How does a start-up reach the age of 156? SIGVARIS GROUP was founded in Winterthur in 1864. At that time the company was called "Ganzoni and Barthelts," and the term "start-up" did not exist. Nevertheless, the medical compression textiles provider did want to keep reinventing itself – just as good start-ups do. Over 100 years of working together: Swiss Life.
The number one provider of life and pensions and financial solutions has always been there to support SIGVARIS GROUP in remaining self-determined and inventive.
Interview with Stefan Ganzoni, co-owner of SIGVARIS GROUP
SIGVARIS GROUP started out as a two-man company. How has it developed over the years? What's different today?
SIGVARIS GROUP has evolved steadily. We started out as a small haberdashery. We now have 19 companies on all five continents. And yet, surprisingly, many things have remained the same.
We have always produced and distributed highly elastic textiles. We have always been very international, although initially only in the field of fashion. Our clear focus on the medical market only really emerged in the 1960s. Since then, we have been offering elastic compression-based solutions so people can move more freely and go through life with greater self-determination. We became big by staying true to this focus.
Another important point: we have always managed our own production and we have five production facilities, including one in North America and one in South America. That shows we want to take responsibility for our value chain. Hello corporate responsibility initiative (laughs).
Tell us about the company philosophy of SIGVARIS GROUP. What has changed over time?
Our basic philosophy is dynamic. We developed from a one-family to a two-family company and we are now a group of companies. The two families are different in terms of their temperament and outlook. By observing a high level of discourse ethics, we have always managed to reach an agreement that benefits the company – and this is still a top priority.
We have developed from a textile producer to a solution provider in the health sector. That is a change and a highly complex process – and I believe we have negotiated it just as successfully as the way we cooperate within the family and the company.
How does the future look for the company? Should SIGVARIS GROUP always remain in the hands of the family?
I'm a firm believer in the concept of a family business. I believe that family businesses have a better chance of being respectable companies, staying fair and acting responsibly. My wife Susanne and I have four adult children and three grandchildren. Of course, we are thinking about how, together with the family of my nephew Christian, his wife Anita and their two independent children, we will shape our company so that future generations can still enjoy it. They've already taken over some parts. I think that's great, and of course I want that to continue.
You were already working for the family business at the age of 12. Describe your relationship with the company back then and now. What are you particularly proud of?
We used to live close to the premises in Winterthur. As a 12-year-old, I would go on the factory floor and found it fascinating, but at the same time intimidating and serious. I did small jobs, learned the ropes, checked the dyeing to see if the ribbons were running properly in the machine. The staff basically had to find something a 12-year-old boy could do. It was boring at times.
And now? Today, our group is diverse and multicultural. So, it’s a big human adventure for me. Of course, it's not always good, "funny" or cool. There are many obstacles, highs and lows, mistakes and corrections and things that aren’t right. At the same time, it's great to bring people from different cultures and languages together through a common strategy.
SIGVARIS GROUP employs over 1700 people worldwide, for whom you have a certain responsibility. What matters particularly to you in this regard?
The family owners have long discussed our values over generations, and we have created a position paper on that. But those are just words. What counts is that we want to offer our employees dignity in the workplace. I see that as a given.
Why is Swiss Life the right partner for SIGVARIS GROUP, having placed your trust in us for decades?
We take a long-term perspective, rely on trust and are proud of long-term relationships with employees, customers, partners and suppliers. We don't just change for the sake of it. If we are satisfied, we show it through loyalty. SIGVARIS GROUP and Swiss Life also have similar corporate objectives: we both want people to be able to lead a self-determined life.
Mr Ganzoni, what does it mean to you personally to lead a self-determined life?
Self-determination is really precious, and unfortunately very much under threat in times of crisis such as now. For me, self-determination means thinking freely and acting without external influence, based on a challenging look at myself and social norms. That also means being able to responsibly represent my values towards others.
Cover picture: Moritz Ganzoni-Sträuli (centre) with Stefan Ganzoni (left) and Christian Ganzoni.
SIGVARIS GROUP and Swiss Life
We started out producing simple rubber bands. Now, SIGVARIS GROUP is a leading provider of medical compression textiles. Over 100 years of working together: Swiss Life. We accompany SIGVARIS GROUP through all their ups and downs and support the family business in continuing to make self-determined decisions. SIGVARIS GROUP and Swiss Life – cooperation over generations.
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Müller Ltd Packaging and Swiss Life
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