The Bamix Story
A Swiss inventor, Mr. Roger Perrinjaquet invents an entirely new type of kitchen appliance. On 6 March 1950 he applies for a patent for an "appareil menager portatif" (hand-held kitchen appliance). The application describes the world's first stick (or wand) mixer. He calls the new appliance "bamix®", an abbreviation of the French "battre et mixer" (beat and mix).
Mr. Spingler and Mr. Gschwend found the company ESGE (the name reflects the first letters of their surnames as they are pronounced: S = ES and G = GE. In the beginning the seven collaborators produce bicycle stands, electrical saws and small electrical motors.
Mr. Perrinjaquet sells the patent rights to ESGE who produce the first wand mixers towards the end of this year.
On 24 April 1955 the new bamix® wand mixer is presented for the first time to the public at the Hanover International Fair. Soon afterwards the new appliance is named Zauberstab® (magic wand) for the German market. The company has already 74 collaborators and a turnover of 1.4 million German Marks.
Bodart BV specialises in selling kitchen appliances at consumer trade fairs (they are present at 60 of these fairs in the Netherlands). At a small fair in Valkenburg in the Netherlands, they carry out trial sales. Not only do they sell very well but they also come to realise that the most effective way to convince potential customers of the usefulness of this small but expensive appliance is through a "live demonstration"! In rapid succession, Mr. Walter Bodart is appointed bamix® distributor for The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg. Under the direction of his two sons (Peter and Johann), the company is still the exclusive distributor for bamix® in the Benelux countries today.
A Swiss company in Basel, Switzerland is asked to investigate the production under licence of bamix® for the Swiss market.
Collaborators of Bodart in Belgium load their utensils into their cars, drive to Sweden and demonstrate at the consumer trade fair in Stockholm. The 834 bamixes® sold in this fair exceed all previous sales in the country. Shortly afterwards a test is carried out at the "Flower Show" in Oslo, Norway where an incredible 1332 units are sold. Based on this success Mr. Bodart sets up agencies in all Scandinavian countries.
ESGE - Export in Glarus (Switzerland) is founded and becomes responsible for exports to member countries of EFTA (European Free Trade Association) - i.e. Great Britain, Finland, Austria, Portugal, Switzerland and Ireland. Administration is centralised and taken care of by the newly founded ESGE International in Zurich. In addition, ESGE France is founded and produces for the EEC (European Economic Community) countries Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg and France.
In November 1960 ESGE AG, a further production company is founded and a factory building (former textile factory built in 1906) is bought in Mettlen, Switzerland (in the north-eastern, German-speaking part of Switzerland). In the course of the year, production of bamix® commences at a daily rate of 250 units.
Teams from the Netherlands and Belgium exhibit regularly at British shows and this country quickly becomes the most important market for bamix®. Demand for products is so high that for some time, deliveries are delayed as production struggles to meet this demand.
The shape of the bamix® M 60 (60 watt) is redesigned by Acton Bjorn (Denmark) and Duke Sigvard Bernadotte (Sweden). Great importance is paid to arrive at an anatomically appropriate form and the result of their work is the Model M 100. Even now, 50 years later, and despite of many technical improvements and detail alterations, the original form can still be clearly recognised.
The number of bamixes® produced now passes the million mark. Production under licence begins in Italy and Spain.
In Germany the output capacity is increased and in Japan the trading company NIPPON ESGE K.K. is founded.
From 1958 some other products (small vacuum cleaners, citrus presses, toasters, meat slicers, electrical plate warmers, hairdryers) had been added to the production and/or sales programme. Although sold under the ESGE brand, these products were never successful. In Germany, (a market representing 2/3 of the total turnover), sales of the bamix® almost grind to a halt. By contrast, the administrative machinery had developed to a considerable size.
Mr. Gschwend and Mr. Spingler sell their company to General Electric, the largest producer of electrical goods in the USA. The Americans try to get the company back on its feet and close down most of the factories - only Mettlen, Switzerland and Neuffen, Germany remain.
From a low level, bamix® sales slowly increase. At the Foire de Bruxelles 2,000 bamixes® are sold - the highest ever turnover achieved at a trade fair.
General Electric decides to sell the ESGE Group. At that time, Mr. Bodart is the most important customer for bamix® (approx. 2/3 of sales). He represents bamix® in the Benelux countries, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Great Britain and Ireland. Mr. Bodart buys the plant in Switzerland and all rights for bamix® and the Zauberstab®. Thus ESGE in Mettlen becomes the only production plant for bamix®. The first step Mr. Bodart takes is to reduce bureaucratic machinery.
The business philosophy Mr. Bodart pursues is very simple: quality above quantity - and - concentration on one product only - and - as little red tape as possible! These basics are still in use today.
bamix® sales are back to an annual turnover of more than 100,000 units.
Up to now bamix® was sold almost exclusively in Europe. The boom years following Second World War are already history and the first recession (triggered by the oil crisis) has become a reality. In 1974 a South African company starts selling the bamix® and realises respectable sales. The once important German market recovers very slowly and the Zauberstab® is present only in retail. For the first time in some years, sales in Germany surpass those of Switzerland - a country that is ten times smaller.
The "Cassette" model is added to the range of models. The Cassette allows the bamix® and all its attachments to be clearly arranged in one place.
In Germany the once so successful consumer fairs are attended only sporadically. This sales channel is now managed by a specialist company and Mr. Rathke succeeds in increasing sales in this channel very considerably in the years to come.
In August 1977 ESGE participates in the Melbourne Home Show. This first non-European exhibition is so successful (close to 1,000 units) that additional bamixes® have to be flown to Melbourne during the Show. Consequently our Australian distributor founds bamix Australia Ltd. and soon bamix® becomes one of the most well known brands in this country. At the same time as the Melbourne Home Show, another team demonstrates the bamix® successfully at a show in Reykjavik, Iceland.
The next show outside of Europe takes place in Singapore. Our new Singapore distributor has quite some doubts due to our relatively high price in this very competitive market. However, Singaporeans also fall in love with this versatile high-quality kitchen appliance.
In the same month, the same bamix® team travels to Los Angeles and demonstrates there successfully for four weeks, from morning till night.
This year with more than 3,000 units sold, the Amsterdam show exceeds the previous record of the Brussels show.
In this year bamix® is demonstrated at a large number of fairs, such as in Malta, Cyprus, Greece, Malaysia and Indonesia. Production at the plant rises steadily.
In the early 80s a Japanese lady purchases a bamix® from our (not very successful) distributor. She works with the bamix®, trying out many Japanese and even European recipes. Ms. Sakurako Ide falls in love with the appliance and shows it to her friends, who then also want to buy this fantastic machine. Soon Ms. Ide organises cooking parties with friends who in turn also start to have parties - and thus raise interest in the bamix®. Sales grow steadily and Ms. Ide becomes the exclusive distributor of bamix® for Japan as a result. The dedication and hard work of our Japanese friends have made bamix® a real success story - and this in a market with the most demanding consumers.
The existing factory becomes too small and a new extension is added to the existing shop, thus doubling the production space. In the same year, successful fairs are held in Kyushu, Japan and Nairobi, Kenya.
bamix® is sold at fairs in South Africa, Hong Kong and Brunei.
First contacts are made with a company in Sri Lanka, and in Santiago, Chile one of our teams demonstrates the bamix®.
Thanks to very great efforts of the promotion and sales teams in Australia, bamix® reaches its highest per capita turnover worldwide. Sales in Thailand grow steadily and sales in Sri Lanka reach rather unexpected heights. Daily production reaches 1,600 units.
bamix® celebrates its 30th birthday. No doubt, there are not many electrical household items which reach this age and which are still becoming more and more popular.
After many years of very hard work, Mr. Bodart (who owned the company for 15 years) wants to ease off. In a management buyout the 3 managers - Mr. Max Ruttimann (Technical), Valentin Gunsch (Finance), and Werner Stahl (Marketing) take over the ownership of the company. Mr. Bodart remains President for many years to come.
In the same year, the bamix® processor is launched. This attachment allows the grinding not only of dry but also of wet ingredients.
We all know that thousands of professional chefs use the bamix® in their kitchens. What we do not know is the fact that German TV broadcasts the programme "Cooking like God in Germany". We also do not know that most of the famous chefs who participate take along their own Zauberstab® and use it for their recipes. It is only when a customer makes us aware of this we understand why orders from Germany are suddenly increasing to a level that sees us run into capacity problems.
One employee from ESGE and a local student present and demonstrate the bamix® at the Swiss Fair in Seoul, Korea. We meet with exceptional interest and find a local distributor. Three years later - after some start-up problems - the demand becomes so significant that we have to ship most of the units by air.
George McBride specialises in demonstration selling at Canadian fairs. We reject his first order for bamix® on the grounds that bamix® does not comply with Canadian regulations (which - if met - would degrade our bamix® to a ordinary stirrer). George tells us that the regulations had just been altered and so we supply our first bamix® to Canada.
UNOLD, one of the German sub-distributors takes over the retail distribution division for the German market. Thanks to the outstanding efforts of Mr. and Ms. Unold (and later their children and children-in-law) the Zauberstab® regains its former prominent position in German retail.
Various professional chefs ask us to produce a bamix® "just 5 cm longer". After very long practical tests in hotel kitchens, we launch the "bamix® Gastro" - a model for professionals which becomes more successful than we had expected.
In the same year the Swiss bamix® distributor becomes part of the bamix® Group.
bamix® has been sold in Japan for many years and the really demanding consumers are very satisfied with our quality. Based on this, the largest Japanese direct selling company includes bamix® (as its first outside product) in its sales programme.
After some years of problems with various distributors, Kevin and Alison Gilbert take over the distribution in Great Britain. Five years later they realise a record sales turnover at the Ideal Home Exhibition in London.
Most people find it hard to believe that ESGE produces only one type of appliance - and this same product for 40 years.
Not long after the fall of the Iron Curtain, we are able to introduce the bamix® in the former Communist countries (i.e. Hungary, Russia, Poland, etc.).
The design of the bamix® was created in 1961. It may well be described as one of the most outstanding industrial designs in history (see also 2001). No basic change in design has been made in all these years but the product now undergoes a "soft" redesign by a Swiss designer. At the same time, the new twin-switch safety switch is introduced and the Cassette is also given a more modern shape.
A journalist from "De Telegraaf" newspaper enters one of our distributor's shops in the Netherlands. He actually wants to buy a new bamix® but takes along his defective bamix® which is more than 30 years old. He can hardly believe it but he leaves the shop with his old bamix® repaired. After some further research into the product and the company, he publishes a double-page article in the newspaper's Sunday edition. In the following days, the phones at our distributor ring off the hook. It's not just readers who want to order but also customers who are proudly calling to say that they too are using very old bamix® appliances.
The book "50 Klassiker - Design des 20. Jahrhunderts" (50 classic designs of the 20th century) is published. We are proud that the ESGE-Zauberstab® is prominently mentioned in this book together with products like Levi's jeans, the bikini, Chanel N0. 5, Concorde, Swatch, the Sony Walkman, Lego and others.
"SwissLine", the successor of the bamix® top model "Cassette" is launched. The entirely splashproof construction with the "softgrip" switch and the futuristic design of the "Swiss Line" stand meet with a very positive response from consumers.
For decades we were forced to say: "bamix® can do everything except slice and grate". Now, after three years of intensive development and extensive testing, the new "SliceSy®" does all this work perfectly. Moreover, the new attachment is easy to handle and easy to clean: the typical bamix advantages. This new attachment is certainly a milestone in the history of bamix®.
This year is another important year in the interesting history of bamix®. The three owners are getting older and they are keen to ensure the future of the product and the company. Their profile of a buyer and successor is straightforward: the buyer needs to ensure that the existing corporate policy (centring on the word "quality") continues. Mr. Erich Eigenmann intends to do exactly this and an agreement is quickly reached. As of 1 October Mr. Eigenmann begins his tenure as CEO and thus as the new Mr. Bamix.
The company begins its association with British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. A new model bearing his name will be manufactured and sold worldwide.
Market launch of bamix® in Russia and China. Introduction of the bamix® Gastro 350 in the HORECA sector worldwide.
After a project phase lasting several years, the Donermat (kebab cutter) is brought onto the market.
Market launch of the SliceSy® in Japan.
Move to the new warehouse in autumn.
Introduction of the new quality standards according to ISO norm 9001.
The company enters new markets in Iran, Indonesia and South Korea.
Further expansion of capacity with the addition of a third production line.