The strong franc hasn't made things easy for the Swiss export industry in recent years. Schurter AG exports around 85% of its production - primarily to Europe. Christian Holzgang, CEO Schurter AG: "It's extremely important to diversify the company's export markets, particularly in order to absorb currency fluctuations. For this reason, the USA and Asia are very important markets for us. But the price isn't the only thing that matters. We have to be innovative. We have to improve ourselves, our products and our solutions on an ongoing basis. And our service has to be the best complete package on the market."
Improving is part of the corporate culture
At Schurter, ongoing optimization of products and processes isn't just a catchword: Every employee is encouraged to submit at least two improvement proposals every year - from the reception desk to the production hall and the sales team. "We call that power innovation. Everyone contributes to innovation. That's a part of the Schurter culture," says Holzgang.
The Lucerne company serves a broad spectrum of demanding customers in fields that range from industry and medical technology to automobiles and space/avionics. The proof of Schurter's dedication to ongoing improvement is its certifications. For instance, Schurter is the only Swiss company to have two products certified for the ESA (European Space Agency).
Close customer proximity
Schurter takes a multi-track approach to generating innovative ideas for products and solutions. "The close proximity that our sales and distribution employees have to the customers helps us to recognize their needs quickly and accurately. Having a close proximity to the customer and the end product means that we can spot potential problem areas at an early stage and be flexible enough to provide targeted support. This often happens as early as the engineering stage. A close proximity is invaluable," says Holzgang.
One of the results is the recently formed "Solutions" business area, which is helping to get Schurter even closer to its customers and is now providing complete solutions as well. Using the company's expertise in metal and plastics processing, circuit board assembly and component, product and process engineering, this business area works together with customers to develop tailored complete solutions.
Would you like to find out more about how export-oriented SMEs are adapting to digital transformation and how they are rethinking their business models? More on this topic at this year's Forum for Swiss Foreign Trade.
Video interview with Christian Holzgang on digitization, power innovation and the role of Switzerland as a business location