation, Peter and Max Daetwyler, took over the operational management of the Group.
Datwyler embarked on selective international expansion with the aim of earning a reputation for niche market products.
Helvoet Pharma N.V. was established in Alken (BE), giving birth to a division that is now one of the world’s two leading manufacturers of rubber closures and aluminium/plastic caps for liquid pharmaceuticals.
The acquisition of Aumann AG and its subsidiary Distrelec Inc. laid the foundation for specialist and mail order distribution of electronic components.
Datwyler Holding Inc. successfully went public with an offering of bearer shares; the Daetwyler family continued to hold a controlling interest.
The Datwyler Group celebrated its 75th anniversary. Peter and Max Daetwyler implemented a new shareholding structure to ensure continuity in the Group’s ownership and management. They handed over the management to the Executive Board team already in place. The Daetwyler Foundation was established.
The Technical Components Division started its systematic expansion and internationalisation to build the Daetwyler Teco distribution organisation.
Dr. Max Daetwyler, the last representative of the founding family, stepped down from the Board and became an Honorary Director of Datwyler Holding Inc.
The Datwyler Group generated over one billion Swiss francs in revenue for the first time.
The Datwyler Group sells the Precision Tubes Division, operating in the market as Rothrist.
Akquisition of the Swedish ELFA Group and expansion of the online/catalogue distribution of industrial electronics and automation (Distrelec Group).
Akquisition of the German Reichelt Elektronik and further expansion of the online/catalogue distribution of industrial electronics and automation.
Acquisition of the Dutch Nedis Group to further strengthen the online/catalogue distribution.
Acquisition of the Chinese Zhongding and the Korean Hankook to strategically expand the automotive business in the Sealing Technologies division.
Sale of the Cabling Solutions division to the majority shareholder Pema Holding Inc. and consolidation of the Pharma Packaging and the Sealing Technologies divisions to form the Sealing Solutions division.
Sale of specialist distribution business Maagtechnic.
Datwyler Group is celebrating its 100 years anniversary.