This post comes a little late, but on Tuesday, August 23rd I had the chance to visit a manufacturing facility for a large international Orthopaedic device maker. The plant was located in Le Locle, Switzerland, near Neuchâtel, about 5km from the border with France.
Interestingly, this location started manufacturing medical supplies when a neurosurgeon from South America came to Le Locle to talk with the Tissot family (manufacturers of fine Swiss watches) about manufacturing a tiny motor for cerebrospinal shunts used in kids with hydrocephalus. After a series of business acquisitions, mergers, takeovers, and moves, the facility ended up producing a large amount of Orthopaedic implants, including titanium trauma implants, and spine implants.
I was greeted at the rail station by gorgeous weather, rolling hills, charming houses, and a smiling Antonio and Isabelle, the representatives from the plant. Antonio and Isabelle took me for lunch to a local restaurant, the absolutely fabulous Restaurante de la Gare – Chez Sandro. The restaurant, a short walk from the train station, was started by an Italian couple who have since passed it on to their son, though the father still cooks and entertains the guests (and himself, it seems). If you ever find yourself there, the Saltimbocca with homemade pasta is as good as it gets. It has since made my dreams.
Antonio, Isabelle and I talked about the region, the effect of the Swiss Franc on industry in Switzerland, and their impression of the United States. We enjoyed our food, drank a bottle of local Neuchâtel wine, and eventually made our way to the plant.
The plant tour is probably only interesting to someone like me, but it did give me a concrete image of the “Swiss Quality” that is so often advertised here. It was a great time, and I had the chance to meet lots of great people who were proud to show off the work they were doing.
When the tour was done, Antonio drove me to the train station and I boarded my train. As I rounded Lake Neuchâtel and headed toward Bern I felt really glad to be in Switzerland, if only for a relatively short time. It’s nice to remember to feel lucky every once in a while.