The company that makes its money out of dough

An employee shows would-be customers how to knock dough into shape swissinfo.ch

Switzerland's Rondo Doge group is raising its profile as a maker of machines that process dough for a range of baked delicacies.

This content was published on January 26, 2007 - 15:19

The company, based in the town of Burgdorf, north of Bern, sells its products around the world to customers ranging from corner shops to multinationals.

The custom-made machines come in all shapes and sizes and are designed to make a baker's life easier.

"Our machines are used to transform a mixed dough into normally a dough sheet and from there we manufacture raw products of puff pastry, croissant dough, Danish dough and even bread dough," the group's chief executive Robert Rohrer told swissinfo.

The sheet of dough is variously treated by the company's machinery – rolled, folded, filled, stamped and cut to transform it into the raw final product.

"We consider ourselves one of the leaders, if not the leader, of this niche machinery.

"We have a number one position as far as small and medium-size equipment is concerned... and are definitely striving for an equal position in the industrial business where we are number two or three depending on the geographical area," Rohrer said.

Asked why the company does not make dough mixers or ovens, Rohrer explains that there are hundreds of players around the world making them.

Niche market

He says the success of the company stems from its history and that it manufactures in a niche market.

The plant in Burgdorf has expanded over the years and a guided tour reveals state-of-the-art machines that produce the dough equipment.

There is also a fairly sizeable test bakery, where the company can show off its machinery to potential customers from all over the world.

During my visit, a group from eastern Europe checks out what the company's machines can supply.

"The end-users of our machines are handicraft bakers, the shop around the corner, the typical French bakery," Rohrer said. "At the same time we supply the multinational companies like the Barilla group or others, which are then of course using predominantly our industrial type of equipment."

In the despatch bay, machines are marked for delivery to France, Russia, South Africa and Austria.

Rondo Doge has an annual turnover of around SFr100 million ($81.35 million) and about 98 per cent of that is achieved in exports.

"Although the Swiss market is important because it's our home market, it represents roughly one-and-a-half to two per cent."

No stress

While the company's machines can churn out more than 36,000 croissants an hour, they also have to be gentle in handling the dough. If it is subject to stress, the dough can lose much of its quality.

While Rohrer concedes that the machines are not very complex in the sense that they are not high-tech, he says they are masters at dough processing.

The machines are not only dealing with dough but also flour, yeast and water. And flour varies "tremendously" depending on where it comes from.

"I think the art is finding the right composition. I would describe the process as pretty complex, the machines rather simple," Rohrer said.

But Rondo Doge is not just selling simple machines these days.

Solutions

"We are more and more selling solutions or we are selling final product ideas to our customers, where they need certain tools to manufacture... They don't simply want to buy a piece of metal that is doing something. They want to know what products they can make."

It looks as though the company has a bright future, with Rohrer hoping for a growing market share internationally.

"The economy is doing well and we're doing even better, so we look pretty optimistically into the future."

He's convinced that the company's reputation for reliability, delivery, spare parts support and customer service will help it on the way.

swissinfo, Robert Brookes in Burgdorf

Key facts

The company was founded in 1948 and carried the Seewer family name for more than 50 years.
In 2001, the company was sold to a private equity company that came out of a family-owned industrial group in Switzerland.
It has production plants in both Burgdorf and in the Italian town of Schio (plant for industrial equipment).

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Rondo Doge

The company is best known for its broad array of machines and lines for sheeting and laminating, for the production of pastry, bread and rolls, croissants, pizza and many more like thin dough, doughnuts and special products.

Based in Burgdorf, Rondo Doge is a global company with thousands of customers supported by more than 350 employees in 9 countries and more than 50 representatives located all around the world.

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