Content - History
SWISS AUTOMOTIVE GROUP - History
In 1930, almost 61,000 cars were authorised in Switzerland – an incredible figure when one considers that 20 years earlier only 2,276 cars were travelling on Swiss roads. That's why Jean-Jacques Derendinger refused to be deterred from his chosen course, even in economically difficult times. The vehicles needed maintenance and replacement parts, the service life of individual components was short and even with the moderate levels of traffic back then accidents did occur. The most comprehensive possible service package for automobile owners opened up a large field of activity with potential – and Jean-Jacques Derendinger founded a trading company in Zurich for “brake and coupling materials”. The cantonal capital city formed the best starting point for this. After all, in 1930, Zurich was already an important economic centre with a great deal of capital and a strong reputation. “Customer-friendly, reliable and fast” – the motto of the company founder characterised the rise of the company, which was changed into a limited liability company in 1942. But the automobile market was shaken by crises time after time, especially during the Second World War as the number of cars sank back to the level of 1923. These challenges made Derendinger and his employees inventive. For example, a coupling repair service was set up and a special brake facing was developed from the Wallis.
From the middle of the 1950s, Derendinger was opening a new branch almost every year. After the death of the company founder in 1972, the management of the company was taken over by his son-in-law Dr Jörg Schürmann and his longtime companion Georg Hartmann. Jean-Jacques Derendinger thus was not able to see how the range was continually expanded or the move to the office building in Zürich-Dietlikon. In 1987, the limited liability company became a public limited company. Derendinger reacted to the repeated turbulence in the automobile market with a forward-looking strategy, targeted acquisitions, streamlined structures and internationalisation. In 1997, Sandro Piffaretti took over the shares of the Schürmann und Derendinger families. Providing clear succession within the Piffaretti family, Sandro Piffaretti also took over the shares of his mother and became the sole shareholder of Derendinger in January 2008.
Métraux Services SA
The history of the Swiss Automotive Group is only half of the story, however. The second strand of the story begins in 1967 in Lausanne, as Michel Métraux opened a large filling station with 20 filling pumps and a shop for car accessories. Shortly afterwards, he was marketing maintenance accessories and service parts, such as fan belts or wiper blades, under the brand name Autotyp. In 1971, Michel Métraux took over the management of Huiles Minérales SA, the company of his father-in-law. During the following years, the family business made important strides, including the introduction of Elf products in Switzerland and the patenting of the Trak snow chain. The time of acquisitions then started in the late 1980s: from then on Métraux owned companies from the recycling sector and replacement part trade among others. Somewhat later the company introduced the AD-Garage franchise: with this, independent garages join an international network of repair workshops for all brands.
The last step on the way to stark market floatation was the founding of Holding Métraux Services SA, which brought all the companies and brands together under one roof. But the year 1999 marked the end of an era for the company, as it lost its founder. His son Olivier Métraux, who had worked in the company since 1991, then took over his leadership tasks. Also after the company's floatation on the stock exchange, he continued its expansion path at home and abroad, and Métraux Services expanded its position as a partner for automobiles and HGVs in the fields of supply, support and recycling.
Swiss Automotive Group
In 2009, the two family companies Derendinger AG and Métraux Services SA, which had been successful for decades, joined together. The two leading providers of car replacement parts in Switzerland merged their businesses together as Swiss Automotive Group AG and have since then occupied fifth place in the European market. The previous brands, their independent presentation and the network of branches have been retained. The founder families do not appear in the operational business, but the two main shareholders, Sandro Piffaretti and Olivier Métraux, are represented on the board of directors as vice presidents. Swiss Automotive Group is a Swiss company with a double history and here that means doubled experience, doubled know-how and doubled success.
For further information on the project «Schweizer Standards – Aus bester Familie» see www.schweizer-standards.ch.