Jeroen van Rooijen — 21.11.2019

Création Baumann (which is based in Langenthal, canton of Bern) manufactures and sells decorative and functional home textiles and thus contributes towards the comfort of people at home and in public buildings. CEO Philippe Baumann reviews his career over the past twenty years and outlines his expectations for the coming decade.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a few steps back in time and view things in a different light in order to reappraise what we see in everyday life. This is precisely what Philippe Baumann, CEO of Création Baumann (which is based in Langenthal in the canton of Bern), did this summer. The fourth-generation Baumann at the helm decided to take a three-month time-out, with no e-mails, mobile phone or other communication devices, and set out on an extended tour of Europe. He drove all over the continent, enjoying the sights, meeting people and taking time to reflect.

“I’ve been responsible for Création Baumann for the past twenty years, and will probably remain in charge for the next twenty years before one of my three sons hopefully takes over.” At the age of 53 he felt it was time to take a break. And when he returned to Langenthal his batteries were fully recharged. “It did me a lot of good to get away for a while, and everything ran smoothly during my absence,” he explains. He feels he is now able to more greatly appreciate what his ancestors built up and can above all envisage the company’s opportunities instead of dealing with problems.

Philippe Baumann
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Keeping alert and remaining flexible

Philippe Baumann regards the current requirements placed on sustainability as an opportunity: “You can either perceive this as a threat and be unhappy about the new regulations that are being imposed on us,” he points out cheerfully, “or you can endeavour to view such changes as an opportunity.” In his view, what distinguishes a good entrepreneur is the fact that he or she faces the challenges the future is going to bring, instead of focusing on solving problems.

Philippe Baumann is by no means a naive optimist, nor does he deny the existence of problems. In the past he has in fact had plenty of opportunities to overcome tough times: “When I took over as CEO twenty years ago we had to deal with quite a crisis and I had to quickly learn to optimise and calculate carefully,” he recalls. Some competitors vanished from the market at that time and there followed a period of intense restructuring. In view of this he has always kept a close eye on the company’s budgets.

“I took over towards the end of the good old days. There was still room on the market for innovation,” explains Philippe Baumann. So Création Baumann was able to constantly launch new products. Today, however, a company needs to offer fewer but higher-quality products and, in Baumann’s words, “invest greater effort in sales and marketing.” This means that Création Baumann has evolved from a product-oriented business to a company focusing on sales and services.

Transformation of sales channels

The most important multipliers that promote the image of Création Baumann throughout the world are its eight subsidiaries and showrooms, plus its interior designers and architects. “Our goal is to help make our clients more successful so that they are able to communicate more effectively with their own customers – after all, it is these people who determine our own success,” says Philippe Baumann. “Architects regard us as expert producers of wide-ranging textile applications for interiors.” His team provides the architects with know-how, and the latter then provide their clients with appropriate advice.

By contrast, conventional sales outlets are constantly cutting services, and the sector is losing an ever increasing number of specialists and experienced retailers (and thus expertise and appreciation for textiles). People no longer recognise quality and now buy large quantities of cheap products instead of durable ones – including those for use in the home. But Philippe Baumann is of the view that it would be in keeping with the spirit of the times if consumers were to buy better quality products. “We need to make it clear to people that durability is the best contribution towards sustainability.” Création Baumann has always focused on the development of sustainable products: “Sustainability may be the buzzword today, but we have in fact always developed durable products.”

Insights into the creation and the showroom

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Design = function and aesthetics

While there are certainly trends and vogues in the field of interior decoration, these are never as capricious and volatile as those in the world of fashion. “Colours and materials tend to change in cycles of three to six years,” says Philippe Baumann, who is personally in charge of the product development team. Velour products are currently enjoying increasing demand and “the trend is clearly in the direction of decorative and emotive products.” But at Création Baumann it has never been the intention to merely react to trends by producing corresponding designs. “For us, design is always a combination of function and aesthetics.”

For Philippe Baumann, developing, twisting and dyeing yarns is still important today – as is weaving and finishing textiles internally. “Thanks to our own production lines we possess a unique level of manoeuvrability, innovative strength and know-how. Furthermore, we are in an ideal position to credibly answer questions about the sustainability of our creations.” The company’s systems and processes are constantly being optimised.

Anyone who wants to see all this for themselves can participate in one of the approximately seventy guided tours a year of the 20,000-square-metre production halls of Création Baumann in Langenthal. These tours are open to schools and clubs, as well as trade associations and political players. In addition, every two years Création Baumann invites the general public to visit its premises within the scope of the “Designers’ Saturday” event. This design festival was established in 1987 and remains a highly successful event, not least thanks to Philippe Baumann’s support. The next festival will be held at the beginning of November 2020.

Philippe Baumann

Recognizing the need of people in rooms is one of our most important tasks.

Focus on the next generation

Création Baumann is optimistic about the immediate future. In the next few years, glare protection and acoustics in interiors will become increasingly important. Création Baumann is one of the pioneers in these two fields and has thus secured a commanding lead over its competitors. “Identifying people’s needs in interiors is one of our most important tasks,” explains Philippe Baumann. “If we come up with the right solutions, we can be successful.”

In view of this, it is important to go through life with our eyes open and watch what is going on around us, instead of constantly staring at our mobile phone. How to use these tools sensibly is something Philippe Baumann learned during his time-out. He no longer checks his e-mails on his mobile phone, has drastically cut the duration of meetings and no longer works from home at weekends. As CEO he has to function as a role model. Good management also calls for good health: “My aim is to hand over the company one day to the next generation so that it can continue to operate on a sustainable basis,” he declares.

Insights into the production of Création Baumann

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Création Baumann is recognised throughout the world as a specialist in the fields of high-quality curtains and home textiles. It weaves, dyes, prints and finishes its own textiles and currently has around 6,000 designs permanently available in its warehouse. It has 235 employees, more than half of whom work at the company’s headquarters in Langenthal (canton of Bern). Its CEO is Philippe Baumann (53), who represents the fourth generation of the family. The company’s foundation stone was laid by his great-grandfather, Friedrich Baumann, in 1886 when he and Albert Brand established a company focusing on the manufacture and sale of linen and half-linen products. The two entrepreneurs parted company in 1905 and Friedrich Baumann went on to open the first mechanical linen weaving mill. In 1951, his son Fritz renovated the production facility and launched a collection of high-quality linen with the brand name “Goldfaden”.

The designation “Création Baumann” was used for the first time at the end of the 1950s and was later adopted as the official company name. The company gradually increased its own creative production, phased out its manufacture of linen products and shifted its focus to the production of decoration fabrics. In 1986, Jörg Baumann (who represented the third generation) opened the highly impressive new postmodern-style reception centre, and shortly afterwards carried out the largest investment in the company’s history for the construction of the automated high-rack warehouse. At the turn of the century, the company was placed in the hands of the fourth generation in the person of Philippe Baumann. He initiated the transformation from a decorative design brand to a company specialising in functional and aesthetic home textiles. Today, Création Baumann exports 64 percent of its products.

Création Baumann AG
Bern-Zürich-Strasse 23
CH-4901 Langenthal

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