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0 Let go and get going

A hundred years of change and innovation: from Zürcher Ziegeleien to CONZZETA.


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A quirk of geological history as a business opportunity


What the receding glaciers left behind 15,000 years ago was to become a raw material for building houses. But the original source of the material, molasse rock, dates back much further: about 20 million years. At that ... 100 years of Conzzeta

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A quirk of geological history as a business opportunity

... time there was an enormous flood plain with meandering rivers that stretched from the edge of the Alps to the Black Forest. Rivers washed debris, sand and clayey slurry down from the Alps. These solidified into nagelfluh (conglomerate), sandstone and layers of marl.

At the end of the last Ice Age, the glaciers receded rapidly from the Alpine foreland. The Üetliberg was now visible as an icefree, sharply notched range of hills, composed largely of molasse layers and almost entirely lacking in vegetation. As a result, the soft marl formations of the molasse were subject to powerful weathering processes. Whenever rain fell, streams of mud were washed down from the steep sides of the mountain into the valley. Later, the flanks of the Üetliberg were covered in fir and birch forest. When this tree cover fell victim to short-lived climatic changes, the runoffs of clay-bearing mud resumed. Over time, a massive seam of clay, up to

50 meters deep in places, was laid down between Triemli and present-day Zurich Allmend. Since the time of the Ancient Celts and Romans, people have been transforming this raw material, with the help of fire, into bricks and tiles. The finest clay was found in the deepest part of the valley, which was practical because that was where the r­ivers flowed, in this case the River Sihl. Logs were rafted down the river to fire the brick kilns. So it was not the clay seams that determined the location of the earliest brickworks, but the proximity of the river and its potential as an inexpensive way of transporting timber.

Stratification of the Üetliberg slope 869 m above sea level

Former Binz clay pit Üetliberg clay (approx. 15000 to 9000 years old) Sihl Sihlschotter gravel Reppisch Üetliberg Former Binz clay pit Sihl Moraine Ice-age deposits of Deckenschotter gravel (­approx. 800,000 years old) The extremely high quality clay at the foot of Üetliberg is a product of the mountain itself. Years of Upper freshwater molasse (marl and sandstone; weathering and rain washed the clay down the slopes until there was a layer of it 50 m deep at the edge of the valley. The ground was thus prepared for Zürcher Ziegeleien. (Diagram vertically exaggerated) approx. 15 million years old)

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Zurich around 1500.

Brick-makers on a short leash Clay has been fired in the Zurich region since the 14th century. There is a note in the records dating from 1364 about a tenure – today it would be called a concession – granted to three brick-makers who together operated the Herrenhütte. The workshop was owned by the municipality, which awarded the tenure with rights of use. The timing of this company foundation was favorable. In 1280 and 1313, Zurich was devastated by fires. At that time, the houses were built from wood and roofed in wooden shingles or straw thatch – easy prey for the flames. The town council ordered that new buildings had to be constructed in stone up to the first floor and roofed in tiles. This order formed the basis for the enterprising makers of tiles and bricks. But the municipality, which was organized in guilds, kept the craftsmen under tight control. The brick-makers relied for fuel on the timber from the municipally owned forests flanking the nearby Sihl. On the other hand, they were obliged to sell their products at regulated prices. For centuries, the town records tell of disputes over fair prices, above all when the replanted areas of forest had to be spared and wood was scarce. Between the 15th and the 19th centuries, to the south of the town, in the present-day district of Wiedikon, there were up to ten brick and tile works, all of them small workshops with laborious handmade production. To begin with, they were making rounded hollow tiles and pantiles, which were eventually supplanted by flat or plain tiles. Brick and tile making was usually a sideline for farmers.

Until the second half of the 19th century, brick-making remained a craft industry of minor economic significance. Settlements were small and there was relatively little construction. For the little building that did go on, the preferred materials were the boulders freely available from rivers, as well as timber. When a clay pit was worked out, it was filled in and the land returned to agricultural use. Private brick kilns exploited clay deposits on common land on the basis of tenure. That only changed with the emergence of mechanized brick-making after 1850. The high investment that entailed forced works owners to secure long-term supplies of the raw materials by buying land. Traditional brick-making – a laborious business The brick and tile maker pressed the prepared clay into a mold made of wood or iron and then scraped off any excess with a piece of beechwood. This is the origin of the old name Ziegelstreicher – brick or tile leveller – given to this craft. The great skill of the master craftsman was to form the rainwater grooves on the tiles with his fingers, keeping them as regular as possible; similarly, the lip that held the tile in place was formed with great precision by hand. The bricks or tiles were laid, still wet, on planks and placed in a drying framework. When ready, they were pushed into the kiln for firing. Handmade brick and tile making was a seasonal trade. The clay was

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A quirk of geological history as a business opportunity

The first Mechanische Backsteinfabrik plant was built in Binz in 1865. The square chimney belonged to the steam engine; the round stack, seen in the picture on the right during demolition work, was for the kiln. Mechanization led to a massive increase in productivity at the beginning of the building boom during the Gr端nderzeit.

Home village Where the busy works Pour smoke into the sky The womb of the Earth Yields up the cold clay. In the five factories Fathers by the hundred Make the red bricks To earn their bread. Wiedikon poet J. Hasler in: Chronik der ehe足足maligen Gemeinden Wiedikon und Aussersihl, 1911.

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Workers at the Heurieth brick and tile works, with their tools and the bricks they made there.


dug and refined in winter, when the bricks and tiles that had been formed and dried in the summer were also fired. By these methods, a good craftsman, with his assistants, could achieve a daily output of around 1000 roofing tiles or 1200 to 1500 bricks. But when it came to productivity, he had no chance of competing with the mechanized brick and tile works which came to dominate the industry during the building boom of the Gründerzeit, the period of rapid industrial expansion after 1850. Two key inventions played a huge part in this: the extrusion press and the ring kiln, which burned continuously and made more efficient use of its fuel. Zurich’s first mechanized brick and tile works – Ziegelei Albishof – was opened in 1850. It was followed, in 1865, by Me­ cha­nische Backsteinfabrik Zürich (founded in 1861), also situated in the middle of the clay quarrying area on the southwestern edge of the city. A builder looking to expand his business founded Dampf­ ziegelei Heuried in 1875. In the same year, Ziegelei im Tiergarten was established nearby as a subsidiary of Mechanische

The German inscription says: “This brick was made on the last day of the year 1549”. On special days, as here at the turn of the year 1549 –50, the craftsmen would immortalize themselves in short comments in their products. This roof tile came to light during renovation work on a building on the left bank of Lake Zurich.

Back­steinfabrik. The red clay needed to manufacture interlocking, grooved tiles was brought in from clay pits further afield (Herdern, Sihlfeld); as a result, by 1899, Ziegelei im Tiergarten had its own railway siding. Eventually, in 1892, the oldest brick and tileworks in the Zurich region, Albishof, built a modern plant in Giesshübel, a small section of which was dedicated to the manufacture of special bricks for chimney flues. This marked the return of the tilemaker’s craft to one of its earliest production sites in Zurich. As far back as 1534, the Bär family was firing clay to make tiles on the hill called Giesshübel. The age of the machine In the emerging industrial era, the artisan brick-makers were fighting a losing battle. One after another they gave up their trade.

An early brick from Mechanische Backsteinfabrik, showing the initials M and B and the Zurich lion.

Many were farmers who had made bricks as a sideline. They were superseded by wealthy investors, mainly building contractors, who wanted to extend their value chain and gain control over one of their most important construction materials. The new mechanized brick and tile works were far more productive than the laborious handmade method. With its very first array of machinery, Mechanische Backsteinfabrik produced up to 25,000 tiles or bricks, ten times more than a well-practiced team of artisan brick-makers. At the same time, a lot of effort went into increasing capacity. In 1893, Zurich expanded through the incorporation of eleven outlying municipalities, becoming, by Swiss standards, a big city. From the mid 1880s onward, public and private construction activity grew in step with the rising population. The building industry, and with it the brick and tile sector, responded with a constant stream of new investments and capacity expansion, sometimes far outstripping demand. From 1890 to 1896, as a result of successive streamlining measures, the production capacity of the Swiss brick and tile industry grew by a total of 60 percent. In 1898, when the banks took steps to rein in the speculative fervor by restricting

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A quirk of geological history as a business opportunity

credit in the construction market, many building companies collapsed. The groups of brick and tile manufacturers in Zurich, previously so profitable, faced a dangerous slump in demand. The surplus production was exacerbated by aggressive imports from outside suppliers, who were facing the same problems. The upshot was a ruthless price war, with some grotesque consequences. In 1900, work was begun on the construction of the Bühl schoolhouses in the Wiedikon district, which was home to various brick and tile works. Local traders and residents were incensed when they learned that price-conscious municipal officials had bought in the necessary bricks from an outsider, Ziegeli Wettswil, an infamously aggressive price-cutter, disregarding the Binz brickworks on their own doorstep in the process. Sales slump + price war = cartel Overproduction and depressed prices called for concerted action. In 1903, the Genossen­schaft Zürcherischer Ziegelei­ besitzer (Cooperative of Zurich Brickwork Owners) was established; it was effectively a price and conditions cartel, with a strict division of the markets and the ­power of sanction. Similar combinations had previ-

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Quarrying at the Binz clay pit (Zurich) around 1900. Around 9000 years ago, the streams of clay which came down the Üetliberg became buried under the fossilized tree stumps seen here strewn around the site.

ously been formed in Eastern Switzer­land; Western and Central Switzerland and the Mittelland central plain were to follow some years later. Among the self-help measures of the regional cartels was the practice of buying up and closing any works which had run into difficulties or were under­going a change of generations. From contemporary sources we know that capacity reduction was even more important to the cartel than controlling prices and conditions. Seven competing works which belonged to the Zurich cooperative set mini­ mum prices; the three based in the city of Zurich, along with their outside competitor in Wettswil, went a step further, establishing a joint sales office in 1908 which presented itself on the market under a new brand name: Zürcher Ziegeleien.

This was only the first step in a move toward closer cooperation. Two years earlier, the smallest of the three city-based brickwork groups, Dampfziegelei Heurieth, had taken two important steps in its devel­ opment: it was completely electrified, and it opened up its Board of Directors to two prominent representatives of the Eastern Swiss brick and tile industry. Two young brothers, Ernst and Jacob Schmidheiny, took over management of the company, the start of an engagement with the most important construction market in Switzerland. A year later, they merged Heurieth with the Albishof Group. The new com­ pany, Ziegeleien Albishof-Heurieth AG, was endowed with equity capital of one mil­ lion Swiss francs; Heurieth’s nominal share


From ring kiln to tunnel kiln

Diagram of the ring kiln designed by Friedrich Hoffmann (cross section with cutaway and longitudinal section).

Alongside the extrusion press, which was invented in 1854 and produces a continuous, evenly shaped length of clay, the ring kiln, patented in Prussia by Friedrich Eduard Hoffmann in 1859, was the single most important step on the way from manually to mechanically produced bricks and tiles. The mechanized brickworks in the Binz area of Zurich was equipped with this kiln, designed for efficient, continuous firing of tiles and bricks. The Hoffmann ring kiln comprises a large circle or oval, with 12 to 24 firing chambers, which are fed with fuel, separately, one after the other. Without any interruption, the fire gradually makes its way round the chamber in the direction of the airflow. It completes the circuit in one to two weeks, and fires the bricks enclosed in the kiln at a temperature of around 1000 degrees Celsius. Through a clever system of vent lines, the fired tiles warm the air supply to the fire at the same time as they cool down, while the hot exhaust gases dry and pre-heat the clay blanks. The continuous firing process enabled enormous savings to be made in fuel and produced a brick or tile of consistent quality. It also made possible a massive increase in the output of bricks and tiles. The next stage of development was the tunnel kiln. The charge of clay blanks is loaded onto fireproof wagons, whose upper surface forms the floor of the kiln. The wagons are moved in sequence along the firing channel. Tunnel ovens, often over 100 meters in length, made possible a further significant increase in the productivity of brick and tile manufacture.

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A quirk of geological history as a business opportunity

capital of 220,000 Swiss francs was purchased with shares in the new company to the value of 330,000 Swiss francs, which, in view of the difficult times, made a big impression in the industry and increased the readiness for further consolidations. It was the Schmidheiny brothers’ first major business venture. In 1905, following the death of their father, company founder Jacob Schmidheiny I, they had taken over the running of the brick and tile works he had built up in St. Gallen and the Rhine Valley. Although Ernst Schmidheiny quit as a partner in the group of companies based in Eastern Switzerland in 1907, he remained involved in the brickworks in the City of Zurich. In any case, the two young entrepreneurs had sent out a powerful signal and earned the respect of the new market. Cement, a powerful competitor There was no letup in the problems besetting the industry. The process of consolidation intensified under pressure from the parallel growth of the cement industry, which was seen as the most dangerous com­petitor for brick. Ernst Schmidheiny believed in the future of cement and aimed to devote himself to it. He had a clear vision of the competitive situation in rela-

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Captain Ernst Schmidheiny and Lieutenant Jacob Schmidheiny (right) in 1903. The merger of Zurich’s brick and tile manufacturers into Zürcher Ziegeleien was their first major joint venture after the death of their father, Jacob Schmidheiny.


Tense social climate in the Belle Époque

Aussersihl, the workers’ district of Zurich, in the late 19th century. The modest workers’ houses were being replaced by functional apartment blocks.

“In Zurich, where increased urbanization began to make itself felt around the middle of the 19th century, growth and the modern face of the city were initially welcomed and promoted. But around the turn of the century, a more critical and sober view gained the upper hand. The enormous social and urban planning changes, which transformed the familiar townscape in a very short time, brought uncertainty, disorientation and social tension. Familiar sights were lost to view and soon long-established burghers could barely recognize their native city. The fin de siècle saw a growing critique of progress and opposition to ­urbanization. The working-class districts were the main areas of conflict and the focus of the critique. The disquiet caused by the sheer density of housing, the makeshift, overcrowded living quarters, and high level of mobility was all the greater because it was accompanied by a rapid poli­ ti­cal mobilization of the working people.” From Daniel Kurz: Die Disziplinierung der ­Stadt – Moderner Städtebau in Zürich 1900–1940, ­Zurich  2008.

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A quirk of geological history as a business opportunity

tion to the traditional brick industry and said repeatedly that there was no point in trying to fight against promising innovations, the only sensible course was to gain control over them. However, surplus capacity was also undermining prices in the cement industry. In 1910, the syndicate collapsed, an event that coincided with the advent of reinforced concrete. The brick industry was under attack from all sides. Nevertheless, the Schmidheiny brothers, with their training in management and modern techniques, were able to use the example of the three city-based brick and tile works to show how structural problems could be solved and to highlight where the weaknesses lay: for example, having a range of goods with too many different products in small numbers. The three neighboring Zurich-based companies alone carried 160 different kinds of brick and as many as 200 types of roofing tile. An overhaul was urgently required. On all sides, there were entrepreneurs who saw the writing on the wall, especially in view of the cri­ tical world situation, with growing hostility between Germany and France. Ernst Schmid­heiny succeeded in persuading his colleagues and competitors of the advantages of combining forces, along with a carefully planned and managed streamlining of the range of products – the very thing he had just accomplished, together

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with his brother Jacob Schmidheiny II, in their own Eastern Swiss companies. Initial momentum of the launch Two and a half months before the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, visited Zurich and ­Switzerland in all his military pomp, the owners of Ziegelei Albishof-Heurieth and Mechanische Backsteinfabrik Zürich decided to merge. The necessary resolutions were passed unanimously at a meeting held in the ‘Zunfthaus zur Zimmerleute’ guild house. In attendance were 35 shareholders who represented 78 percent of the capital in the two companies. The momentum of the new company’s launch was utilized, and a few weeks later, Mecha­ nische Ziegelfabrik Wettswil joined the new enterprise. In the same summer, it was followed by Hermann Keller-Malzacher, whose Ziegelei Teufen brickworks in C ­ anton Zurich had previously been part of the Pfungen Group, in which his brother was the leading figure. Keller-Malzacher also provided a contact to the owners of Ziegelei Rafz, who faced mortgage problems. The Rafz works was prized above all for the significant reserves of red clay it owned, particularly as the corresponding reserves in Sihlfeld were running out. This acquisition prompted the building of a

narrow-track rail link in Rafz and the laying of industrial tracks to serve the Binz and Tiergarten works. The combined annual output of the production sites belonging to the newly formed group was 30 million tiles and bricks, without fully utilizing their capacity. The eight factories located in the city and the surrounding countryside, from the south to the northernmost edge of the most economically powerful canton in Switzerland, justified the name the grouping had given itself in the ‘Zunfthaus zur Zimmerleute’: Zürcher Ziegeleien. More­ over, through the Schmidheiny connection, the situation was primed for more extensive cooperation with the brick and tile works in Eastern Switzerland and even for a shakeout of the entire Swiss market and effective protection of the market area. Long before the great merger, members of the Schmidheiny family had attracted attention as the prime movers behind the formation of the cartel. Ernst Schmidheiny, who had committed himself to the competing cement industry in 1907, was not even 30 years old when he conducted a survey of 82 Swiss brickworks owners to canvass their views on a number of basic questions relating to market regulations. Exactly half of them were in favor of binding price and production rules. This led to the foundation of the Association


The Bührer zigzag kiln (late 19th century), a refinement of the ring kiln. The floor plan of the kiln could be mistaken for a piece of decorative artwork: it shows the pathways of “smoky, warm and damp air” through the kiln’s base. Even in those days, it was considered important to use fuel as efficiently as possible. The duct leading off to the right channeled residual heat into the drying chamber, where the wet bricks would release any surplus moisture prior to baking.

of Swiss Tile and Brick Manufacturers (Ver­ ­band Schweizerischer Ziegel- und Steinfabrikanten), which in subsequent years was to form the core of the nationwide brick and tile cartel. By the end of the First World War, the consolidation, so long in the making, was a reality. From 1911 till 1923, the number of brick and tile works

in Switzerland shrank from 191 to 99; almost all the small brickworks, run as sidelines by farmers, disappeared.

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Mammut makes customers into friends

Two hundred customers stand in their underwear on a glacier – for hours. Then the photo is in the bag. They have travelled from far and wide to ­Switzerland for this shot. On a regular ... 100 years of Conzzeta

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Mammut makes customers into friends

... basis, between 2000 and 4000 people want to be part of the spectacular photos that Mammut uses in its public relations. The Swiss alpine sports and outdoor brand is a cult. It is the brand that makes friends out of customers. Mountain huts sometimes look like Mammut shops. Jackets, helmets, boots, ropes – almost everything is from Mammut!

“We are the splash of color in Conzzeta’s high-tech landscape,” laughs CEO Rolf Schmid. For him, it can’t be colorful enough. The marketing platform of the trend-setting sports brand is a perfect fit with the target market: mountaineers and outdoor sports enthusiasts are high achievers – self-confident, sociable, sometimes boisterous – but critical and uncompromising as far as the quality of their equipment is concerned. The rope has to hold; your life literally hangs in the balance. At the Seon headquarters of Mammut Sports Group in Switzerland, seven million meters of rope are woven every year. Rope as the golden thread And it all began with ropes. In 1862 a ­certain Kaspar Tanner founded a ropemaking workshop in Dintikon. The business prospered and grew. In 1878 he found a larger domicile for the company in the neighboring town of Lenzburg. By 1919 this had grown into Seilerwarenfabrik AG Lenz­burg, and eventually, in 1968, Arova Lenz­burg AG. Later, the company became a member of textile industry grouping ­Heberlein. Finally, in 1982, along came Zürcher Ziegeleien, which at that time was just beginning to diversify because the demand for bricks and tiles in the construction industry was declining. “Mammut-Everest” was originally the brand name for a climbing rope produced with great success since 1955. It enjoyed a legendary reputation among mountaineers the world over. Arova also

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produced ropes for industrial applications, as well as calving ropes. In 1999 Arova separated itself from the traditional, no longer profitable industrial segment, as well as from its name. At that time, the sporting goods activities of Mammut had a staff of 30 and the business was making a loss. A strategic decision was taken to concentrate solely on alpine sports. Since then Mammut has been the epitome of a brand that sets trends for mountain sports and hiking enthusiasts worldwide: with jackets, pants, sports and mountain footwear, sleeping bags and backpacks, climbing ropes, carabiners, helmets and electronic avalanche rescue devices. Today, around 400 employees generate annual sales of over 200 million Swiss francs. The trend is strongly upward. The Matterhorn as background “As a Swiss company – with the Matterhorn in the background, as it were – we bring a certain credibility to the outdoor business,” says Rolf Schmid. He was the driving force behind the radical change of direction and has seen himself ever since “not as a manager, but as an employeeentrepreneur”. In retrospect, Arova/Mammut got the timing just right when it turned itself from a production-led industrial company into a marketing-driven, strongly brand-oriented organization in 1996. In the meantime, the products have reached the highest standards; Mammut


Jacob Schmidheiny with Mammut CEO Rolf Schmid (center) during an interview with the well-known TV ­journalist Röbi Koller (right).

Kaspar Tanner (far right) founded the first Mammut rope works in 1862.

In the 1940s, ropes were still being laid, spliced and tied by hand.

All the processes required to turn thread into Mammut mountaineering ropes take place in-house at Seon in Switzerland; a guarantee for their high quality. The ropes all consist of an elastic core (white) and a protective coating which is woven around it. No less than 7000 kilometers of rope are made this way every year.

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Mammut makes customers into friends

was one of the first companies to use Gore-Tex. Well-known brands such as Fürst (backpacks), Raichle (footwear) and Toko (ski wax) were integrated – in the latter case only temporarily. Once it became evident that Toko was too small to grow from a 15-million to a 100-million business, the brand was sold in 2010 to the Norwegian market leader Swix. As Schmid says: “It wasn’t our core business; it was about chemicals and therefore incredibly complex.” Mammut’s core business is about providing all a person needs for hiking, mountaineering, rock climbing and survival between sea level and 8000 meters. The worldwide outdoor scene is full of people who not only have money to spend, they also have more and more time to enjoy it – and an unfulfilled longing for unique achievements, outstanding performance, closeness to nature and unforgettable ­experiences. At the same time, these enthusiasts are critical, sophisticated and difficult to reach. It looks as though Mammut has found a laid-back way to communicate with these challenging customers. Lady with dachshund on Mount Everest Many outdoor fans are intensive users of the Internet and social media. They like swapping stories and they can be mobilized online, not least for Mammut’s annual test events. This is where Mammut’s

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public relations come in – with such success that they have won a number of national and international marketing awards. Sometimes Mammut’s PR campaigns have bordered on the surreal. In 2006, an 85-yearold British lady by the name of Mary Wood­bridge announced that she wanted to climb Mount Everest by the most direct route and she was taking her dachshund Daisy with her. The news item went round the world. The project was discussed in dozens of online forums with a mixture of curiosity and amusement – until it came out that the whole story had been invented by Mammut’s marketing department. The key message was: in the mountains, you can’t just rely on good equipment, you have to know your own limits. A series of so-called test events have become an integral part of the Mammut brand cult. No sooner had the first one been announced online than there were several thousand people eager to take part. And there were only 200 places on offer. Everyone, including the many who were turned down, felt the same thing: Mammut believes in its products and is willing to take a risk – news of any defect in the ropes, boots or jackets would surely spread like wildfire. The tests were a success and the events were repeated on an annual basis. At the end of each of these test weekends, a key visual is produced –

an extraordinary, off-the-wall picture that will take pride of place in advertising the next collection: 200 ski tour enthusiasts wearing bright-red pants, in arrow for­ mation, on the deep-snow field below Piz Julier in the canton of Graubünden. Or 30 mountain guides lined up in a neat row on the dizzying pinnacle of the Kleines Kamel near the Furka Pass in the heart of the Swiss Alps. The message comes across clearly: exceptional products deserve to be presented in an exceptional setting. Top performers earn credibility Over the years, many successful individuals and top performers from the world of mountaineering and rock climbing have

The scurrilous story of Mary Woodbridge was a witty advertising ploy by Mammut which ­entertained thousands.


The making of a spectacular publicity shot by Robert Bösch: first the ropes are put in place and the participants lined up.

Lean back, belay, adjust rope length – the spectacular Mammut photos require patience and ­precision work before they go round the world.

The big moment arrives: thirty alpinists float ­ ndaunted between heaven and earth. u The ­message: Mammut – Absolute Alpine!

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Giatin et as sumendaepero Ceribus de con etusam, volores tioru Giatin et as sumendaepero Ceribus de con etusam, volores tiorum m

The whole world on a glacier: this is how Mammut 足symbolizes its claim to be one of the world leaders in mountaineering equipment.


Reaching extreme heights in tough footwear: another Robert Bösch picture to be shown around the world. The location is the Kleine Kamel (Little Camel) in the Furka Pass area.


Giatin et as sumendaepero Ceribus de con etusam, volores tioru Giatin et as sumendaepero Ceribus de con etusam, volores tiorum m

Summit meeting, Mammut style: a spectacular location (near the Jungfrau), an extreme camera angle, daredevil models and a photographer who can capture exactly the right moment.


Imagine the power of a brand that can get two hundred people to climb a glacier in their underwear and be photographed barefoot!


Mammut makes customers into friends

appeared as Mammut brand ambassadors: Stephan Siegrist, Daniel Arnold, David Lama and Anna Stöhr, to name but a few. Their achievements may not be within reach of the average climber, but they set standards and act as role models. Anyone who can conquer the north face of the Eiger in less than two and half hours, relying on Mammut equipment, is making a statement that is far more convincing than any advertising message. Or as Rolf Schmid puts it: “This isn’t about marketing gimmicks. We make products that do exactly what they claim to do. If the product and publicity match up, our stories are accepted. The spectacularly staged shots by the world-famous alpine photographer Robert Bösch are a way of expressing that Mammut is something special.” The elemental brand image from Switzerland has captured the imagination of outdoor enthusiasts the world over. Mammut stands for everything they want and need in life: strength, determination, endurance. Outdoor activities have become the biggest leisure trend worldwide, above all in the developed world, where basic needs are met – apart, that is, from the pure thrill of performance, the unfamiliar, the great adventure. Outdoor begins

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Mountain sports ­enthusiasts seek a­dvice they can trust. Mammut trains and supports its dealers so that they can help their customers make the right choices.

with mountain hikes and culminates in icefall climbing and other extreme sports. Fairness and openness as core competencies Mammut supports its brand ambassadors with equipment and money for their projects. These close ties are transparent. “The alpinists repay what we have invested through the media presence they generate. That’s a fair deal, based on mutual advantage,” stresses Schmid. He knows his customers are sensitive, that many top mountaineers feel uncomfortable about being placed on the same level as the brand-conscious urbanites that Mammut

also has to cultivate if it is going to meet its annual growth target – currently standing at ten percent. The gulf between the extremes and the average, between ideals and reality, is enormous. “Our answer is openness and fairness,” says Schmid, “our customers have a right to expect that.” In practice that means, for example, being open about where the products that are designed and tested in Switzerland are actually made: in Portugal, Latvia, Turkey and, yes, in China too. It goes without saying that Mammut is under close public scrutiny. The development organization ‘Declaration of Bern’ investigated the re-


cord of 29 outdoor companies on various aspects of corporate social responsibility (fair trade, working conditions in manufacturing plants, environmental awareness, etc.). Mammut, alongside a Californian brand, came out best, achieving the category of ‘good, but still room for improvement’ – a verdict Schmid agrees with. At the company’s Seon headquarters in the Swiss canton of Aargau they are working on new projects, for example complete proof of origin certification online for every Mammut product. Counterfeiters are Mammut fans as well Mammut relies on the retail trade for its distribution because some of the products, particularly technical equipment, require expert advice, and customers expect sales staff to know their mountains. That enables the company to stay well clear of the harsh world of the sporting goods market and its fierce price competition. Since 2009, Mammut brand stores have been opened on a franchising basis in Germany, Switzer­ land and Asia. The brand has a big slice of the market in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. Mammut is the biggest European supplier in the US outdoor market, but there is still huge potential for expansion. The company has been very successful in Japan and Korea. In China, sales are still fairly low key, “because the market

still hasn’t matured,” as Schmid puts it. “People in China still don’t have a lot of time for outdoor activities.” However, Mammut has achieved a different and rather special form of recognition there. At first, people at company headquarters were secretly pleased; now it is a source of annoyance: professional counterfeiters in China have discovered Mammut and are putting copies of its products, particularly clothing and backpacks, onto the market. Steps have been taken in the current collection to counter this development. The exclusive articles have an added form of copy protection in the form of a hologram label. CEO Rolf Schmid takes a pragmatic view: “If others are trying to copy our products, we must have got it right.”

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Conzzeta Jubiläumsbuch 100 Jahre (englisch)  

Conzzeta Jubiläumsbuch 100 Jahre, englisch

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