Do lawns have to be green?

In recent years the Tischhauser brothers have made several bold strategic decisions, and now they are paying off. The Tisca textile company has a diverse customer portfolio, ranging from the airports in Singapore and Seoul to Arsenal and Liverpool football clubs. Asked about its success factors, Andreas Tischhauser – Tisca’s co-owner and joint CEO – lists courage, vision, energy, and thinking outside the box. And of course a passion for textiles!

Text Isabella Awad Photos Anna-Tina Eberhard

In recent years the Tischhauser brothers have made several bold strategic decisions, and now they are paying off. The Tisca textile company has a diverse customer portfolio, ranging from the airports in Singapore and Seoul to Arsenal and Liverpool football clubs. Asked about its success factors, Andreas Tischhauser – Tisca’s co-owner and joint CEO – lists courage, vision, energy, and thinking outside the box. And of course a passion for textiles!

Rugs from stockings

Tisca was founded by Anton Tischhauser, the current owners’ grandfather. The company focused on textiles from the outset. During the war years, the biggest problem was getting hold of raw materials. They started weaving carpets from old clothes and stockings to bring a touch of comfort to austere dwellings. “There was a time when the trend was towards other types of flooring like wood or stone,” says Andreas Tischhauser. “We thought hard about expanding into them, but we decided to stick to textiles – though making our range as broad and deep as possible.” Over the years, they have specialized in four main markets: Living, Commercial, Mobility and Sports.

Much more than just fabrics

“We see our task as designing spaces with textiles. Because in order to feel comfortable in a room, you need textiles – no matter what else you’ve accomplished,” Andreas Tischhauser continues. Not many people know that textiles do much more than give a room a face: because they hold dust and bacteria, they improve air quality. They regulate humidity in the air, and they have a sound-absorbing effect – which is neighbour-friendly. And they have an insulating effect, which saves energy. Those are just four of the benefits they bring. “Bringing comfort” remains Tisca’s main objective to this day. And not only indoors: the company has also developed a special range for balconies and terraces. But living is not something we only do at home. Tisca’s Commercial division is expanding its range to cover offices, public buildings, hotels, retirement homes, theatres and the like.

Art comes from ars, the Latin word for skill

“A plant manager suggested that the technology we’ve been operating for decades could also be used to produce artificial turf,” Andreas Tischhauser recounts. At first the Board of Directors shot the idea down, but they were willing to give it a try as long as somebody gave it his full attention. Andreas Tischhauser, who was working in the USA at the time, seized the opportunity – and in 2005 he took over the new Sporttisca division, and with it the production of turf systems. Tisca’s next step was triggered by slack demand in the Living division: in 2006 it created the Mobility Textiles Division, which focuses mainly on aircraft, trains, buses and ships.

Football, golf etc.

Tisca Sports started off with artificial turf for football. Golf, tennis and multi-sports – school grounds and playgrounds – were added later. Originally operating only in Switzerland, Tisca is now active internationally. “When we talk about artificial turf in football stadiums,” Andreas Tischhauser explains, “we mean the perimeter of the pitch. The actual playing area is usually natural grass.” Liverpool is a work in progress, he says, while Arsenal and Tottenham have already been completed. The Tischhausers are proud of that: “These are all blue-chip customers.”

The great outdoors

“Strategically we don’t plan down to the last detail,” says Andreas Tischhauser. “We try to lay out the general guidelines.” The establishment of the Mobility and Sports divisions is an example of this. “We wanted to find a way to make up for a declining core business.

Carpets were no longer in fashion. The strategy was to use our existing skills to conquer new markets. And it worked.” The pandemic has shown that diversification is like good insurance, he said. “Until 2004 no one thought of taking the business outdoors. It was football that opened up the great outdoors to us.” Andreas Tischhauser is clear that it is now becoming more and more important in the domestic sphere as well. “Outdoor carpets, outdoor curtains, outdoor fabrics... it’s a worldwide megatrend.”

Founded: by Anton Tischhauser in 1940

Managed: by Andreas, Matthias and Nick Tischhauser

Employees: 200 in Switzerland and another 200 or so abroad, in Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Romania.

Production: All Tisca’s machine-made items are produced in Switzerland, while hand-made textiles and those with very elaborate manufacturing processes come from the company’s foreign subsidiaries.

Tisca is a Helvetia customer

Improving and surprising

As an owner-managed company, Tisca is free to make its own decisions – and to make them very quickly. “As a Swiss company, we rarely win on price – so we have to compete on quality, and constantly strive to improve.” Functionalities are becoming increasingly important in this respect. One USP is that they produce fabrics and carpets from a single source, making it possible to offer customers holistic concepts. This is what differentiates textile manufacturers. Inspiration and innovation can arise any time and anywhere.

What does a company need to be successful?

Focused entrepreneurial flair

Strict focus is eminently important. If this translates into a sustainable, well-functioning business model that is implemented with commitment and continually refined, success is bound to come.

In addition to the in-house design and technical development team, says Andreas Tischhauser, it is architects, planners, employees or a discussion among brothers that provide the impetus. Contacts with research institutes such as the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) and the University of St. Gallen.

Shocking pink or turquoise?

Andreas Tischhauser’s success factors are courage, anticipation and energy. He uses the example of artificial turf in a vivid explanation: “Back in 2005 we wanted to bring something better to the market than the current products in this area. First and foremost, we wanted to produce an artificial turf without rubber granulate – which is damaging to the environment. Nobody in the sports sector was interested in sustainability at the time: many people actually found the term laughable. Today the subject is on everybody’s lips.” There is another important point too: thinking outside the box and cultivating external networks will move you forward. One example is their coloured artificial turf. Because why does grass always have to be green?

viva. climb.