Marked by decisive political, economic and social turning points in Switzerland, Polytype’s history mirrors the development of the Swiss precision industry. As an indirect offshoot of WIFAG, a Bern-based company specializing in newspaper printing machines, Polytype was born of several decisive factors that coincided in Fribourg in the 1950s-1960s. At that time, the Swiss peasantry, mostly made up of very small farms, was gradually renewing itself in the industrial sector.
This new workforce became workers to keep pace with and support the economic and social developments of the time, and joined Polytype, which was officially founded in 1962. The year in which the company marketed its first tube printing machine with its historic dry offset printing technology. The following year, Polytype strengthened its industrial position with the launch of an innovative cup printing machine.
In 1990, Polytype made a decisive move by acquiring American Production Machinery. This strategic move was made with a view to establishing a foothold in the American market, and at the same time opening the door to Latin America.
A strategy that paid off, as the group’s American entity, now known as Polytype America Corp, continues to reinforce the group’s controlled international reach.
Continuing its expansion strategy, this time in additional printing technologies, Polytype acquired the German company Mall + Herlan in 1995. This move enabled the company to benefit from additional know-how, particularly in the field of metal packaging.
The takeover also led to the creation of promising new synergies with its historic Fribourg site. The latter supplies its new German partner with certain units on its production lines. A synergy that underlines the organic and integrative nature of the Group’s commercial and technological development.
The 2000s marked another decisive turning point for Polytype, with the founding of Polytype Asia Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2006. This process of internationalization enabled the group to gain a foothold in the Asian market, while at the same time optimizing financially some of its manufacturing processes.
A strategy that has paid off, and today enables Polytype to have reversed the proportion of purchasing and production of its industrial components. By producing 20% and purchasing 80% of the components of its production units, particularly from its Asian partner, Polytype manages to optimize the cost of its manufacturing processes.
This international configuration, between Switzerland, the United States and Asia, reflects the current limits defined and maintained by the group to avoid an overly sustained and risky expansion policy.
If the industry of printing on tubes, cups and other containers remains for the moment firmly attached to historical industrial processes, such as dry offset printing, digital processes are developing in parallel. A slow evolution but which, gently but surely, should one day establish itself in the industry.
With this in mind, Polytype reinvests a significant portion of the profits it generates in research and development in the field of digital technologies. Enough, when it will prove necessary, to make a rapid strategic shift towards these new modes of production.
If Polytype’s success is partly due to its excellence in industrial and technological know-how, it is also due to its corporate culture. A culture based on the foundation of two fundamental values: respect and trust, both towards its employees and towards its partners and customers.
Key values, established in a corporate culture by Ursula Wirz, who inherited the company after the Second World War.
Today, these values and their incarnation by concerned management teams continue to make Polytype a major economic and social player in the region.
An economic and social aura which is reflected in its supporting role in training the next generation, with more than 1,100 apprentices trained in its Fribourg premises since the 1960s.
The same goes for professional pensions and well-being at work, with the creation of provident funds for employees following the foundation created by Ursula Wirz before her death, into which she took care to transfer all her fortune, including the company Polytype.
Finally, let’s also mention that the company is among the first in Switzerland to have introduced a free working schedule, based on the trust it shows in its employees and their devotion and loyalty, demonstrated by long careers within the group.
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