Ernst Homberger

(5 July 1869 - 13 January 1955)

Ernst Homberger attended school in St. Gallen and Zurich and commercial school in Neuchâtel before gaining practical experience at trading firms and banks in Zurich and London. He then worked for a bank in the West Indies. On returning to Switzerland in 1896, he joined the Rheinfelden power transmission works, still in the development phase. Within a very short time, he had advanced to the position of authorized signatory (Prokurist) and head of book-keeping.

Appointment as Managing Director

In 1902, Ernst Homberger joined Georg Fischer as Commercial Director, and in 1907 he was appointed to the newly created position of Managing Director. The banks had brought him in to manage the firm, and he soon became a part owner of Georg Fischer too. On his marriage in 1903 to the daughter of Johannes Rauschenbach – the Schaffhausen machine and watch manufacturer – he became the main shareholder of Maschinenfabrik Rauschenbach, which was acquired by Georg Fischer in 1921. In 1923, the General Meeting of Shareholders elected Ernst Homberger as a member of the Board of Directors, and he was immediately appointed its Delegate. From 1929 to 1954 he presided over the Board of Directors as its Chairman and in 1954 he was named Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Ernst Homberger was one of Switzerland's leading industrialists and he sat on the Boards of companies in industry (including Schweizerische Lokomotiv- und Maschinen-fabrik, Bindfadenfabrik Flurlingen, Salmenbräu Rheinfelden), banking (Swiss Bank Corporation) and insurance (Bâloise). In addition, he held a number of other posts: he was a member of the Council of the Swiss National Bank from 1932 to 1947 and was active in various associations of the mechanical engineering and fitting industries in Switzerland and abroad. He also headed the Schaffhausen watch company IWC starting in 1929, leading it through troubled times. In recognition of his achievements, Ernst Homberger was named doctor honoris causa of what is now the University of St. Gallen and an honorary citizen of Schaffhausen.

Entrepreneurial vision

Among the achievements of Ernst Homberger is the extension of the social institutions at Georg Fischer. He created numerous residential colonies or quarters in Schaffhausen and Singen. In 1919 he founded the Employees' Pension Fund and in 1927 the Homberger Foundation, the aim of which was to promote vocational training for children of Georg Fischer employees. In addition to his achievements in the social field, Ernst Homberger continued to steadily expand the business of Georg Fischer. With the acquisition of the Maschinenfabrik Rauschenbach in 1921, Georg Fischer entered the engineering and grey cast iron sectors. In the 1920s, Rauschenbach expanded its production of truck wheels and began the manufacture of foundry and machine-tool machinery. In 1933 Ernst Homberger also founded the Britannia Iron and Steel Works Ltd. in Bedford, thus impelling the company's expansion in England. These acquisitions marked the beginning of Georg Fischer as a Corporation. The actual conversion into a global company, though, began after the Second World War, when Ernst Homberger was already retired.