For us, there can be no compromise: People’s safety always comes first. Let’s make sure we’re on the safe side together!
ON THE SAFE SIDE
Functional beauty for your life-safety glass projects
Vetrotech Saint-Gobain was the first company fully specialized in the development, manufacture and distribution of sustainable fire-resistant safety and security glass of the highest protection classes. For now nearly 40 years we have been delivering world-class glass solutions for fire and security applications.
For us, people always come first. This is why our mission is to protect life and property in great living places together with our customers. At the same time, we guarantee ultimate operational efficiency for our customers, maximum comfort and peace of mind for our end users and superb aesthetic quality for designers and architects all around the world.
We never stop developing and improving our products to ensure that our glass unconditionally protect both people and property. By carrying out nearly 500 tests per year – within external as well as our own internal state-of-the-art facilities – we make certain that you can rely on this promise. This also entails monitoring sustainability and taking our environmental responsibilities seriously to safeguard our common future.
For offices, healthcare, educational, hospitality and public buildings, as well as marine applications of all kinds, Vetrotech has the expertise and capability to fulfill all your life-safety glazing requirements. Vetrotech’s product range is multifunctional and will make your next project stand out when it comes to performance and aesthetics.
THE VETROTECH HISTORY
OUR JOURNEY WITH YOU
In the year 1884, the skilled glass painter Norbert Giesbrecht began his family business called Giesbrecht Glas situated on the elegant Junkerngasse in Bern, Switzerland. Over the generations to come, glass work would become an industrial discipline and grow increasingly popular in modern architecture. Over the decades, Giesbrecht AG – which was still a family-owned company – grew to become a large player in the Swiss glass industry. It saw new specialization opportunities in technological progress and earned a reputation as a pioneer and innovator.
Following the technical innovations of the first half of the 20th century, tempered glass processing became more industrialized. This sparked its wide usage as safety glass in architecture and other applications. The subsidiary TEMPERIT AG, founded in Hinwil, Switzerland, was among the first European processors to adopt horizontal tempering to improve quality. At a time when the behavior of tempered glass was still little understood, Temperit AG were pioneers in developing the “heat soak testing” process, thus making it safer and more reliable.
The founders of Vetrotech, decedents of the Giesbrecht family, believed in a safer – and more attractive – alternative to wired glass in protection. Vetrotech was grounded in Walchwil, Switzerland, to develop the world’s first fully-tempered “clear fire-resistant safety glass”, called PYROSWISS. This new glass for the first time combined fire-resistance with impact safety characteristics paving the way for new era in glazed fire protection.
In parallel, VEGLA, the German glass division of Saint-Gobain, invented a completely new “hydro-gel” technology for fire-resistant glass with heat insulation properties – the first-generation CONTRAFLAM was born. CONTRAFLAM was the original EI class product to feature tempered glass and UV-stable interlayer technology. Even today, although sometimes imitated, never equaled.
Sparked by major fire incidents, this period was marked by great evolution in fire safety legislation in many European countries. The risk of injuries due to accidental human impact to wired glass raised awareness which also impacted building legislation. Vetrotech accelerated its efforts in the national certification process of PYROSWISS opening affiliates in Germany and France and establishing sales representation throughout Europe and America, successfully meeting demand for a new generation of clear, fire-resistant safety glass.
Having become aware of the unique know-how and specialization that Vetrotech had gained over the years, Saint-Gobain acquired the Giesbrecht AG group, including Vetrotech, the innovative SWISSPACER warm-edge spacers technology, as well as other affiliates. Subsequently, Saint-Gobain consolidated its fire protection glazing activity into the newly formed Vetrotech Saint-Gobain International AG and further expanded its international footprint, yet always remaining true to its mission to act as dedicated fire resisting glass specialists.
By the mid-90’s, building upon a growing Saint-Gobain presence in Asia, Vetrotech had begun to expand its global reach with the initiation of trading and processing collaborations supported by its Group structure in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and eventually Taiwan – in both building and marine segments. Specialized PYROSWISS based technology products are produced in Japan and South Korea.
Tracing back to the early 1980’s, many VEGLA and Vetrotech products could already be found in the North American market, sold over distributors. In 2000, Vetrotech decided to directly enter the market and opened its doors with a sales office and production site in Auburn, Washington. Introducing an adapted product range to serve the market including PYROSWISS, CONTRAFLAM and a new product: Keralite – produced by a joint-venture of Saint-Gobain and Corning Glass.
After taking over the helm of Vetrotech Saint-Gobain in 1999, Alfred Giesbrecht relocated its head office to the Swiss capital of Bern, the historic home of Giesbrecht Glas. By now, a new generation of CONTRAFLAM based on silica technology was in development. Soon the first of several high-volume production lines would be installed at a converted DGU processing site. These new processes led to significant improvements in capacity, greater lead-time reliability and service as well as environmentally friendly production.
After a quarter decade of large investments, hard work and persistent geographic expansion and additional European production sites in Switzerland, Poland, the UK and France, Vetrotech had positioned itself as market leader in Europe for clear, fire-resistant safety glass. Now benefiting as a part of the Saint-Gobain group and always keeping the core Swiss values at heart, its unique specialist business model made Vetrotech Europe’s #1.
Vetrotech first established a footprint in India in 2008. This led to the investment in state-of-the-art production facilities in Chennai in 2012 to develop the fast growing markets in India, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific zone. CONTRAFLAM and PYROSWISS produced in India are produced to “European quality” demonstrated by the fact that this site is uniquely audited to supply products carrying 4 different certification marks EN, UL, Certifire and KICT.
Since its foundation in 1871, and the acquisition by Saint-Gobain in 1952, Kinon Sicherheitsglas GmbH in Aachen, Germany, grew into one of the leading experts for safety and high-security glass. It was here that CONTRAFLAM was first developed back in 1980. Now joining forces with Kinon a new dimension was added to Vetrotech’s comprehensive range of life-safety glass solutions.
The growth of Vetrotech over the past decades, together with the expansion of its product range, lead to the much needed relocation of its headquarters to nearby Flamatt, and move and expansion its Swiss production site to Romont. In the course of this move, and for the 7th time in its history, Vetrotech expanded and relocated its own accredited fire testing laboratory (IFTS) to Herzogenrath, Germany on the compound of the Saint-Gobain R&D Center.
In a move to be closer to our customers in important future markets, Vetrotech establishes a sales office in Dubai, with satellite offices in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Taiwan and Singapore. We consider it our social responsibility to play an active advocacy role in all markets we enter to ensures that we can follow our mission and contribute to safer built environments. Our technical support and specialized specification support set us apart from the rest.
Alfred Giesbrecht, founder and CEO of Vetrotech, initiated a change in leadership to ensure its future, while continuing as President of the company. Guillaume Le Gavrian, an experienced Saint-Gobain executive with more than 20 years of glass industry experience, took over the role of CEO, starting a new era of management at Vetrotech. The future is now.
Saint-Gobain’s 350 years of history have been an ongoing film of change and adaptation, demonstrating that industry is movement. Celebrating the history of the men and women who together have built one of the oldest manufacturing companies in the world. Yet despite its long history, Saint-Gobain was ranked among the top 100 global innovators in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year by Clarivate Analytics.
Saint-Gobain has always known how to renew itself while remaining true to its values. The new logo is full of motion: a skyline unfolds in an explosion of color, reflecting a Saint-Gobain that, after more than three centuries of existence, is more dynamic than ever. Similarly, Vetrotech remaining true to its fire specialist role, in a changing context of life-safety threats, expands its scope to encompass glazed high-performance security solutions.
Saint-Gobain is organized into three sectors – Innovative Materials, Construction Products and Building Distribution.
Each has its own growth drivers contributing in a complementary manner to the overall group expansion.
The Innovative Materials Sector comprises two major activities: Flat Glass and High-Performance Materials, which are the source of Saint-Gobain’s technological strength. Employing nearly 32,000 and 27,000 people, respectively, these activities have a worldwide footprint and a manufacturing presence in 42 countries and 45 countries, respectively. With its unique portfolio of materials and processes for the habitat and industrial markets, the sector embodies the group’s innovation-oriented culture and accounts for almost two-thirds of the group’s total research and development commitment. In addition to developing new products and materials, Innovative Materials deploys operational excellence programs to support its steadfast commitment to quality and service.
The Construction Products Sector offers interior and exterior solutions to enhance the comfort of buildings and homes. Its diversified business base and high-profile brands, such as ISOVER, PAM, Weber, Placo, Rigips, Gyproc and CertainTeed, make it the benchmark in its markets. It has the advantage of a global footprint, with an extensive presence in fast-growing markets. Employing some 47,000 people in 61 countries, the Construction Products Sector is the worldwide leader in interior and exterior building solutions. It designs and manufactures innovative solutions to improve the quality of living spaces.
The Building Distribution Sector has an accelerating effect on the group’s habitat and construction market strategy, due to its keen understanding of customer needs. With more than 61,000 employees and around 4,100 sales outlets in 24 countries, the Building Distribution Sector of Saint-Gobain forms a solid network of general and specialist trading brands serving the renovation, new building and home improvement markets. The sector targets craftspeople, small and medium-sized enterprises, private project owners and large companies via a network of powerful, complementary volume and specialist trading brands. It plays a key role in helping craftspeople embrace and acquire new building renovation techniques.
The Vetrotech management team unites a diverse range of experienced, international and open-minded executives. They are instrumental in placing the strategic focus on customer service and profitable growth in order to successfully follow our mission: To protect life and property in modern architecture with innovative glass solutions.
GUILLAUME LE GAVRIAN
With 22 years of international experience in the glass industry I strive to maintain Vetrotech’s focus on excellence in customer service, manufacture and development of fully-compliant solutions, and sustainability. My goal is to create the best possible customer experience to earn your trust as a reliable partner.
I joined the Vetrotech family in 2015 as CEO. Leading such an international business with such a wealth of intercultural relationships is a great professional experience. With the strong technical expertise and customer focus of our teams we can be sure to accomplish our shared mission of protecting life and property all around the world together with you.
I consider myself a multi-national person and have lived in six different countries. In order to keep up with the energy this job requires I run three times a week. I am also a keen musician: I play the guitar and sing whenever I can to relax and have fun with my family and friends.
PRESIDENT & CO-FOUNDER
Glass is a noble material. I’m proud to have spent a professional lifetime of entrepreneurship in the glass industry. Having been with Vetrotech since the beginning and having lead the integration into Saint-Gobain, I am witness to the power of what can be accomplished by working together towards a common goal. I’m well known for my favorite motto: “No risk, no fun!”
My role today is to provide continuity with the past and to support the management team and Saint-Gobain to ensure Vetrotech’s future. I share my vision and adapt the strategy to face opportunities and challenges in whatever lies ahead.
In my spare time, I enjoy spending as much time as possible with my family – especially my grandchildren. I’m also an avid golfer and active in my community.
I joined the Saint-Gobain group in 1985 and gained several years of experience in accounting, corporate finance, internal controlling and merger and acquisition. As a result of the acquisition and integration project of Vetrotech in 1995 I became CFO of the newly created Swiss Vetrotech Saint-Gobain. I am proud to have contributed from the outset to the development and growth of what is now the international benchmark in the fire-resistant and security glass business.
To work for Vetrotech Saint-Gobain continues to be an extraordinary adventure – thanks to our drive for change, our exceptional products, our experienced teams and the loyalty of our customers to achieve our common mission of making this world a safer place.
I am dual French-Swiss citizen and have been living in Switzerland for over 20 years. In winter I like to snowboard and in summer I go hiking in the mountains. Renovating my chalet in the canton of Vaud in Switzerland – built over 220 years ago – is my other passion and is my personal contribution to a sustainable habitat.
MARKETING & SALES DIRECTOR
My first experience with Vetrotech Saint-Gobain was as a customer. I am an architect by profession but have spent most of my professional career in the building products industry. I joined the company back in 1993, and was fortunate to work under the company founders who passed on to me their passion of developing and bringing to market fully transparent, fire-resistant safety glass.
What I like most about this business is that every day, together with our customers and partners, we contribute to a safer and more secure world.
I am a dual American-Swiss national but consider myself first and foremost a “citizen of the world”. Over the years, I have lived and worked in five different countries and have acquired much experience in international market development and sales. When I find some free time, I follow my other passion of riding and restoring classic motorcycles.
I started my career in glass back in 1990 as a process engineer in the German subsidiary of Saint-Gobain in Aachen. In 1998, together with the founders of Vetrotech, I supported the development of the highly innovative Contraflam technology.
As Managing Director of the production site Vetrotech Kinon Aachen and Business Manager Protect I was for many years in charge of producing and developing security glass products that comply with the highest life-safety industry standards while also producing fire-resistant glass for Vetrotech in Aachen. I’m now carrying this drive into my new responsibility as Operations Director overseeing our processing and manufacturing activities.
The commitment of all our employees and the loyalty of our customers help me to focus on optimizing our production processes, developing new products to drive innovation and deliver our solutions in the best final quality possible.
I am German but see myself as a multicultural citizen. I have a passion for cycling and enjoy spending some quality time out in nature with my family and friends.
TINA BÜRGI RAVENNE
HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR
Shortly after my law studies at the university of Berne and Bologna, I started working in construction-related industries before I joined the Vetrotech family in 2015. I speak four languages and am pleased to leverage this advantage in our multi-cultural organization.
I am Swiss, married to a French citizen and have lived in Italy for a while before returning to Switzerland. I consider myself a real bookworm – I read two to three books a week – and love having a nice meal with friends. Now that I’m a mum of twins, I’ve cut back on my sporting passions of basketball and lindy-hop as well as rock’n’roll dancing to enjoy quality time with my own family.