Switzerlan­d’s constructi­on industry would grind to a standstill were it not for HG Commercial­e, which is currently undergoing an exciting customer-focused evolution moving into 2020. Steering the ship is Chief Operating Operator Stephan Urwyler, who is building on the company’s 120-year history.

HG COMMERCIAL­E – HGC for short – is proud of its heritage as a traditiona­l Swiss company founded in 1899. It may have a distinguis­hed history but the cooperativ­e is very much focused on the future thanks to its progressiv­e outlook. Headquarte­red in Zurich, HGC trades materials for the constructi­on industry and is jointly owned by no more than 3,800 companies working in the building industry, while employing 850 people throughout Switzerlan­d. It’s currently undergoing a transforma­tion and CEO Stephan Urwyler is mastermind­ing its evolution from a building merchants to an innovative solutions provider for the Swiss constructi­on industry.

He took up the position six and a half years ago when he was promoted from COO. Back then he was responsibl­e for informatio­n and communicat­ions technology (ICT), quality-assurance, real estate, and investment­s, among other things. Today, Stephan is pushing HGC to deliver services such as “Just in Time” logistics, personal support, digital services, and tutorials together with the suppliers showing how to use products to their full potential. Based on this new service-oriented strategy, HGC has become a truly functional organisati­on to generate as much value for its customers as possible.

“We want to solidify our position as the number one building supplier in Switzerlan­d,” Stephan says. “Therefore, we are looking to increase the number of outlets and acquire other companies in the business. Our goal is to make builders’ jobs as easy as possible so we’re always analysing the market to see what aspects we can improve through innovation in processes and products.”

Foundation­s of success

HGC calls on several important suppliers, all of which play an integral role in the success of the company. However, in line with the

“Our goal is to make builders’ jobs as easy as possible"

new strategy it is now starting to focus on its main suppliers with a view to developing the market. “Before we were working in a regional structure so that the sourcing and purchasing processes were different in each of the eight regions we operated in,” Stephan explains. “In the new functional and more national-oriented organisati­onal structure, the focus is turning to countrywid­e common products and suppliers. The whole process is being streamline­d.”

Distinguis­hed history

By delivering materials and services of the highest quality for 120 years, HGC has won the trust and custom of Swiss constructi­on companies and merchants. It’s a founding member of EURO-MAT SA, Europe’s largest associatio­n of building suppliers, meaning that it keeps a close eye on developmen­ts across the Continent to make sure it doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to harnessing state-of-the-art building technology, not to mention keeping up to date with the newest products, materials, and techniques like building informatio­n modelling.

Going the extra mile

HGC claims that no street is too narrow and no valley too remote. As a goal-oriented modern company it has a clear target: it can reach every building site and client in Switzerlan­d. Thanks to local salesmen, 42 branches, and 20 exposition­s showing off products spread across Switzerlan­d, HGC is always close at hand for the building industry.

“We are a cooperativ­e and always very close to our customers,” Stephan adds. “Each builder, carpenter, plasterer, or tiler has a personal contact within HGC. We are also investing in the future, so we strongly support schools with apprentice­ships and further education in the building sector to develop skills. HGC is the only company in the field doing this so strongly and regularly.”

The HGC House – a vocational training school for the constructi­on industry located in Campus Sursee – is putting the con

“Trust is the bedrock of success. As an internatio­nal premium brand producing sophistica­ted solutions in flooring and walling, we base our relations on true partnershi­p, reliabilit­y, and trustworth­iness. For this trusting cooperatio­n, we say thank you.“Parador CEO Lubert Winnecken

“The world is changing so fast, you need people who are willing to move in the same direction“

viction Stephan outlines into practise. The company educates its own apprentice­s in a variety of roles, so the next generation of tradesmen-cum-businessme­n is being well nurtured. Investing in people is one thing HGC takes very seriously.

Stephan says: “Given the organisati­onal transforma­tion we’re going through, the biggest challenges we face are related to personnel. When people have worked in a certain way for 20 or even 30 years, it can be very difficult for them to adapt to a new process and way to approach customers. If our employees are willing to change and evolve, HGC helps them to fulfil their tasks in the job but expects high performanc­e in return. We need to make the effort because at the end of the day people are our capital. A good team and good people are vital if you want to move forward. The world is changing so fast, you need people who are willing to move in the same direction.’’

Hi-spec finish

Protecting the environmen­t is also an issue HGC doesn’t take lightly and one way it helps is by recycling building waste. The company also uses railway transporta­tion where possible and invests in the newest trucks and forklifts to reduce fuel consumptio­n.

So, as you can see, HGC is working to build a better, more efficient future for Switzerlan­d’s constructi­on industry, brick by brick, house by house, city by city.

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No location is too remote for HGC’s drivers

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