roviva would not be where it is today if the company did not have its history. For in 275 years, constant change and further development have determined the company. This is how a horsehair spinning mill, where people toiled by hand, became an innovative company - including a major fire and a new start 45 years ago. But let's take it one step at a time: You can find out more in the second part of our anniversary blog.
In 1748, the then 33-year-old Johannes Roth founded a horsehair spinning mill in Wangen an der Aare, the first of its kind in Switzerland. The French envoys of King Louis XV who came and went in neighbouring Solothurn inspired him to set up the company: at that time, the French nobility slept on high-quality mattresses made of horsehair and also had their palaces and embassies in the ambassadorial city of Solothurn, where the French ambassador resided during the Ancien Regime between 1530 and 1792, furnished accordingly. The nobler patrician families in the region emulated this.
The production process of upholstery material from horsehair was elaborate and arduous manual work: In the laundry, the horsehair was washed hot with soap in the so-called levian. After washing and disinfecting under pressure and at high temperatures in an autoclave, the horsehair was sorted according to quality and colour and then stretched and arranged in parallel on large carding machines. The result was a horsehair strand whose crimp was suitable for use as upholstery material for seating, couch cushions and mattresses. Roth used it to supply saddlers and upholsterers as well as upholstered furniture manufacturers in the region.
In 1820, by now in the third generation, a significant further development of the business followed: Johannes Jakob Roth undertook significant renovations and new buildings and heralded the technical development with the commissioning of the first steam engine. With the fourth generation under Johannes Jakob Roth, the production range was diversified for the first time: In addition to the horsehair spinning mill, a dyeing and bleaching plant was built in a new factory building. In addition, sheep's wool was processed into upholstery fleece in a secondary branch. With the fifth generation, three brothers took over the helm: Jakob, Julius and Karl Roth. Jakob was responsible for the technical management of the company as an engineer. In addition, as a politician, he was president of the municipality, a member of the Grand Council and a member of the National Council, and made a significant contribution to the family business being connected to the railway network when the Gäu railway line was laid from Olten via Wangen an der Aare to Solothurn. Julius died early of a lung disease, whereupon Karl, the youngest brother, took over the commercial management. In 1879, the sole proprietorship became a general partnership and "Jacob Roth & Cie" was finally entered in the commercial register in 1892.
The sixth generation of the Roth family - with Paul (who dies early), Jakob and Adolf, again three brothers - led the company into the 20th century. Now horsehair was used for the brush industry and pig bristles for the brush industry. The company was also decisively expanded and modernised. In 1895, 1906, 1907 and 1912, buildings were erected for horsehair spinning and wool production, and in 1899 electric lighting was installed and the factory was gradually electrified. The continuous progress did not go unnoticed in the burgeoning industrial nation: The "Jacob Roth & Cie horsehair spinning mill" won gold medals at the Swiss National Exhibitions of 1896 in Geneva and 1914 in Bern. In 1928, a four-storey forwarding and storage building was built at a cost of over 100,000 Swiss francs at the time. The architect was Alfred Roth, son of Adolf, who was Le Corbusier's right-hand man for a long time.
In the constant search for innovation and further development, Paul Roth, who had been running the company with his brother Heinrich in the seventh generation since 1927, travelled to Denmark and Sweden with his father Adolf. There they studied the production of so-called moulded hair or rubberised hair, whereby the raw material was vulcanised with the addition of latex. The modern form of production was also introduced in Wangen an der Aare.
With Peter Paul Roth, the eighth generation took over the company in 1958 and played a decisive role in setting the course for the future. The father of Peter Patrik Roth, the current managing director and owner, transformed the company from a supplier to a manufacturer of finished products. In doing so, he reacted to the structural change in Swiss industry, which threatened the existence of companies that closed themselves off to change. The closure of production facilities of important customers and the decline of the textile industry forced a radical reorganisation. The horsehair mattress gave way to the new innerspring and later foam or latex foam core mattresses and to more industrial production. In 1966, Peter Paul Roth took over the general agency for natural latex from Dunlop (GB) and created the roviva brand. In addition to mattress production, the company now focused on complete solutions or bed systems. On its way to becoming a modern company, however, the company suffered a severe blow on 15 June 1978: a major fire, in which over 200 firemen were deployed, destroyed about half of the buildings and production facilities. Instead of abandoning the company, roviva Phoenix rose from the ashes: Peter Paul Roth had several buildings rebuilt, renovated others and completely redesigned production.
Until 2008, Peter Paul Roth, from 2001 together with his son Peter Patrik Roth, managed the fortunes of roviva. Until then, he was responsible for the continuous development of the company, realised new buildings for offices, production and logistics/forwarding and ensured that the production processes were always up to date. Thus, roviva is the contact point for all questions concerning healthy, restful sleep.