Innovation with the wow factor The innovator behind the touring binding celebrates its 50th birthday.
FRITSCHI IN REICHENBACH IS WIDELY ACKNOWLEDGED AS THE WORLDâ€™S LEADING MANUFACTURER OF TOURING AND FREERIDE SKI BINDINGS.
ith a global market share of 65 to 70 percent, Fritschi in Reichenbach i.K. is far and away the worldâ€şs leading manufacturer of touring bindings. Slowly but surely, the Bern-based company has established its undisputed pole position in a technically demanding segment. Its policy of systematic technical innovation has made an enormous contribution to the continued development of ski touring. However, to enjoy this most beautiful and natural winter sport to the full, skiers need the very best binding available. A genuinely outstanding touring binding demands all the expertise of creative engineers and topclass craftsmen. Fritschi has both: talented engineers and high-quality craftsmen. At Fritschi, they work together as a team. Fritschi not only adheres to the Swiss philosophy of quality craftsmanship. It is also committed to the Bernese Oberland and has been faithful to Reichenbach in the Kander valley for 50 years. In statistical terms, Fritschi is simply a niche product that has won itself a global market. However, this is a global market in the truest sense, covering ski regions
INTEGRATED, STATE-OF-THE-ART PRODUCTION IN AN UNCOMPROMISINGLY MODERN BUT BY NO MEANS DOMINANT ARCHITECTURE. FRITSCHI HAS REMAINED TRUE TO REICHENBACH (BACKGROUND) AND IS GEARING ITS OPERATIONS TO FUTURE NEEDS.
from the Alps to the Andes. And this includes up-andcoming winter sports areas such as the Tatra Mountains, the Caucasus, the Himalayas and the Rockies. Fritschi has surmounted the enormous challenge of becoming a reliable and attractive partner for touring skiers worldwide. How could it be anything else considering that exports account for 85 percent of its output? Fritschi bindings are also the first choice for military purposes. Only recently, the French army ordered Fritschi bindings for its Alpine troops. In Switzerland, it is only fitting that Fritschi has been able to grow and achieve the recognition it deserves thanks to its military supplies. Touring ski bindings must be able to fulfil completely contradictory requirements. They need to be light and permit easy, comfortable movement while simultaneously ensuring optimum stability, solidity and safety. To avoid serious injuries such as broken bones in the event of a fall, they have to be equipped with a modern release system. The design of modern touring ski bindings demands complex engineering skills. In this field, a thorough understanding of modern high-tech materials is every bit as important as outstanding design expertise and longstanding production experience. For 30 years or more, Andreas Fritschiâ€şs professional activities have concentrated exclusively on touring bindings. The fact that he has successfully patented a number of his innovations testifies to his intense desire to find new, successful solutions and his readiness to explore new avenues.
THE DESIGN AND MANUFACTURE OF A MODERN TOURING OR FREERIDE BINDING TODAY IS A COMPLEX ENGINEERING PROCESS.
THE SON OF A FARMER IN AARGAU, HIS FIRST JOBS WERE IN FRENCH-SPEAKING SWITZERLAND AND MILAN. ALBERT FRITSCHI WITH SONS ANDREAS AND CHRISTIAN AT A TRADE FAIR IN MUNICH.
CHRISTIAN FRITSCHI BUSINESSMAN BY TRADE, ARTIST OUT OF PASSION, HE COMANAGED THE COMPANY WITH HIS BROTHER.
A TECHNICIAN BY TRAINING, HE
APPOINTED GENERAL MANAGER
DEVELOPED THE BIG FREERIDE
IN 2004, HE HAS IMPOSED A
AND TOURING SKI BINDINGS.
CLEARER STRUCTURE ON THE PIONEERING COMPANY.
THE FOUNDING FATHER Since it was founded 50 years ago, Fritschi›s most distinctive characteristics have been its innovative spirit and entrepreneurship based on self-confidence. At the age of only 27, Albert Fritschi launched his own engineering shop in Reichenbach (canton of Bern). Coming from a farming family based in Teufenthal in the Aargau, he first completed an apprenticeship with Injecta in Teufenthal before working in French-speaking Switzerland and Milan and then becoming works manager at Wandfluh AG in Kandergrund. With a talent for business, this gifted precision engineer first of all dedicated his workshop to the construction of prototypes and the development of machine tools for the production of the jewelled bearings used in watchmaking. After moving to new company premises in 1966, Albert Fritschi extended his production capacity. Alongside the manufacture of Gertsch ski bindings, Albert Fritschi also developed and produced newspaper folding machines and precision drawing boards. In 1972, the company employed 65 people. During the seventies, Albert Fritschi further developed these boards to create a wide range of drawing systems. Before the age of computers and plotters, these drawing systems were an indispensable tool for all designers. Thanks to their acknowledged accuracy in precision engineering applications, Fritschi was able to make a name for himself in this sector. The silver medal awarded to Fritschi’s drawing boards at the 1979 Inventors› Fair was a fitting reward for the company’s efforts.
THE PATH TO AN IN-HOUSE BINDING It was with the same high commitment to quality that Fritschi produced the first Gertsch plate bindings in 1966. What started out as a one-off commission was gradually to develop into a long-term business activity. In 1979, Fritschi acquired the production and marketing rights as well as the patents for the ski bindings from Gertsch. Andreas Fritschi, the family›s oldest son and a qualified engineer recognized the development potential of touring bindings. Together with his brother Christian, who was responsible for commercial matters, and in cooperation with his supportive father, he gave careful consideration to possible design improvements. The result was a new binding that was safer, lighter and more stable. The reward for all these efforts came in 1984: the first major order placed by the Swiss army for the new Fritschi touring binding. Between 1984 and 1989, Fritschi supplied the army with a total of 70,000 pairs of touring bindings. For Albert Fritschi, this was fitting recognition of his hard work and achievements. Looking back, however, Fritschi was just at the start of its work on the perfect binding for the «Perfect Day». Parallel to its touring binding activities, Fritschi also invested in other winter sports fields with the development of snowboard bindings. This was in 1986 and met with outstanding success, The Fritschi brothers now had to decide whether to concentrate their strategy on the snowboard sector or to develop a new touring binding. Andreas and Christian opted for the second of these alternatives.
QUANTUM LEAP THE FT 88 TOURING BINDING (LEFT) AND THE REVOLUTIONARY DIAMIR (BELOW) UPHOLD THE COMPANY’S MOTTO: “INGENIOUSLY SIMPLE – SIMPLY INGENIOUS”.
THE HUGE LEAP TO GLOBAL MARKET LEADER STATUS (1995-2010) Since 1981, Fritschi has been a regular exhibitor at ISPO, the Munich-based international trade fair for sports products. Here, using the slogan «Touring bindings for safety-conscious skiers», Christian Fritschi presented the Fritschi-Tour FT88 binding for the first time at a modest stand measuring just five metres by three with a small table for receiving visitors at the back. The great technological advance came in 1995 with «Diamir». Diamir means «King of the Mountains» and it represents a new generation of lightweight, safe and easyto-use bindings. With a completely new design based on the philosophy «ingeniously simple – simply ingenious», Diamir revolutionized the design of touring bindings. With Diamir, Fritschi was very quickly able to open up the market and establish a position for itself as a leading manufacturer of touring bindings. In 2000, the growth generated by this product enabled the company to build new premises in Reichenbach›s Hauptstrasse where production, development, sales and warehousing are now housed under a single roof.
BETWEEN 1984 AND 1989, FRITSCHI SUPPLIED THE ARMY WITH A TOTAL OF 70,000 PAIRS OF TOURING BINDINGS.
ENGINEERING IN THE SERVICE OF FREERIDERS AND TOURING SKIERS The development of the first genuine freeride binding with a walking function was of crucial importance for the acquisition of this leading position. Since then, Fritschi has worked hard to optimize its products in order to give touring skiers and freeriders an unparalleled high-altitude experience. The main focus is on ease of use and movement. Diamir users can activate the touring function without having to take off the binding. It is equally easy to operate the four-position heel elevator using the ski pole in order to adapt optimally to the slope of the terrain. The lat-
USING LEAN PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES, IT IS PERFECTLY POSSIBLE TO BE COMPETITIVE IN SWITZERLAND. THE DESIGN OF THE AXION CRAMPON (TOP) WAS A CLASSICAL PIECE OF INNOVATION FROM FRITSCHI. IT IS SAFE AND EXTREMELY COMFORTABLE. IN FACT, PERFECT FOR THE ASCENT TO THE MONTE ROSA HUT. (RIGHT)
est generation of Diamir bindings possesses all types of high-tech sophistication – ingenious and simple at the same time. They are exceptionally comfortable when touring and offer outstanding downhill performance. DEMANDING ASSEMBLY WORK AND EXACTING PRACTICAL TESTS With 166 separate parts, Fritschi bindings are now as complex as a mechanical timepiece. Fritschi commissions all the components, which are made from a wide range of materials such as aluminium, plastics and stainless steel, from manufacturers in Switzerland. The actual assembly is broken down into a series of carefully planned steps. Following assembly, every binding is subjected to an individual system test. In ski sports applications, operating safety is the highest priority and all the binding models therefore comply with DIN/ISO requirements and have been certified by TÜV, the German safety testing organization. Fritschi products owe their success to their superior design. This results from intensive testing of new ideas on CAD systems and in practice. Andreas Fritschi and Stefan Ibach test every new development personally following the laboratory phase. Testing of the prototypes in the snow involves cumulative altitude changes of at least 100,000 metres and makes it possible to assess the reliability of the design. In everything he does, Andreas Fritschi remembers his father›s words. Albert would constantly ask: «Will it hold?» For this practical engineer, a simple, stable design was always the highest priority. COMMITMENT TO SWITZERLAND AS A PRODUCTION SITE Fritschi in Reichenbach is an excellent example of a competitive Switzerland succeeding on the global stage. Fritschi also chooses Swiss companies as its suppliers. «Using lean production techniques, it is perfectly possible to be competitive in Switzerland,» says Stefan Ibach who has been working in this family- run company since 1999.
A SPIRIT OF MUTUAL APPRECIATION AND GENERAL RESPECT RUNS THROUGHOUT THE COMPANY. Managing Director since 2004, he and his team have continued to develop the Fritschi business. Team-oriented structures with flat hierarchies and efficient processes based on the use of modern tools make it possible to supply these high-tech products to export markets at a competitive price. Customers worldwide benefit from a client-oriented sales and marketing organization with top-quality service provided by skilled, well trained distributors in 32 countries. A sophisticated quality assurance system ensures that the bindings meet their users› high expectations under the exacting conditions of use they are exposed to. Corporate Communications have developed a unique positioning for the company and provide a varied mix of advertising, sales promotion activities and practical operations that take account of local circumstances. Consequently, Diamir bindings can be presented attractively and persuasively despite the limited resources available. While the company has both adapted its existing structures and created new ones, it has also promoted a team culture based on shared values. In modern premises adjacent to the Spiez-Kandersteg and Bern-Milan railway link, cooperation at every level forms the basis for efficient workflows. Everyone is welcome to think about possible innovations and make suggestions wherever they feel fit. Above all, Fritschi believes in encouraging its employees to think consciously about the processes involved and openly exchange their ideas. «Only this way can we ensure that our employees are truly motivated and committed,» says Stefan Ibach. This approach makes it possible to compensate for the high cost base through
ON THEIR WAY UP: SKI TOURING IS INCREASINGLY ENJOYING RECOGNITION AS A PERFECT COMPLEMENT TO CLASSICAL DOWNHILL. FREERIDING (LEFT) CALLS FOR ADVANCE SKIERS AND PERFECT EQUIPMENT.
THE SECRET OF FRITSCHI’S PRODUCTION IS ALL ABOUT SUPERIOR DESIGN.
efficiency. In 2009, the Fritschi brothers acted in good time to secure the company›s long-term future and continued activity at its present site by entrusting its succession to von Nordeck, a group that shares its philosophy and values. Fritschi AG Swiss Bindings is now a typical family-owned medium-sized business.
A LEAN MANUFACTURE AND A THOROUGHLY EFFICIENT STRUCTURE. THE PRODUCTION LINE (ABOVE), BELOW: THE PRINT SHOP.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS With a philosophy based on innovations that satisfy clear-cut needs, Fritschi is confident of retaining its position as the leading supplier of touring bindings operating from its Reichenbach production site. Outdoor sport in an unspoilt natural environment is a wonderful experience that is becoming increasingly popular. In some regions, ski touring is only just beginning to emerge. Fritschi›s list of export markets is growing longer every year. Recently, the company even received enquiries from Kyrgyzstan for touring bindings from Reichenbach. The combination of stable markets, outstanding technical skills, efficient, high-quality production and a secure, long-term capital base provide a solid basis for the next 50 years.
OPTIMIZED TOOTHING FACILITATES INTERLOCKING IN ICE AND SNOW.
DIAMIR EAGLE â€“ WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT!
ritschi has developed DIAMIR EAGLE to meet the new demands made by touring skiers. This innovation represents a new dimension in ski bindings, both in terms of walking comfort and safety. A high-performance binding in every sense, it is astonishingly light and brings together every aspect of Fritschiâ€™s expertise. At the heart of the design lies the newly developed Diamir Gliding Technology. This sophisticated solution to two contradictory requirements placed on touring bindings unites walking comfort with safety. Thanks to Diamir Gliding Technology, it is possible to place the point of rotation at the optimum position. This allows the foot to roll off naturally. Walking comfort is significantly improved. A mobile base plate guarantees complete freedom of movement even in extreme situations when the natural walking angle is exceeded. At the same time, Diamir Gliding Technology sets new standards for the integration of state-of-the-art safety technology. And DIAMIR EAGLE also boasts other new features: The wider front hinge support increases torsional rigidity when ascending and improves the transmission of power during descents. The larger base of the heel damping element at the rear further optimizes power transmission during descents. The new climbing aid is ergonomically optimized and easier to use.
DIAMIR FREERIDE PRO – PERFECTION IN FREERIDE MOUNTAINEERING
or pow(d)er freaks, there is no real alternative to the Diamir Freeride Pro with Power Transmission Control. For the ultimate freeriding experience, the DIAMIR FREERIDE PRO’s Power Transmission Control (PTC) is the decisive element in an unforgettable deep snow adventure. Developed by Fritschi, this technology ensures absolutely outstanding direct power transmission and, thanks to its stability, excellent descent characteristics. In the front part of the touring bindings, this is ensured by means of a stable hinge support and, at the rear, by the special PTC plate. A special bonus comes in the form of an extremely comfortable walking function. Furthermore, DIAMIR FREERIDE PRO is the ideal choice thanks to its optimized ease of use and low weight. As you would expect, it also comes with the standard safety features for downhill bindings as well as compatibility with all standardized Alpine and touring boots.
THE HIGH-PERFORMANCE BINDING OPENS UP A NEW DIMENSION AND IS AT THE SAME TIME ASTONISHINGLY LIGHT.
DIAMIR EXPERIENCE – THE PERFECT ALL-ROUND BINDING
iamir Experience is a classic in the touring ski world and the ideal model for beginners. Diamir Experience combines all Fritschi’s expertise, technology and quality.
A DISTILLATION OF FRITSCHI EXPERTISE, LEADING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY AND QUALITY, ALL AT A FANTASTIC PRICE.
AXION, A TRUSTY MOUNTAIN COMPANION
ABSOLUTELY AMAZING DIRECT POWER TRANSMISSION AND, THANKS TO ITS STABILITY, EXCELLENT FOR DOWNHILL.
n the mountains, proper equipment is crucial. And that goes all the way down to the crampons. These give tourers the grip they need during ascents or when crossing difficult terrain. They also provide stability in icy snow conditions. They therefore fulfil an important safety function. The increased resistance while walking tempts many users to mount crampons on their skis only when the situation becomes a little tricky. However, fitting crampons in difficult conditions can be a dangerous operation. Fritschi has found a creative solution to this conflict between safety and comfort: the DIAMIR AXION. This crampon, which is revolutionary of its kind, remains located in the binding. Ingenious and simple at the same time, it can be deployed and retracted using the ski pole depending on the situation. The optimum position beneath the ball of the foot combined with the cramponâ€™s new shape increases stability and grip.
2000 Fritschi’s “Skyhøy” is the
1975 Fritschi develops a
1984 A major order from the
universal drawing and writing
Swiss Army for 70,000 pairs of
board. Production star ts up
the FRITSCHI TOUR FT 88/A
1995 With the DIAMIR Fritschi
fi rst telemark binding with
2006 Introduction of the
launches a revolutionary
a safety release and is as easy
DIAMIR FREERIDE Plus with
touring binding system. A
to secure as a downhill binding.
PTC (Power Transmission
lightweight construction, easier
Control) technology, which
to use than any previous model,
facilitates signifi cantly more
with all the safety features
direct transmission of power.
of a downhill binding.
the same year.
1960 ALBERT FRITSCHI
2001 Launch of the DIAMIR
founds A. Fritschi, Apparate-
1996 Presentation of the RA-
FREERIDE, the fi rst genuine
2009 Introduction of the
bau, a sole proprietorship,
VE, the fi rst genuine binding
freeride binding with walking
DIAMIR EAGLE with gliding
in Reichenbach i.K. (Bern).
for carving, with integrated
technology. A new dimension in
1987 The world’s fi rst
The precision engineering shop
walking comfort and safety.
stand height and free-gliding
focuses on building prototypes
1977 Production of the fi rst
manufacturer of series-
and developing machines for
Ger tsch plate ski bindings
produced snowboard plate
the production of jewelled
with walking function
bindings: the VERTON
generation of the RAVE, the
bearings for watches.
(touring binding). The sole
snowboard plate binding
EVO 3, with the POWERRIDE,
proprietorship becomes a
based on the FT 88 touring
FREERIDE and EASYRIDE
limited company. From now
2002 Introduction of the third
Succession agreement with the von Nordeck Group to secure the company’s long-term future and continuity at the presentday location.
on, A. Fritschi, Apparatebau, operates under the name
1997 Launch of the second
Fritschi AG, Apparatebau.
generation of the RAVE,
1964 Alber t Fritschi produces the prototypes for Ger tsch
1979 The company takes
plate ski bindings.
over the ski binding patents together with the production and distribution rights from Ger tsch.
the EVO 2
1988 Fritschi distributes soft
2005 Unveiling of the
bindings for snowboarders
innovative AXION crampon:
under the motto: «Just step in,
this can be activated and deactivated without leaving
push down and go». 2000 Move into modern new
premises in the Hauptstrasse 1966 The company moves
in Reichenbach. From now on,
into new production premises
the development, production,
2010 With the DIAMIR
in Faltschenstrasse where
warehousing, distribution and
FREERIDE PRO, Fritschi sets
it makes Ger tsch plate ski
1980 Launch of Fritschi’s fi rst
management of Fritschi AG
up a new benchmark in
bindings (without walking
binding developed in-house:
Swiss Bindings are housed
the FRITSCHI TOUR FT 88.
under a single roof.
FROM HEADQUARTERS IN A REMOTE POCKET OF THE BERNESE OBERLAND, FRITSCHI SUPPLIES CUSTOMERS IN 32 COUNTRIES.
EUROPE HAS DISCOVERED FRITSCHI IN THE
COURSE OF THE
HAS AGENTS IN
PAST FEW YEARS.
HAS ITS OWN
AUSTRALIA ARE THE MOST DISTANT OF THESE.
FRITSCHI PRODUCES IN REICHENBACH IN THE KANDERTAL, WHICH CONNECTS THE BERNESE OBERLAND WITH THE CANTON OF VALAIS. IT LIES IN THE SHADOW OF THE EIGER, MÖNCH AND JUNGFRAU MOUNTAINS AND IS THE NATURAL BASE FOR A FIRM SPECIALIZING IN WINTER SPORT.
FRITSCHI AG SWISS BINDINGS HAUPTSTRASSE 9 CH-3713 REICHENBACH TEL.: +41-(0)33-672 14 15 FAX: +41-(0)33-672 14 10 E-MAIL: INFO@DIAMIR.COM WWW.FRITSCHI.CH