In focus

CPH marks its bicentenary with a huge party and gala dinner

The CPH Group celebrated the 200th anniversary of its foundation in style with a gala dinner followed with a major public party on its original Uetikon (Zurich) site on Saturday 26 May. And thousands came in the excellent weather to join in the festivities.

“If your company has been around for 200 years, you must be doing something right,” said guest of honour Swiss Minister of Economic Affairs Johann Schneider-Ammann (on the left side of the picture) to the 500 invitees at the CPH Group’s gala dinner to crown its bicentennial celebrations. “As the former CEO of the Ammann Group, which has also been in business for a century and a half,” Schneider-Ammann continued, “I know how hard it is to keep passing on the family baton. But it’s family firms like these that are the backbone of the Swiss economy.”

The festivities were held on the site of the original 1818 factory in Uetikon beside Lake Zurich. And Peter Schaub, Chairman of the Board of Directors of CPH Chemie + Papier Holding AG and the seventh-generation representative of the founding (and still shareholding) family, offered a brief history of the site over the intervening decades. “The key activities here were the 150 years of providing Swiss industry with sulphuric acid and the 140 years of supplying the Swiss agricultural sector with fertilizer,” he said. “And in both these areas, the Uetikon chemicals factory had a total market monopoly.”

Over the past few years, however, the Uetikon plant declined in economic importance for the CPH Group, and production ceased of both sulphuric acid and fertilizer. The Chemistry Division today is the smallest of CPH’s three business divisions. But it is still one of the world’s leading suppliers in the silicate chemistry field, with production facilities in Switzerland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the USA and China.

Peter Schaub (on the right side of the picture) also thanked the thousands of current and former employees “who have led and continue to lead our industrial group through all the changes and the challenges of the past 200 years with all their passion and their commitment.”

CPH had a thank-you to the people of Uetikon, too: a lavish party with a host of attractions. A Ferris wheel provided a unique bird’s-eye view of the 66,000-square-metre site, while a historic steam locomotive made half-hourly trips on the factory’s railway system. There were stalls and stands galore as well offering food, drinks and further entertainment. And to crown it all, the thousands of visitors enjoyed excellent weather throughout.

To bring things up to date, the CPH Group also used one of the site’s former warehouses to present an appealingly accessible exhibition of the Group’s present-day paper, packaging and chemistry products. At the same time, a series of old black-and-white films and further exhibits offered fascinating insights into the working worlds of the past two centuries, and also highlighted the strong social commitment of the founding family.

The Uetikon site has been sold to Canton Zurich and the municipality of Uetikon. The site will now be reused to provide a new cantonal high school.