As a young man, Louis Gasser started working in a small brickyard in idyllic Rapperswil in the Canton of Bern, and saved it from going under in 1918. However, to achieve his dream of owning his own brick factory, Louis Gasser first had to go against his father's wishes. The latter was not pleased that his son wanted to join this business. "My great-grandfather also had a brick factory and saw a competitor in Louis," explains Rudolf Gasser, co-owner and CEO of Gasser Ceramic, while recounting the story of his grandfather.
However, despite his father's efforts to dissuade him, Louis Gasser stuck to his plans, thereby laying the foundation for the family firm, which is now being run by the third generation – Rudolf and his cousin, Hans Gasser. A core value that has been passed down from generation to generation is quality. "Our goal is to be the best in every aspect, whether in terms of products, services, or advice," says Rudolf.
Thanks to this ambition, the SME has now become the market leader for clay products in Switzerland. "From the search for raw materials, acquiring them and using them up, all the way through to product manufacturing, we do everything ourselves and in Switzerland," explains the CEO. This especially benefits the company in times of crisis, such as during the coronavirus pandemic. This is because the company does not depend on long supply chains and was always able to deliver – at unchanged prices.
In addition to the headquarters in Rapperswil (BE), Gasser Ceramic has four other production facilities in Western and German-speaking Switzerland. The company specializes in the development, production, and distribution of clay products. These are mainly clay roof tiles and bricks for various areas of use. For example, the Panotron photovoltaic solution, which aesthetically and sustainably combines roof tiles and power generation.
That is exactly what makes the family firm unique: the combination of traditional values, market proximity, foresight, and the ambition to offer outstanding systems. "We didn't want just any photovoltaic solution – we wanted the most beautiful. That is exactly what we've achieved with our Panotron line," says Rudolf Gasser with pride. And that's not all.
The solar tile is also unique beyond Swiss borders. "Our solar tile existed before Elon Musk launched his solar panel," says the head of Gasser Ceramic. In addition to the photovoltaic solution, the company has other innovative products up its sleeve, such as the monolith brick "Capo," the world's first insulation brick filled with sheep's wool.
The world riding a "green wave" is a boon to Gasser Ceramic. After all, the brick factory processes what is likely one of the oldest building materials – clay with origins dating back 25 million years.
Clay and clay products seem to have faded somewhat into the background in recent years compared to concrete, steel, glass, and wood. But this is only partially true. "There is a good demand for clay products – perhaps not in urban construction projects, but wherever residential health and sustainability play a central role."
Rudolf Gasser has no fear that demand for clay products will cease at some point. "The advantages of fired clay will continue to play an important role, even for the building envelopes of the future," says Rudolf.
And as long as these advantages remain, Gasser Ceramic will also continue to exist – as a family firm. "The succession has been planned and it looks like in ten years the company will be run by the fourth generation of the family. This makes me incredibly happy and proud," says Rudolf with regard to the future.