Pluess Staufer
An In-depth View of A Silent Giant


History offers moral lessons

OMYA's past

Wary of OMYA
Mining company faces rich vein of opposition in Danby and beyond
Rutland Herald/Times Argus Sunday Magazine Cover Story
October 6, 2002

Former Chairman : Max Schachenmann, also Director
1992 photo, 77 years old, deceased 2005

ADDRESS: Baslerstr. 42
Oftringen, Switzerland CH-4665
BUSINESS: Manufacture of filler & pigments (calcium carbonate); trade in chemicals
MARKET: International
SALES: $1810 Million
YEAR: 2001
AUDITOR: PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

click on photo to enlarge

Board of Directors and Executives

Board of Directors
Verwaltungsrat (Präsident) / Supervisory board :
Verwaltungsrat (Vizepräsident) / Supervisory board :
Verwaltungsrat (Mitglied) / Supervisory board : Dr. Josef Follpracht
Geschäftsleitung (Direktor) / Management : Mr. Dr. Josef Follpracht
Geschäftsleitung (Vizedirektor) / Management : Mr. Klaus Haslach
Geschäftsleitung (Vizedirektor) / Management : Mr. Kurt Hirsiger
Geschäftsleitung (Vizedirektor) / Management : Mr. Walter Portmann
Geschäftsleitung (Vizedirektor) / Management : Mr. Markus Spahr
Geschäftsleitung (Vizedirektor) / Management : Mr. Martin Zimmerli
Geschäftsleitung (Vizedirektor) / Management : Mr. Willi Zimmerli
Geschäftsleitung (CEO) / Management : Mr. Lutz Steinberg
Geschäftsleitung (Stv. Direktor) / Management : Mr. Michael Both
Geschäftsleitung (Stv. Direktor) / Management : Mr. Peter Flury
Informatik/CIT : Mr. Klaus Haslach
Human Resources : Mr. Michael Both
Human Resources : Mr. Françoise Gerhart
Administration : Mr. W. Trösch
Finanzen / Finance : Mr. Dr. Josef Follpracht
Finanzen / Finance : Mr. Martin Zimmerli
Logistik / Logistics : Mr. Peter Ringgenberg
Verkauf / Sales : Mr. Walter Portmann
Verkauf / Sales : Mr. Markus Spahr
Verkauf / Sales : Mr. Willi Zimmerli
Verkauf / Sales : Mr. Peter Flury

1989 Time Inc., Fortune, September 11, 1989


September 11, 1989

The Billionaires;



100% of Pluss-Staufer, world's largest producers of calcium carbonate; Swiss representative of Germany's Hoechst Pharmaceutical.His grandparents, Gottfried Pluss and Emma Staufer, bought a calcium quarry near the French village of Omey and sold "the finest putty available." When Max took over after World War II, calcium carbonate was becoming popular as a filler and a whitening agent in paints and plastics. Pluss-Staufer now controls 60% of the European market and 25% of the North American market for calcium carbonate, marble, and chalk. Max speaks fluent German, French, English, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Winters in Arizona. Three-time Swiss hang-gliding champion. Two sons, one daughter.

1990 Time Inc., Fortune, September 10, 1990


September 10, 1990


100% of Pluess-Stauffer, the world's largest manufacturer of calcium carbonate. For nearly half a century, Schachenmann has been selling CaCO2 as filler for marble, and chalk, and recently as a whitening agent in paper. Though he hasn't ceded a speck of control over the company that supplies the U.S. with one-quarter of its calcium carbonate, his oldest son, Max Andre, has been identified as a likely successor. Max Sr. has another son, a daughter, and several awards for hang gliding.

Benn Publications Ltd. (UK)

October 1, 1991

Silence's success; nickname of Max Schachenmann, chief executive of Pluss-Staufer; on his firm's reputation for secrecy and discretion in dealing with its customers; Chemicals & Additives; Company Profile

Bridget Thomas

Silence's success

Silence is a difficult commodity to export. CE Max Schachenmann does not give interviews and the company, accused of secretiveness, has been the focus of sharp criticism in the Swiss business press.

Switzerland, however, is probably the birthplace of discretion, making Oftringen a suitable headquarters for this giant player in the fillers and coatings game. Since taking over the family firm in 1941, aged 25, after his father's death, Mr Schachenmann's entrepreneurial skills have enabled P-S to grow in a geometrical spiral. Much of its reputation has been built on its ability to maintain strict secrecy between its customers. Chalk was needed in huge quantities after the second world war, to revitalise Europe's rundown fields. P-S was already a major owner of chalk quarries, and profited sufficiently to have money in the bank in 1968; this was the year when Ludwig Huggenberger, head of its paper division, proposed what was then a laughable idea: a technical laboratory with test facilities for customers. Despite considerable company opposition, Herr Schachenmann agreed, and it was built in 1970, at a cost of SFr20M.

The breakthrough came in 1973 when P-S bought its own pilot coater. Its philosophy of looking after the sheet from wet end through to the printed word was born. It claims it was the first pigment supplier in the world with full evaluation trials facilities.

Coatings have been applied to paper since the 1860s, but since world war two research into pigments has focussed on bringing down costs and producing brighter paper. Pigments are vital for high brightness, and natural ground calcium carbonate (CaC O.sub.3 ) is a cheap and endlessly available pigment. In SC grades, the cost of one kilo of wood fibre is three times that of one kilo of filler; for uncoated woodfree the ratio can be as much as 5:1. There are sound economic advantages for using fillers.

The move towards coating groundwood-containing grades with CaC O.sub.3 is slow, but P-S is researching to ensure its continued growth. It is being introduced into the wet end of rotogravure grades, which will enable both it and offset to be made in the same mill. The company says it should be possible to make all LWC up to 51 gm.sup.2 with CaC O.sub.3 ; this will save the chaos which follows broke being used in an acid line from a neutral one when both are used in the same mill, and which is, according to P-S, a common source of trouble.

In higher grades CaC O.sub.3 is already used for pre-coating, and for top coating up to 100% use is possible, even for a high gloss finish in double coating. In the US, Somerset mill, which has a reputation for exceptionally high quality finish, is the only one to use it as a coating medium. Fillers and coating pigments are primarily used in printing/writing and coated board grades.

Last year, the world's paper users consumed 16.5M tons of pigments. Of this, 12M tons was kaolin, 4M CaC O.sub.3 . European consumption of pigments has doubled in the past decade to 6.8Mtpy and will, estimates P-S, rise to 10Mtpy by the year 2000. Taken overall, filler content is higher in Europe than the US.

Coatings have become heavier, more coated paper is being produced. The move to acid free production of woodfrees has progressed; more than 300 machines now produce woodfree paper under alkaline conditions, 180 of them in Europe, and P-S was there to advise at most changeovers.

The secret of P-S' success in the paper industry lies in this rise of acid free production. CaC O.sub.3 cannot operate in acid conditions. Mr Schachenmann's research laboratory worked on what was originally thought to be a coarse substance of limited value, and has produced a recipe for success. There are economic advantages in high solids coatings, also technological advantages such as higher brightness. High solids coatings require high percentages of CaC O.sub.3 in the coating colour formulations. P-S has directed the market towards the increased use of CaC O.sub.3 by:

1) Owning over 60 quarries and 60 operating production plants.

2) Investing sufficient research in the product to ensure a profitable outcome.

3) Encouraging its research team to read papers at major seminars - the most effective advertising medium.

Mr Schachenmann's nickname, "Der Schweiger" (Mr Silence) is therefore misplaced. He speaks through his team's scientific papers; his eco-friendly message says "buy me - I'm natural". His team is always on the move towards the next seminar, preparing to preach the gospel of natural ground calcium carbonate.

Mr Huggenberger still heads the paper division of P-S. He considers paper quality as important as cost per ton. "Our customers want more metres at faster speeds with higher brightness" he says. "But paper is produced through a series of compromises. Fillers weaken the sheet; the need for perfect printing means resorting to expensive tailor made additives; competition and overcapacity is leading our industry to disaster. We must remember that we cannot cough, gargle and sing all at the same time."

P-S has increased its commitment to paper, by appointing former Feldmuhle head of coating Dr Christian Naydowski as director of R&D. He sees his task as broadening the vision of mill managers from viewing the PM as an entity to part of the larger mill picture. I asked him why CaC O.sub.3 was so important a product.

"In today's difficult market it is an essential part of paper's economic structure", he replied. "Because of overcapacities, price rises are impossible at present. We can help a mill to lower costs, thus raising profitability. Increased use of recycled fibre is also influencing its use, and German legislation is helping us there. In the US, where double coating is unknown (with the exception of Somerset) we are already influencing wet end manufacture, and our expertise is essential as US mills learn about double coating."

Mr Huggenberger has many more notes in his recipe book for CaC O.sub.3 , including improvements in SC and even newsprint, more gloss and opacity in several grades.

Since English China Clay opened its research facility in Belgium competition between the two companies has intensified. P-S holds over 60% of access to CaC O.sub.3 . By publishing its research it demonstrates its expertise, but encourages its competitor to come closer. The singer may not always be able to call the tune.

Sunday Mirror

April 19, 1998, Sunday



GRAND Prix mogul Bernie Ecclestone has raced up the wealth league to become Britain's sixth wealthiest person.

His wealth has risen from pounds 275million to pounds 1,225million. Last year he was rated equal 58th richest.

Ecclestone is still far behind supermarket boss Lord Sainsbury, who leads the list of Britain's 1,000 richest people. His family's wealth is put at pounds 3,300 million. Virgin tycoon Richard Branson has seen his rating slip from joint fifth to 14th. His personal wealth plunged from pounds 1,700million last year to pounds 1,000million. Of the 16 billionaires in the list, published by the Sunday Times, Harrods boss Mohamed al-Fayed is at number 11.

The Queen, who once stood at the top of the wealth list, has seen her rating fall to 94th with a personal fortune of pounds 250million.

There are two female billionaires on the list. The joint fortune of Greek shipping heiress Chryss Goulandris and her husband Irish Heinz boss Tony O'Reilly is estimated at pounds 1,100million. Lady Grantchester, 72, is worth pounds 1,000million.

Mad-cap DJ Chris Evans has burst into the list at no. 668, with a fortune estimated at pounds 30million.

Ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney has finally displaced Lord Lloyd-Webber as Britain's wealthiest music millionaire. New to the list are lottery jackpot winners Terry Benson and Mukhtar Mohidin, sharing 880th place with pounds 20million.

On this page we list the richect top ten in different categories...


1. Paul McCartney pounds 500 million (worth pounds 420m last year); 2. David Bowie pounds 150m (pounds 100m); 3. Elton John pounds 150m (pounds 150 m); 4. Mick Jagger pounds 140m (pounds 120m); 5. Phil Collins pounds 105m (pounds 105m); 6. Keith Richards pounds 105m (pounds 85 m); 7. George Harrison pounds 87m (pounds 95m); 8. Sting pounds 80m (pounds 70m); 9. Ringo Starr pounds 78m (pounds 80m); 10. Eric Clapton pounds 75m (pounds 75m).


1. Bernard Lewis (River Island boss) pounds 500million; 2. Peter Simon (Monsoon) pounds 300m; 3. Max and Stephen Griggs (Doc Martens boots) pounds 325m; 4. Stephen Rubin (Speedo & Lacoste) pounds 240m; 5 Tom Singh (New Look) pounds 150m; 6 Brian DeZille family, (Sweater Shop)pounds 140m; 7 Margaret Barbour pounds 135m; 8 & 9 Allsports bosses David Hughes and Paul Smith, pounds 110m each; 10 Sir Bernard Ashley, pounds 100m.


From the youngest: 1. Reuben Singh, 21, (fashion) pounds 45m; 2. Alexander de Brye, 23, (land) pounds 30m; 3. Lucas White, 23, (inherited) pounds 45m; 4. Liam Gallagher, 25, (music) pounds 25m; 5. Tahir Mohsan, 26, (computers) pounds 50m; 6. Vicky Jaramillo, 26, (inherited) pounds 25m; 7. Aveneet Sahni, 27, pounds 20m; 8. Earl of Iveagh, 28, pounds 650m; 9. Craig Whyte, 29, pounds 20m; 10. Viscount Wimborne, 29, pounds 30m.


1. Chryss Goulandris, wife of Tony O'Reilly, pounds 1.1bn; 2. Lady Grantchester, of the Moores family, pounds 1bn; 3. Ann Gloag, transport, pounds 550m; 4. Freddie Linnett, property, pounds 420m; 5. Clarice Pears, property, pounds 260m; 6. The Queen pounds 250m; 7. Celia Lipton-Farris pounds 160m inherited; 8. Margaret Barbour, clothing, pounds 135m; 9. Patricia Brown pounds 120m, publishing, and Phyllis Somers, pounds 120m inherited.


1. The Duke of Westminster pounds 1.75bn; 2. Earl Cadogan pounds 725m; 3. The Duke of Devonshire, pounds 370m; 4. Viscount Portman, pounds 275m; 5. Lord Howard de Walden, pounds 260m; 6. The Duke of Northumberland, pounds 250m; 7. The Queen pounds 250m; 8. The Marquis of Tavistock, pounds 175m; 9. The Marquis of Northampton pounds 150m; 10. The Duke of Sutherland pounds 150m.


1. Lord Sainsbury family pounds 3.3billion; 2. Garfield Weston pounds 1.5bn; 3. Tony O'Reilly and Chryss Goulandris pounds 1.1bn; Joint 4. Ken Morrison and family, Earl of Iveagh and Guinness family, Lord and Edmund Vestey, pounds 650m each; 7. Robert Earl pounds 450m; 8. David Thompson pounds 350m; 9. Sam Whitbread and family pounds 175m; 10. Lord Daresbury and Greenall family pounds 150m.


1. Hans Rausing, packaging, pounds 2.8bn; 2. Lakshmi Mittal, steel, pounds 2bn; 3. Sir Anthony Bamford, JCBs, pounds 1.3bn; 4. Sri and Gopi Hinduja, trading; 5. Lord Paul and family, steel, pounds 500m; 6. James Dyson, inventor, pounds 400m; 7. Fred Koch, oil, pounds 36m; 8. Max Schachenmann, chemicals, pounds 350m; 9. Martin Naughton, electricals, pounds 250m; 10. Michael Smurfit, packaging, pounds 250m.


1. Lord Sainsbury pounds 3.3billion; 2. Hans Rausing pounds 2.800 million; 3. Lakshmi Mittal pounds 2,000million; Joint 4. Joseph Lewis and Duke of Westminster pounds 1.750m each; Joint 6. Bernie Ecclestone and Garfield Weston and families pounds 1.500m each; Joint 8. Sir Anthony Bamford and Bruno Schroder families and Sir Adrian and John Swire pounds 1,300 million each.