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How has Schwan-STABILO been such a success for 160 years?

A family company

Entrepreneurial spirit in the genes

In 1865, Gustav Adam Schwanhäusser recognised the potential of industrial production – and laid the foundations for Schwan-STABILO’s long-lasting success. He bought the bankrupt, Nuremberg-based pencil company ‘Grossberger und Kurz’, which was founded in 1855. The company is still owned by the family, and is now in the fifth generation.

Company before family

A dual leadership team consisting of family members and external managers steers the course of our internationally aligned company. The courage to change preserves the legacy and secures it for the future. The management team confidently expands the company’s strengths and brands and opens up selected new business areas.

Familial responsibility

A high regard for employees and a special sense of responsibility with regard to the areas of ecological, environmental and social influence show that familial thinking still features prominently at Schwan-STABILO.

As a family-run company, Schwan-STABILO has long proven its foresight and managed a perfect balance between entrepreneurial courage and stability.

Entrepreneurial courage

Recognising trends – and responding with innovation

The latter part of the 19th century saw a change in the world of production. Gustav Adam Schwanhäusser proved his courage – and staked everything on industrial production. With success.
Schwan-STABILO began its journey to the top. On the way, the company continuously invested in innovation – and over time introduced trend-setting products onto the market.

Capturing different markets

With the same foresight, the industrial group has long focussed on different business areas, different strategies and different locations. What all three subgroups and their product worlds have in common is a leading position on the market, innovative power and real, tangible (multiple award-winning) products: whether it’s a cosmetic pencil, left-handed fountain pen, bike backpack or avalanche transceiver.

Schwan Cosmetics is a hidden champion – a global leader in the cosmetics industry. For decades, STABILO has been an internationally coveted writing brand for highlighting, drawing, writing and learning to write. With the acquisition of the outdoor brands Deuter (founded 1898) and ORTOVOX (founded 1980), the last decade saw the addition of a third successful foothold in a new industry. The outdoor trend was still on the rise. Nevertheless, both family and management had the courage to take a decisive step. Both brands were known for revolutionary product developments. They fit into the Schwan-STABILO Group perfectly.

Even after 160 years, Schwan-STABILO is still a notable player on the market – with the same desire to play a leading role as an innovator.


Curiosity and interest give us the advantage

Why are Schwan-STABILO products so well received everywhere? Because the developers and the decision makers examine the market carefully, listen closely and understand. Because that is how to recognise trends early and take advantage of them. And because the products are perfectly suited to the needs and requirements of the customer – on all international markets.

Leading expertise in all branches

Thanks to the proximity to market insiders and customers, the strategists and developers in the Schwan-STABILO group are always one step ahead of the competition. Quite often this leads to the creation of completely new product segments, which today are regular fixtures on retail shelves.
For example...
...Schwan Cosmetics actively searches for future trends and then develops the relevant products and supplies them to cosmetics brands. 95 percent of all products can be traced back to our own ideas and developments.
...STABILO experts work closely with teachers, educators and parents in order to remain the number one brand when it comes to learning to write.
...outdoor experts from Deuter and ORTOVOX, Maier-Sports and Gonso utilise the specialist knowledge of cyclists, hikers, rock climbers and mountaineers and, therefore, better understand what really matters.

Behind all of this lies curiosity and interest. Because: »The most exciting year is always the next one!«

Technology and market expertise have long been vital factors for success. Even after 160 years, Schwan-STABILO’s innovative products are still setting standards in their respective sectors – and the company is often a role model for many emulators.

Brand values

Attraction and desirability

Over the years, family-run Schwan-STABILO has managed to develop unique brands and target their potential to the company’s advantage. Customers reward our innovative force with true brand loyalty.

  • Schwan Cosmetics
    As leading private label manufacturer of cosmetic pencils and products, Schwan Cosmetics provides the right tailor-made cosmetic pencil for every purpose, for every market and for every trend. The “Colours” trend report shows customers today which make-up colours will be setting trends tomorrow.
    The coveted pencil brand allows customers and fans to express themselves in colour. With trendy products and innovations, STABILO is a winner with kids, teenagers, adults, teachers and parents alike. In addition, we are continuously finding new and better ways to combine the digital writing world with the analogue.
  • Deuter
    The authentic mountain sport professionals develop functional and highest-quality outdoor products. Customers really benefit from the safety and reliability of these products.
    As a pioneer in the avalanche safety industry, ORTOVOX offers the highest possible protection with their products. For the Taufkirchen-based company, the system concept – whereby all products function optimally in combination with each other – is key. Following this concept, ORTOVOX has produced highly functional clothing for alpinists from the first to the third layer since 1988, ensuring an optimal body climate and plenty of comfort thanks to the use of wool.
  • Maier Sports
    Quality, functionality, responsibility: a combination that has worked at Maier Sports for over 75 years. Maier Sports develops high-quality, functional outdoor and ski clothing and is a highly innovative fitting and trouser specialist. Thanks to their in-house sewing workshop and typical Swabian ingenuity, they provide a comprehensive repair service.
  • GONSO Bike & Active
    GONSO provides functional cycling apparel for performance-oriented cyclists, everyday cyclists and trekking-bike enthusiasts. In doing so GONSO relies on decades of experience, innovation, technical advantage, meticulous material selection and uncompromising quality.

Continuous maintenance of these valuable brands ensures high desirability – and with it long-term success.


Looking at the big picture

Focussing on good products is not enough. Sustainable success is only possible if you look at the big picture. This was true 160 years ago – and it’s all the more important today.

Environmentally sustainable

As a family-run company, Schwan-STABILO knows how important it is to preserve the environment for future generations. Pencils made from FSC-certified wood, a high level of recycled content in the production facilities, and the use of energy-efficient cogeneration units and geothermal solutions show that our environmental promise is more than just empty rhetoric.

Economically sustainable

To achieve long-term economic stability over generations as a company and employer, the right decisions must be made at the right time. Two numbers stand as proof that Schwan-STABILO has managed just that: 160 years of success and 5,100 employees worldwide.

Socially sustainable

The compatibility of family and work is more than mere lip service for a responsible family-run company. In addition to flexible working time models, an in-house nursery school is soon to be opened for employees’ children. Education is also an important topic for us. For years, the number of trainee positions has been around 80. We take on a very high number of these – around 80 percent over the years – making Schwan-STABILO the first career move for many former trainees.

We are committed to an international social charter, a global framework agreement between companies and trade unions for the provision of humane working conditions. The main aims of this social charter are the abolition of child labour and the equal treatment of all employees regardless of ethnic origin, skin colour, gender or religion.

The Schwanhäusser family, the Schwan-STABILO Group management team and all employees are aware of their responsibility – and all make an active contribution toward it. For 160 years.