ZWICKY JOINS FORCES WITH GÜTERMANN
After the turn of the millenium and the merger of Zwicky and Gütermann, the executive board consisted of three people: Peter Zwicky, Clemens Gütermann and Roland Hämmerle. The sewing thread segment of Zwicky was integrated into the Gütermann Group, activities within the Automotive sector had been intensified and Zwicky Pirmasens was appointed as the centre of distribution for all technical threads.
Milestones at Zwicky
The company Zwicky started with a workshop in Wallisellen near Zurich, which Johann Caspar Guggenbühl purchased in 1840 and converted into a silk doubling mill. At that time, it was not possible to foresee that it could develop into a major enterprise. But the company founder had a good hand when it came to business, and thus the company's own dye works and houses for the workers soon appeared on the site.
1851: First expansion
As early as eleven years later, the doubling mill moved into a new building. The water of the Glatt and the Chriesbach was dammed up and supplied the factory with energy through a turbine. In 1859, another silk doubling mill in Frauenfeld was added.
1861: The next generation
After the death of the company founder, his son Johann Jacob took over the factory and extended it further. In order to improve the efficiency of silk production, which was extremely time-con- suming at that time, he developed a new working model. The winding and cleaning of the coarse Chinese and Japanese silks used as raw materials at the time was incredibly painstaking work. Trained winders could hardly process more than 500 grams of silk even in the 13 hour working days that were usual at the time. To remedy this, Guggenbühl equipped many cottages throughout the canton with little winding machines. From then on, the winding and cleaning of the home- spun yarns took place there as outwork or, in larger communities such as Fricktal, Kloten or Volketswil, in winding buildings set up specifically for this. Several hundred such machines were in use in the late 19th century. They only disappeared when the coarse silk was no longer supplied directly to Europe, but was processed in its countries of origin, China and Japan, for cost reasons.
After the death of Johann Jacob Guggenbühl, his son-in-law Fritz Zwicky took over the company and gave it the name under which it is still operating today. He also adapted the business to the altered market conditions: for, at that time, spun silk, which is much cheaper to produce, was increasing gaining in importance in comparison to the expensive pure silk threads. Consequently, the company was successful with both products – real stitching silk for embroidery and weaving and spun threads for sewing.
1903: Further expansion and internationalization
At the start of the 20th century, the company put a new doubling mill into operation and, at the same time, began to rely increasingly on exports, as the domestic market was no longer sufficient. Furthermore, Zwicky also established more and more production sites abroad, due to the constantly rising import duties. Thus, in addition to sales offices in Paris, Lyon, Prague, Krakow and Bucharest, product sites in Alsace, Gotha (Thuringia) and Vienna came into being. Shortly before the First World War, Fritz Zwicky's son Ernst and his son-in-law Carl Adolf Burckhardt joined the company as partners.
1945: Steady recovery after difficult years
In 1941, after the death of Fritz Zwicky, the company was in a crisis that it only overcame with the recovery after 1945. Thus, the company built another silk doubling mill in Fällanden in Switzerland. As a replacement for the Gotha factory, which was put into compulsory administration in the GDR, a new production site was established in the region of Pirmasens (Palatinate). With intensive research and development, the production of synthetic fibres, such as nylon and polyester, was begun, which soon outperformed the traditional fibres, such as silk and cotton.
After the death of both partners, their sons Dieter Zwicky and Christoph Burckhardt took over the management of the company in the 1960s. They were decisively involved with the expansion of the synthetic fibres. However, in view of textile production increasing relocating to Asia and the high Swiss production costs, they were also forced to take painful measures that were reflected in staff cutbacks and site closures in Vienna and Fällanden.
1982: Zwicky becomes a joint stock company
At the start of the 1980s, the company was converted to a joint stock company. In 1988, Christoph Burckhardt left the company by his own wish. In the same year, Dieter Zwicky, who was now the sole owner, died, whereupon his son Peter Zwicky took over the management of the company, taking it into the sixth generation. Under the conditions of the time, he invested in the company, restructured it and focussed production on the core area of sewing threads in the main factory in Wallisellen and at the Pirmasens site. The company was now successful due to the development of innovative products for the automotive industry.
2001: Successful together with Gütermann
At the start of the new century, the operational business was combined with that of the company Gütermann, which has a much broader base on an international level. Peter Zwicky entered the board of the long-standing competitor. Zwicky continues to exist and is intensively taking care of the conversion of its 21 hectare site with numerous properties, which is just outside the city of Zurich. Today, on the former production site for high-quality sewing threads, a new district is emerging with just as high-quality buildings for residential use and workplaces.