Swiss company: Matthias Feierabend from Jakob AG

Jakob AG: A Swiss company with a global network

Combine Swiss innovation with traditional rope making? Why not, says Jakob AG. With a strong entrepreneurial spirit and the Bank for Entrepreneurs as a reliable partner, this Swiss company is achieving milestone after milestone and today has a solid international presence.

Jakob AG started out as a small Swiss company producing hemp ropes for local agricultural businesses. Revolutionary entrepreneurial spirit, dedicated professionals, and innovative products have proved to be a winning combination – over the last few years the Jakob Rope Systems brand has established itself globally as a leading rope maker. Today, this Swiss company has a network that extends far beyond Switzerland, and also has Credit Suisse by its side as a key financial partner as it continues its successful business trajectory.

The Bank for Entrepreneurs: Jakob AG is following a successful business trajectory

In the video, Matthias Feierabend, CFO and Head of HR, talks about how Emmental-based family firm Jakob AG has grown.

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Entrepreneurial spirit at Jakob AG: Taking the initiative and working together to achieve milestones

2012 saw the start of Jakob AG's relationship with Credit Suisse when the municipality of Langnau collaborated with the regional companies on the complete renovation of the local ice rink. Jakob AG, headed up by Peter Jakob, is the main sponsor of the SCL Tigers ice hockey club in Langnau and wanted to provide support for the food and event elements of the Ilfishalle stadium. In order to access the necessary debt capital, the company drew on financial assistance from Credit Suisse. This laid the foundation for a successful partnership.

2016 saw an important milestone in the history of Jakob AG and in its relationship with its financial partner when Credit Suisse assisted the Swiss company with its acquisition of Thun-based HABEGGER Maschinenfabrik AG. The bank spent several months providing in-depth advice on financial, structural, and tax issues. In addition to helping Jakob AG expand, this process also saw the company develop even greater confidence in its valuable collaboration with the bank.

In 2019, Peter Jakob instigated two major projects simultaneously: The expansion of the company's headquarters in Trubschachen, for which Credit Suisse provided the appropriate mortgage solution; and construction of a new factory for the company's subsidiary Jakob Saigon in Vietnam, which saw Credit Suisse support the company with an investment loan.

Today, the Bank for Entrepreneurs supports Jakob AG with its everyday business; for example with payment transactions and with trade finance with guarantee services and foreign exchange transactions. Credit Suisse is also on hand to provide advice and support to the Jakob family and to the company in relation to the structural preparations for company succession. In addition to legal and tax issues on the corporate side, this also includes private matters such as advance directives and personal financial planning.

The Bank for Entrepreneurs: Meeting the people behind the company

In this short interview, Reto Portmann, relationship manager for Jakob AG, talks about the mutual business relationship and provides exciting insight into the client business.

Mr. Portmann, for you, what is it that makes Jakob AG a very special client?

Reto Portmann*: When we think about our clients, we see the people themselves, not just the company. Jakob AG is a family firm that has been making history since 1904, and everyone is involved in making the decisions.

Peter Jakob is the third generation to lead the company, and he is an entrepreneur through and through. He communicates and discusses his ideas at an early stage, placing great trust in both his employees and his business partners. He is a true global citizen. In addition to its commercial activities, the Jakob family is also committed to corporate and social responsibility, and this can be seen in its involvement in the region and with the SCL Tigers ice hockey club.

So the entrepreneurial spirit is strong. In your expert opinion, would you say that this is the driving force behind achieving success as an entrepreneur?

Peter Jakob is a dynamic visionary. He dared to expand internationally early on and in 2008 founded Jakob Saigon in Vietnam – a venture that has been a complete success. What's more, he has created a working environment in Trubschachen that attracts a lot of highly educated people. The company may be long established but it is also innovative and future-focused at both personnel and product level – yet always remains true to its Emmental roots. These are definitely key elements in successful business development.

You mentioned that when you think about your clients you see the people themselves, not just the company. How do you implement this approach?

It's important to us to understand the needs of the person sitting across from us as well as those of the company itself – sustainable partnerships are built on personal relationships. And we're not looking for just a basic supplier relationship with any of our clients; our goal is to enter into strategic discussion with them.

What does strategic discussion actually mean?

Our goal is to be able to discuss visions, potential strategies, and tangible actions with our clients. We can talk with Jakob AG at this level and build this kind of sustainable relationship. We discuss matters on an equal footing and we challenge each other.

We were also able to support and advise Jakob AG and the Jakob family during the initial preparations for the company succession issue, which involved discussing some very private matters. We have built up strong mutual trust as a result, and this has taken our client relationship to a whole new level.

How would you personally like to see the ongoing business relationship with this Swiss company develop?

We very much hope that we can continue to be a strong financial partner for Jakob AG and the Jakob family, both in day-to-day business and for other personal and entrepreneurial milestones. We hope to continue this strong relationship into the next generation. This is just one of the reasons why we consider ourselves to be the Bank for Entrepreneurs.

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