Zünd Opens New North American Headquarters in Oak Creek
Five years ago, when Swiss digital cutting system manufacturer Zünd decided to build a new North American headquarters, Oak Creek’s new Drexel Town Square development seemed like the perfect location to grow. Company leaders knew they needed more space to expand, and also required the ideal place to showcase their unique products. The property south of the Civic Center gave Zünd precisely what they were looking for – a space for an architecturally unique building close to a hotel and restaurants, amenities their visiting clients would need.
When Zünd America broke ground in October 2018, the vision for Drexel Town Square’s mixed-use development had come full circle. It was one step closer to having it all – a successful, worldwide manufacturer joining the living, dining, retail and medical businesses that had made Oak Creek’s new city center their home. During the building’s construction, visitors to Drexel Town Square were just as curious about the structure as they were about the company that would eventually occupy it. When the company held its grand opening celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 15, 2019, guests had the opportunity to learn about both.
Zünd Systemtechnik AG was founded in 1984 in Alstätten, Switzerland, by Karl Zünd. The founder’s vision, through the Zünd brand of equipment, forever changed the industry with an efficient digital cutting process. As Dan Ryan, CEO of Zünd America, explains, “It was immediately clear that something special was born.”
Karl’s son, Oliver, and his wife, Lucette ,moved to Wisconsin from Switzerland in 2004 to found Zünd America. Along with four other founding members, they established their presence in Franklin, to serve American, Canadian and Caribbean markets. After two-and-a-half years, Oliver and his wife returned home to Switzerland, entrusting the founding team to expand the business on the foundation they built together.
“Fifteen years later, Zünd America is one of 10 sister companies worldwide under the Zünd brand name,” states Ryan. “Zünd digital cutting machines support the manufacturing of many of the products that you use every day. From big-name clothing, shoes and handbags to car seats and high-tech aircraft components – there’s a chance you’ve had a personal experience with the Zünd brand and a Zünd cutter. It has become the big brand behind the big brands.”
Even if you’ve never heard of Zünd, it is indeed very likely that you’ve come across products of their digital die-cutting systems in the products you’re familiar with. Their large flat-bed machines are capable of cutting a vast array of materials, including paper, cardboard, vinyl, plastic, cloth, leather, rubber, wood, aluminum and carbon fiber.
“They cut just about everything except for glass and steel,” observes Director of Operations Chris Nicholson. Because of their versatility, Zünd’s cutting systems can be found in use in nearly every imaginable industry worldwide, from signs and packaging to apparel and automotive.
Zünd’s North American headquarters building, the first newly constructed facility the company has built outside of Switzerland, is 58,000 square feet – three times as
large as their original Franklin space. Ryan describes it as “a marvel of Swiss design and American construction.” The building is as impressive on the inside as it is from the outside – an open, airy space featuring polished concrete and glass throughout.
Nearly half of the building’s space is dedicated to the customer experience. The showroom floor, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, is the stunning focal point of the facility. Ten of their cutting systems occupy the space, ready for customer demonstrations. The showroom floor, however, is just a small part of the customer experience amenities of the building. Every piece of equipment sold has software to go with it, so user training is a vital part of their business.
With dedicated software and hardware training areas, the new facility allows them to do much more instruction than before. Two state-of-the-art, software training classrooms are outfitted for in-person or remote training with videoconferencing equipment. Specially designed hardware training rooms are equipped with three machines that can be configured to replicate a customer’s product. Since the cutting systems are noisy when operating, special sound-control measures have been incorporated into these rooms. Outside these spaces, machine noises cannot be heard, ensuring the right atmosphere for those training nearby.
Central to the training areas are lounge and entertainment spaces, where customers can relax, enjoy a meal or mingle with Zünd staff. Understanding that individuals coming in for training still have work and family obligations, Zünd has ensured that there are private rooms for customers to make phone calls or catch up on email. There are rest areas for coffee breaks and a large cafeteria with an outdoor balcony where Zünd’s customers and employees can enjoy a meal together.
The remainder of the building houses their administrative offices, sales and marketing staff, service department, and a small parts warehouse. A large warehouse at the rear of the building gives the company something it did not have in their old facility – the room to store an inventory of their cutting systems. In the past, they did not have a dedicated space for machines that weren’t pre-sold. Rather than waiting for specific orders to arrive from Switzerland, where all of the equipment is manufactured, they can now order in bulk, which reduces both lead times and shipping costs. Bulk ordering is also a “green” initiative, a priority of the entire Zünd organization. Instead of sending individual units via air freight, they can now be bundled and shipped by sea, lowering the carbon footprint of their operation.
Company-wide, Zünd has been committed to the environment for many years, as evident in both their buildings and their products. The new North American headquarters building was constructed with high-efficiency glass panels and skylights, allowing natural light to flood the building. Sophisticated building automation systems also aid in controlling light, shade and temperature. Sensors on the outside of the building detect the amount and direction of the sun, and automatically raise and lower the window shades throughout the building, and can dim and brighten the interior LED lights. On a typical business day, notes Nicholson, interior lights are unnecessary.
Zünd’s commitment to sustainability is also evident in the durable construction of its cutting systems. They recognize that the longer a product can be used, the smaller and more favorable its carbon footprint. The company offers a component exchange program so that when pieces wear out, they can be replaced, rather than requiring customers to purchase a new system entirely. Because the systems are modular, customers can easily modify the capabilities of their equipment to suit their needs, whether it be cutting, routing, creasing, scoring or laser machining a particular material. This versatility is what makes Zünd’s cutting systems known and used worldwide.
Even with a worldwide presence, Zünd prides itself on being a family company – one that includes its customers, employees and community. Although new to the City, Zünd is already an active supporter of the Oak Creek High School’s Round Table Robotics team, providing them sponsorship, mentorship and even meeting space.
“We are confident that the family values that made us who we are today will carry us well into the future,” states Ryan, “As we expand our capabilities, we will continue to provide world-class products, services and support to our customers.”