From glass beads to intelligent traffic management
It all had started in a bar in Mexico in 1969 when Manfred Swarovski met by chance US citizen Gene Autry, cousin of the famous singing Texas cowboy of the same name. Manfred and Gene had raved about their rare shared passion for the production of micro glass beads and then made plans to build a factory in Austria. „Such glass beads, with diameters between 0.1 and 1.5 mm, act as reflectors in road markings, making these visible at night and thus increasing road safety very economically“, says Philipp Swarovski, COO of the Road Marking Systems division. They are also used as shot peening and grinding media in surface technology. In addition, very fine microspheres in the size range below 0.1 mm diameter serve as stabilizers in the injection moulding of plastics.
What began in 1969 with a small glass bead factory is now, fifty years later, the international traffic technology group SWARCO with 3800 employees in 21 countries and annual sales of almost 700 million EUR. „True to our mission of improving the quality of life of all travellers, SWARCO today offers one of the most comprehensive ranges of products in the fields of traffic safety and intelligent traffic management, supporting society's growing mobility needs with turnkey systems and solutions for road marking, traffic control in cities and on motorways, parking and public transport management“, explains Michael Schuch, Speaker of the Executive Board and COO of the ITS division.
The SWARCO Group is the world's largest manufacturer of energy-efficient LED traffic lights and the world's leading producer of road marking systems of all kinds. Today, SWARCO products, systems and complete solutions contribute to greater safety and environmental protection on the roads in over 70 countries. Road tunnels in Stockholm, multi-storey car parks in the United Kingdom, motorway guidance systems throughout Germany, public transport in Barcelona, Sydney Airport signage, interstate highways in the USA, intersections in Dubai and Cape Town all work with SWARCO hardware and software. In addition to traffic technology, SWARCO also works in glass recycling and the production of illuminated advertising and logo signage for well-known car brands and supermarket chains. With the extension of the Group headquarters in Wattens in 2013, Manfred Swarovski not only paved the way for more jobs, but was also an important source of ideas for the SWARCO TRAFFIC WORLD. In these showrooms, more than 1500 visitors a year experience the company's multi-faceted expertise.
Stylish party hosted in Wattens
On 16 May 2019 it was time to celebrate. Around 400 colleagues, business partners and celebrities from politics and business experienced SWARCO‘s central 50th birthday party at the Marie Swarovski House in Wattens/Austria. SWARCO founder Manfred Swarovski, who passed away in May 2018, was honoured and commemorated by his family in an emotional interview video. A varied programme consisting of music, films, speeches, a short talk show, show acts from the SWARCO Raiderettes cheerleaders and an LED dance formation, ad-hoc interviews and top culinary delights entertained the guests until the early hours of the morning. As a souvenir of the evening, each guest received a 50-year SWARCO commemorative silver coin, limited to 500 pieces. On behalf of the SWARCO owner family and the Executive Board, moderator Richard Neumann expressed a heartfelt thank you to all employees, business partners and stakeholders who have contributed to the success story of the company over the past five decades.
A video wrap-up of the SWARCO history can be found here