Founded 1889, Lador produced the largest quantity of musical movements in Switzerland, resisted competition from Asia the second longest, finally 1985 bought up by Reuge

Adrien Lador

Fernand Lador

Robert Lador

Hermann Lador

Lador Inc. (New York)

Elisa Campiche

Alfred Mermod

Eugène Recordon

Main source for this chapter is Piguet 2004, p. 243-248

Adrien LADOR

Adrien Lador, *1867, work at Hermann Thorens, 1889 founder of the own company, registered on 16th July 1890, his son Fernand was his successor in 1949

“He took on Eugène Recordon, with whom he was to work for sixty years. His comptoir was situated at Rue du Jura 9, and the following year he was admitted to the SIC (Société industrielle et commerciale.)”

Cantonal Exhibition in Yverdon
“In 1884, Lador took part in the Cantonal Exhibition in Yverdon, like most of his colleagues, and presented ‘a selection of boxes and fancy objects which were to young people´s taste, including a baby rattle, also with music, and small crank boxes costing … 85 cents’. (Nouvelliste Vaud) ” (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

“[…] he [Adrien Lador] made objects which tickled children´s fancy so they would ask their parents to hand over the money to buy them. To make the decision easier for them, he charged the lowest possible prices.” (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

1902: Lador was not affected by the decline of the large music boxes,
because he never produced them. From the very beginning Lador concentrated on the smaller movements, working in a stable market. Lador produced the simplest, most practical and cheapest,  his special field remained musical toys.

“In 1902, Adrien Lador signed the convention between employers and workers to fix minimum wages: he employed at the time about ten workers in his workshop in the Rue du Jura and several more at home. [...]” (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

1904: more than 100,000 pieces a year

1914–1918: Sharp decline in music box sales
“However, they made all sorts of other products, whatever was compatible with the machinery available. The company expanded and set up a unit in the Rue des Rasses. They employed sixty-five workers in November 1917 when a fire broke out which, in spite of rapid intervention, caused enormous damage. Part of the workforce was laid off, others were temporarily unemployed while new machines were being found, a rather difficult challenge in the middle of a world war.” (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

“In 1925, the range of Lador products had expanded considerably and included cigar boxes, powder compacts, candy boxes, decanters and other musical objects, as well as toys and – a novelty – rotating publicity devices with a musical movement inside. In order to survive the thirties and dwindling sales, Lador diversified his production and introduction and introduced ski poles and bindings, somewhat similar to the Kandahar bindings invented by Guido Reuge.” (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

1939: National Exhibition in Zurich

1941: “Adrien Lador transformed his business into a limited company with a capital of 270,000 francs, to produce music boxes, ski bindings and mechanical products. He was the only director.” (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

1943: Expansion oft he workshops by building a new wing to his factory in the Rue des Rasses. Lador had more than 100 people working for him. Lador increased the capital of the company to 400,000 francs. (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

1946: Adrien Lador filed two patent applications for cylinders. The first one covered the assembly of interconnected cylinders, some of which had pins on the surface to activate the teeth of the comb, the second one a cylinder of rolled sheet metal. (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

“With adavancing age, the head of the company took to steps to organize his succession. His six children all held shares in the company.

Hermann Lador was closely associated with the management from 1946 onwards, and Fernand had for some time been responsible for sales.” (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

Fernand LADOR

Fernand Lador (son of Adrien, *1898, 1949: managing director of the company, †1950)

“After primary school in Sainte-Croix, Fernand studied in the German part of Switzerland and then in England and Ireland, before settling in the United States, where he established a company to import Lador products, i.w. Lador Inc., 58 West 45th Street, in New York. Fernand Lador married in America and then returned to Switzerland with his family just as another economic creisis was coming on. The continued development of the company bore witness to the success of his efforts.” (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

July 1949: Fernand Lador officially took over the management of the company, meanwhile transformed into a limited company.

1949: sixtieth anniversary oft he company. Special bonus was given to the three oldest employees. These were Elisa Campiche, for fifty-one years of service as cylinder-pinner, Alfred Mermod, for fifty-eight years of service and Eugène Recordon, for sixty years.

3rd August 1950: One year after the change of management, on 3rd August 1950, Fernand Lador suddenly died, at the age of fifty-two.

Robert LADOR

Robert, son of Fernand, *1928, director of Lador 1951 up to 1985

“His son, Robert, at once returned from the United States and took over the management of the company. He was twenty-three, knew the market and the music box world well and had inherited the experience of his father and grandfather. On 27th September 1951, he was officially appointed director of Lador SA. At the time, the company made numerous products related to household and sports, objects for smokers, tennis net poles, needles for knitting machines and even machines to peel potatoes. All these products made it possible to draw maximum profit from the existing machinery, which had been aquired to manufacture music boxes, although they never replaced the main line.” (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

The Japanese competition
“As soon as he became head of the company, Robert Lador was confronted with a problem which would haunt him all his professional life: competition from Asia. On 8th February 1950, his father Fernand wrote to the SIC (Société industrielle et commerciale) to inform them that the Japanese had once again started making small music boxes. The SIC reacted and wrote to two manufacturers of music box supplies in the village to warn them of the danger of exporting spare parts. This felt like a reoccurrence of what had already happened in 1886, when the manufacturers from Leipzig were preparing their disc-playing boxes.” (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

Pressure on sales prices increased year after year, forcing the Sainte-Croix manufacturers to sign a convention fixing minimum prices for musical movements, but Robert Lador found it difficult to follow this stipulation. On 29th May 1953, the SIC declared itself surprised ‘that it is your company, initial instigator of our convention, which is also the first to stretch the rules’. In fact, Lador merely imitated the majority of his competitors, who did business with several music box factories established in Sainte-Croix and surrounding area and who undercut prices.” (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

Formerly, music boxes made in Japan were relatively expensive, but prices dropped year after year and competition truly affected the factories of Sainte-Croix.

1962: Robert Lador stopped producing music boxes destined for tourist resorts, which were not profitable on account of the heavy cost of sales, distribution, returns, etc.

International Toy Fair in New York 1959
In 1959, on the occasion of one of his traditional visits to the toy fair in New York, Robert Lador met Charles-Emile Matthey again. The latter produced the same type of boxes in Vuiteboeuf  (south east of St. Croix). “Both of us, nearing forty, shared the same views of the future of the 1960s and so we intend to keep contact, while remaining autonomous, to exchange ideas and experiences in order to defend ourselves more effectively against growing competition from Japan”, Matthey said. Two years later, they met up with agents from Sankyo, their main Japanese competitor, who had just opened an agency in the United States. They exchanged their impressions and were invited to visit the factories in Suwa, on the condition that there would be reciprocity the following year. Upon their return from Japan, the two manufacturers wrote a detailed report on their visit to the SIC (Société industrielle et commerciale) which gave the matter scant attention. But Lador and Matthey were well aware of the stakes involved: they were condemned to rationalize production to a maximum, while ensuring a quality superior to that of the Japanese.

Robert Lador invested massively in production automation. No more cylinder-pinners, no comb-tuners, Lador bought cylinders with raised pins from Louis Jaccard-Bahon in L´Auberson and developed more advanced comb-tuning machines. (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

1970: Lador was the most important European musical movements manufacturer and the only one capable of competing with the Japanese, who produced some 10 million movements per year at the time.

1970: Daily production:  18.000 movements, up to 4 millions a year, with 12, 18, 22 und 28 teeth (two thirds of which were destined for the United States, essentially Fisher Price, as well as for Italy and Western Germany) (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

Early 1970s: Robert Lador built two workshops in the Sainte-Croix area.

1971: Electronic tuning workshop in Bullet (near St. Croix)

June 1972: Robert Lador, Jean Reuge and Charles-Emile Matthey, the three largest Swiss music box manufacturers , took part in secret meetings aiming to use the joint forces of to fight Japanese competition. Without success für Matthey, in 1975 he had to sold his factory in Vuitebouef (south east of St. Croix).

1973: Electronic tuning workshop in L´Auberson

Late 1970s: Downsize because of the devaluation of the dollar,  the oil crisis, and the brutal rise in interest rates in the United States: The workshop in L´Auberson was made over to Charles Martin, who produced cylinders there, and the Bullet workshop was progressively abandoned

Beginning 1985: The Big Five: Reuge, John and Edouard Cuendet, Gueissaz-Jaccards and MAP SA in Yverdon, who had the largest annual production, but had to close in the same year. MAP SA was dependent on one single client, the American company Fisher Price, who bought half of his products.

In the autumn of 1984, the company bookkeeper of Lador, Lucien Jaccard, was worried because he had not received orders for the coming year from the giant American toy manufacturer [Fisher Price].

Robert Lador jumped on a plane and went to have a look. He learned that Fisher Price had problems with the tooth of a Lador-comb for a small record player, which had broken. Fisher Price considered that this could compromise the feeling of safety children needed, plus other reasons, all of which served to cover up the truth. The American company was increasingly interested in electronics and wanted prices and payment conditions which Lador could not possibly give, with the result that they finally opted for one single supplier: Sankyo, the Japanese manufacturer. (Piguet 2004, p. 243-248)

“Robert Lador´s return to Sainte-Croix was catastrophic. His factories were adpated to a production of several millions of movements a year, which would prove to be impossible to replayce. But he [Robert Lador] was clearheaded: best to stop all actvitiy before it was too late. The information was made public on 27th June 1985: 190 jobs in the music box sector were made superfluous, of which about 60 were in the home industry, and that came at a time when [the typewriter factory] Hermès Précisa International finally decided to leave Sainte-Croix. Those were indeed dark days for the entire region and people reacted vigorously.“

“A cooperative effort between the owners of the company, the local and cantonal authorities, trade union and enterprises, led to a solution: Lador was to be bought out by Reuge SA. Other buyers were also interested: on the very day that Guido Reuge visited the Lador premises and discovered with great admiration the level of technological development attained, representatives of SANKYO were already on the spot and made their offers; their purpose being either to obtain a MADE IN SWITZERLAND label or to do away with their only European competitor.” (Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

The staff of Lador was laid off gradually and all activity ceased officially on 31st December 1985. It closed its doors in March 1986.

The following month [April 1986], Reuge announced that it was taking over Lador, just after buying up Mélodies SA in L´Auberson. Little by little, the Lador premises were occupied by Reuge and integrated in its organization.
(Piguet 2004, S. 243-248)

Reuge bought Mélodies SA, Lador SA and, in 1992, .Cuendet & Co.

Teilnehmer bei der Nationalen Ausstellung in Yverdon 1885

Siehe St. Croix um 1905

Siehe kleinformatige Spieldosen ()

Siehe kleinformatige Spieldosen mit einem Zieharmonikaspielerauf dem Musikzettel ()