From local foundations to a "global player"
It was on 4th July 1892 when the success story of the „Tonwarenfabrik LAUFEN“ started with the production of bricks and clinkers. The company was founded by three men: Albert Borer, Johann Spillmann & Joseph Gerster-Roth.
Demand for earthenware increases to a volume that makes the construction of a second factory in LAUFEN necessary. The factory, which started production in 1898 was mainly used for the production of roof tiles and bricks as well as drainage pipes.
A canteen is installed on the premises, where quality meals are offered for the workers at 40 cents.
The acquisition of the Aktienziegelei Allschwil, the chimney production Allschwil and the brick factory Tranzer had a „positive impact on all brickyards in the LAUFEN valley“.
As a result, a third kiln is inaugurated. In the same year, the share capital of the „Tonwarenfabrik LAUFEN“ is increased to 1 Mio Swiss Francs.
Under the directive of Guido Gerster, CEO and member of the supervisory board of the Tonwarenfabrik LAUFEN, the „Aktiengesellschaft für keramische Industrie LAUFEN“ is established on 26th November. Fire clay is introduced, which enables the company to produce
washbasins and sinks.
An innovative porcelain-like material is launched under the brand name KILVIT. KILVIT is much stronger than fire clay and the pieces come out completely white and dense.
A factory is built to produce wall tiles from stone ware. Thus turning the „AG für keramische Industrie“ into the first manufacturer of wall tiles in Switzerland and serving the national construction industry during the war years.
The production of wall tiles is followed by that of floor tiles. Another factory is built in LAUFEN to produce these floor tiles from stone ware. In a difficult business environment new jobs are created.
After World War II, the Swiss Federal Railways, SBB, turns its attention to the electrification of the vast national railroad network. LAUFEN responds with the production of electro-technical
porcelain – mainly insulators – and becomes a strong supplier of SBB.
Within a short period of time, a new factory is constructed in Campo Largo, in the greater Curitiba region, by „AG für keramische Industrie LAUFEN“ to also manufacture wall and floor tiles in Brazil. The company is registered under the name of INCEPA S.A.
LAUFEN acquires the Vienna-based OESPAG (Österreichische Sanitär-Keramik und Porzellanindustrie AG) with its two Austrian production sites in Gmunden and Wilhelmsburg.
The „Keramik Holding AG LAUFEN“ is founded in response to the organisational structure needed to successfully guide the 4'000 employees at various locations in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Spain and Brazil.
The progressive development of the company necessitates new headquarters. The appointed architect is Giuseppe Gerster, a grandson of Joseph Gerster, who once founded the company.
„On Saturday 3rd August shortly before 3:00 p.m. a fire had broken out in the floor tile factory belonging to the Tonwarenfabrik LAUFEN AG. It emanated from the oil burner at kiln I. Despite the quick reaction with fire extinguishers, the fire was able to spread out, thus destroying the plant to a great extent.“ [Extract from the media]
Ceramic pressure casting, developed by Keramik LAUFEN over years, is unveiled to the public for the first time in October 1982. A process which sets new standards for the sanitary industry,
it enabled LAUFEN first to significantly boost its capacities, its efficiency as well as its range.
Issue of 140 000 share certificates at 650 SFr each.
LAUFEN focuses increasingly on design. Porsche Design is the first internationally renowned name to be consulted.
From 1992 to 1997, the company went into debt through acquisitions and embarked on the restructuring of the group which had been due for years.
LAUFEN becomes part of the ROCA group, and thus belongs to one of the largest and most influential enterprises in the bathroom and sanitary ware industry.
In 2002 LAUFEN launched ‘Tam Tam’, the world’s first standing washbasin, cast in one piece. The washbasin belongs to the design line ILBAGNOALESSI One by Stefano Giovannoni.
The LAUFEN Forum opens its doors. In addition, the Similor headquarters and production facilities are relocated to LAUFEN. This was the last step in the creation of the Swiss competence centre for bathroom culture in LAUFEN.
With the innovation of „SaphirKeramik“ LAUFEN presents a groundbreaking world novelty and sets a new standard for bathroom design.
Keramik LAUFEN celebrates its 125th anniversary.