02 Nov 2020

75 Years of History and Innovation

Today FELCO is synonymous with quality and durability among pruning professionals. The FELCO brand is the culmination of 75 years of technological innovation at the service of pruning professionals.

The history of FELCO manufacturing is inseparable from its creator, Félix Flisch. This mechanic by training was also a genius inventor. Born in 1914 in Appenzell, Switzerland, Félix Flisch came to the Dubied factory in Couvet to complete his apprenticeship. He then worked for some time at Ryser in Peseux, a manufacturer of… pruning shears. It was there that he discovered this pruning tool with a design which he considered outdated. Made of steel, it was heavy, unwieldy and, above all, after multiple sharpening, ready for the scrap heap.

Young Félix Flisch thought about it. His idea: to propose revolutionary pruning shears. With forged aluminium handles, that are much lighter than steel tools while maintaining their strength. Above all, the cutting components are interchangeable and replaceable, so when they are worn out, they can be replaced and give the tool a lifetime of use.

The idea was considered too innovative and did not appeal to the owner. With that, Félix Flisch left his job to start his own company. But he did not really have the means to do so. An apprentice friend, Maurice Petitpierre, had some savings which he lent Felix to set up the company in 1945 in Geneveys-sur-Coffrane, in the canton of Neuchâtel. A region which is the birthplace of Swiss watchmaking. This was not insignificant, as Félix Flisch intended to make pruning shears a true precision object.

The two men were joined by Jean-Louis Purro and production began in a former watchmaking workshop. They met with immediate success among wine and fruit growing professionals. Soon the decision was made to export, particularly to Belgium and the Netherlands.

A key date in the company’s development is 1948 with the launch of the FELCO 2. This model of pruning shears became the brand standard, still in production today, having already sold more than 16 million units worldwide. The success of this tool opened up new perspectives. At the beginning of the 1950s, FELCO launched a complete range of cable cutters with an innovation – the triangular cut.

Félix Flisch was a demanding boss but with a big heart. He insisted on having a special relationship with each of his employees and took good care of them. A lively and energetic man, he was a great lover of the mountains and spent his rare leisure time up in the mountain peaks where he would think about new developments for his products.

Comfort of use was therefore another constant focus of improvement for him. In 1966, FELCO began offering ergonomic tools with rotating handles for an easier cutting action. Above all, the company continued to develop its infrastructure. The factory expanded and new equipment was added to the workshops.

At the beginning of the 1970s, a new technical director arrived: Régis Auderset. A genius mechanic, at ease in all technical disciplines, who brought additional impetus to developments. And in the field of assisted tools. In 1974, FELCO began offering power-assisted tools and launched the first pneumatic pruning shears.

Having become a symbol of quality and professionalism, FELCO continued to grow and, in 1978, changed its status to become a limited company whose shareholders were the direct descendants of the founder, who retired in 1979. His son-in-law Eric Perrin took his place at the head of the company.

New products appeared. The first left-handed pruning shears were introduced in 1980, the pull-stroke saws in 1984 and the loppers the following year. The first electric pruning shears, the FELCO 80, was launched in 1991.

The company expanded its distribution network with the creation of several distribution subsidiaries from 1989: FELCO Belgium (Benelux), FELCO France, FELCO Australia, FELCO Deutschland, FELCO Africa, FELCO Canada and FELCO USA. In order to verticalize its production processes, FELCO SA became the majority shareholder of Prétat SA in 1997, a specialist in aluminium casting and precision die-forging, and the producer of all forged aluminium FELCO parts.

Félix Flisch continued to closely follow the development of the company he founded until his death in 2000. When he died, the company was in good hands and his teaching continued to be cultivated internally. With the turn of the century came a new generation change. Time for the third:  Laurent Perrin succeeded his father, Eric Perrin, in 2003. He was joined the following year by his brother Pierre-Yves. The company took advantage of this opportunity to modify its structure. Flisch Holding now comprises FELCO SA and Prétat SA. In 2005, FELCO celebrated its 60th anniversary and was simultaneously awarded first prize by the Swiss Venture Club.

In 2010, a new company was founded: FELCO Motion SA which is responsible for developing electromechanical products such as the FELCOtronic, electric pruning shears, which were launched two years later. In 2011, FELCO SA hired a new CEO not a member of the founder’s family: Christophe Nicolet who worked in technical and the watchmaking industries. Laurent Perrin remains a director and now looks after the North American markets based in Canada. A new generation of FELCOtronic was launched in 2012: FELCO 820 and FELCO 801. The company forged alliances and signed partnership contracts with STIHL and VIKING in 2014.

Respecting the environment has always been a key element in FELCO’s development. In 2015, the factory installed a solar power plant on its roof with a capacity of 100kW which supplies 5% of its electricity needs.

Recognition by the Swiss Government and Swiss Industry in 2018.The iconic FELCO 2 was awarded the Swiss Grand Prix of Design 2018 by the Swiss Federal Office of Culture and the company received the Award for Industrial Excellence from “Industrie 4.0 – The Shapers”.

In 2019, FELCO enters the future as tools become connected and services digitized. This is the case for the smart device connected FELCO Power Blade Series® electric pruning shears as well as for DIGIVITIS, a live digital vine pruning management tool for which FELCO received the Innovation Award at the SITEVI show in France. A new era is dawning for FELCO – that of digitalisation.

Finally, in 2020, on its 75th anniversary, FELCO SA and FELCO Motion SA are joining forces to build a new FELCO under the slogan: “Building tomorrow together”. Learn more