Switzerland’s construction industry would grind to a standstill were it not for HG Commerciale, which is currently undergoing an exciting customer-focused evolution going 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 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,” Stephen 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.”