Dr. Hermann Hauswirth (1905-1989) - the process of internationalisation begins

The macroeconomist Dr. Hermann Hauswirth was in charge of the Swiss Sample Fair from 1954 to 1971. He followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, Theodor Brogle in that he campaigned for internationalisation of the fair and expansion of the specialist fairs. It was during his time in office that the Sample Fair chalked up a special visitor record.

MCH Group Hermann Hauswirth

It was Hauswirth's strategy to organise not just the sample fair to present a national overview of Swiss business but to stage increasing numbers of international specialist events for particular sectors, reflecting Switzerland's evolution in the 1950s as a consequence of the specialisation and internationalisation of industrial production. The first international specialist fair was held in Basel in 1957. It was dedicated to the timber-processing industry and still exists today under the name of HOLZ. It was followed in 1958 by the international specialist fair for environmental engineering and ecology "Pro Aqua – Pro Vita", which is regarded as the world's oldest specialised fair in that sector.

It was in the 1960s, during Hermann Hauswirth's time as fair director, that there was a gradual shift in attitudes towards internationalisation. The first factor was the decline in the number of exhibitors displaying investment goods, which left gaps in the Swiss Sample Fair (so what had been primarily a national industrial show evolved more and more into an exhibition of consumer goods). The second factor was that many Swiss companies were doing their manufacturing abroad or entering into international partnerships. In consideration of these trends, an extraordinary general meeting of the Swiss Sample Fair Cooperative decided in 1961 that, as an exceptional measure, it would permit foreign products to be displayed at the Muba sample fair. That decision was, however, reversed for several of the following years. It was not until ten years later, in 1971, at the last sample fair under Director Hermann Hauswirth, that, as an experiment, imported products in the sectors of camping equipment and toys were allowed to be displayed at the sample fair. In autumn 1971,Frédéric Walthard (1921-2014)succeeded Dr. Hermann Hauswirth as fair director in Basel.

By the way: At the jubilee sample fair in 1966, the number of visitors exceeded the one-million mark for the first time in Basel's trade-fair history.

Photo: Staatsarchiv Basel Stadt/Privatarchiv MCH Group