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Tradition obliges innovation

What is now an internationally successful Swiss manufacturer of mattresses and bedding in Wangen an der Aare began not quite 300 years ago. In our three-part anniversary blog, we look at how the then 33-year-old Johannes Roth founded a horsehair spinning mill in the tranquil town of Wangen an der Aare in 1748 and what became of it. To begin with, we stay in the present, despite all the historical significance and sense of tradition.

A family business with strong roots in the region

After 275 years, roviva is still what it was at the time of its foundation: completely family-owned. For 22 years, the company has been managed by the ninth generation. Peter Patrik Roth solidly continues what his predecessors built up. Even almost 300 years after its foundation and even if the company has changed a lot during this time: The traditional location in the Swiss midlands is and remains the face of roviva. Even if the company has been renewed, grown and modernised again and again during this time, an industrial new building "on a greenfield site" would never have been an option. It would certainly not have been an option for Peter Patrik Roth or his predecessors to relocate the production site. There are close ties with Wangen an der Aare and the location in the middle of Switzerland has proven itself over the years. In addition, it is important from an operational point of view that all production steps take place in one place, and thus in Wangen an der Aare. This preserves know-how and is the basis for success. Today, about 50 people work for roviva in Wangen an der Aare. Many of the employees come from the town or the region and have been working for the company for many years. This reflects the shared history of the company and the region: for more than a quarter of a millennium, the company and the people have grown almost inseparably together. This loyalty and solidarity is very important to Peter Patrik Roth personally.

roviva relies on durable materials and circular manufacturing

Quality, innovation (more on this in the next blog) and sustainability are not a contradiction in terms at roviva. Peter Patrik Roth focuses on the quality of the raw materials used and the manufacturing process, is always looking for innovations with his employees and is increasingly committed to sustainable production and use of materials. This is not actually new, however, but also has a long tradition in Wangen an der Aare: for example, they have always built on what is geographically close at hand, which is ultimately nothing other than a form of sustainability that has been cultivated for generations. Durable materials such as natural rubber, pocket springs, Swiss virgin sheep's wool and Swiss alpaca wool are used. Since 2018, the business has been drawing district heating from the district heating power plant in Wangen an der Aare and thus manages without fossil fuels. At the beginning of 2023, the entire operation was converted to LED lighting. Sustainable or long-lasting are also the relationships with partners, suppliers and customers. In the spirit of conscious handling of resources and the environment, one also looks for ways to recycle products. Roth and roviva are among the initiators of the Swiss-wide Mattress Alliance, founded in 2021. It is looking for ways in which mattresses can be recycled and their materials can be put to other uses. Within the framework of so-called eco-design, mattresses are now being constructed under the slogan of circular production in such a way that the disassembly into the individual parts and source materials can be implemented with as little loss, effort and energy as possible.

Investments in production and distribution

This is also possible because roviva has always invested in its production facilities. They have been continuously renewed in recent years and manufacturing processes have been optimised. At the same time, the company has streamlined its distribution channels, for example by doing without an online shop or its own sales outlets, and concentrating on specialist furniture retailers in the premium segment. This cooperation ensures direct, personal contact with customers and direct advice from specialists.

Loyalty to the home market

Despite this internationality, roviva remains loyal to the domestic market: while 8 percent of sales are made abroad - the company exports successfully to Malaysia, South Korea and the USA, and currently to a lesser extent to Russia and China - the Swiss home market remains roviva's core area, accounting for 92 percent of sales. This proximity is dictated not least by the family charter of the entrepreneurial family: The company's focus must be on production as well as on Switzerland. "But even without this provision, it is undisputed for me and everyone here at roviva that we adhere to those values that have proven themselves for almost 300 years. Because they will also endure in the future," says Peter Patrik Roth.

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