Survival Is Something That Comes Natural to Victorinox

, July 27, 2013 ) San Francisco, CA -- The terrorists attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York and Washington had a detrimental effect on Ibach, Switzerland based Victorinox, makers of the legendary Swiss Army Knife. This Swiss product has brand recognition around the world comparable Nike, Apple or Coca-Cola. Up until the attacks, the knives had been a duty-free souvenir sold in airport stores and accepted by security on all flights. Overnight, all sharp objects were prohibited on airplanes and sales of the red knives with the luminous white cross collapsed. "The pocket knife is a symbol of Swiss quality and dependability," says Carl Elsener Jr., fourth-generation CEO of the family-run company.

"Our company has never been as hard-hit as it was by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York and Washington," Elsener says. "We lost over 40% of our business. Airports sent vast quantities of the knife back to us." However, Victorinox was able to absorb the losses without firing any employees. "Jobs have always been a main focus for us," he says. "We really do see ourselves as a big family, in good times and bad." Ibach, a small town located in central Switzerland ships 120,000 of its knives each day. There are 350 models to choose from, ranging from the standard knife to the Swisschamp with 33 functions. When 911 happened and the company lost close to half its sales, Victorinox loaned its workers to other businesses in the area. The company remained solvent through old-fashioned virtue "Saving for a rainy day," Elsener says, "We always had reserves."

Victorinox then focused on its other products and markets. The company relied more heavily on sales of Swiss Army watches, traditional household knives and luggage. China was also a major growth factor for the company as it was for many others. "Imagine if we could sell a knife to every single Chinese!" Elsener says with a wistful smile. "And then of course there are all the knives that people lose and that have to be replaced," although, organic growth is still the focus of their business model. "We dont want to soar up like a rocket because what goes up fast comes down fast," Elsener says. The CEO sees the events of the past decade as something that has brought the companys workers and management together.



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