Mettler-Toledo International Inc. History
P.O. Box MT-100
Telephone: (+44) 1-944 22 11
Telephone: (+44) 1-944 22 11
Fax: (+44) 1 944 24 70
Incorporated: 1945 as Einzelfirma E. Mettler
Sales: US$936 million (1998)
Stock Exchanges: New York
Ticker Symbol: MTD
NAIC: 333997 Industrial Scales Manufacturing
Mettler Toledo's strategy is to enhance its position as global market leader by providing the most comprehensive, innovative and reliable solutions. The Company focuses on product innovation, increased penetration of developed markets, continued expansion in emerging markets and acquisitions in related technologies.
Mettler-Toledo International Inc. is the world's leading manufacturer of precision weighing instruments and other precision analytical instruments for the laboratory and industrial/retail markets. The company holds leading positions in most of its product categories, including a leading 38 percent of the global laboratory balance market; the leading shares of the U.S. and European industrial and food products weighing instruments markets; and the top three global market positions in such analytical instruments markets as titrators, automatic lab reactors, thermal analysis systems, pH meters, electrodes, automated synthesis products, and moisture analyzers. Mettler-Toledo is also the world leader in metal detection systems for the cosmetics, chemicals, food processing, pharmaceutical, and other industries. Based in Greifensee, Switzerland, Mettler-Toledo trades on the New York Stock Exchange.
Mid-20th-Century Balancing Act
Mettler-Toledo built its global leadership position both through internal growth and a long history of acquisitions, enabling the company to strengthen its core market areas while expanding into diversified markets. Although parts of the company, including its Toledo line, established in 1901 as the Toledo Scale Company in the United States, predate the company, Mettler traces its official origins to 1945 and the invention of the single-pan analytical balance by company founder Erhard Mettler. The company was established as Einzelfirma E. Mettler, in Kü⁄acht, Switzerland. With the introduction of its scale, the company broke the less accurate two-pan weighing mold, using Mettler's so-called "substitution principal" to achieve more accurate measurements. Large-scale production of the unit began in 1946. From the start, the company looked toward the international market for its sales.
Mettler continued to refine its technology, introducing, in 1952, the Mettler Mikrowaage ("Microscale"), capable of measurements to 0.000001 grams. Several years later, the company would be able to increase the accuracy of its measurements still further, bringing measurements to the seventh place after the decimal point. At the same time, the company began marketing a range of precision scales for weight measurements from 0.1 grams to 0.01 grams.
The company's increasing sales brought it to its first expansion moves in 1952, with the opening of the Stäfa, Switzerland production facility, which would undergo a series of extensions and remain in use into the 1990s. Two years later, the company's increasing international presence, in particular in the United States, led it to open its first international subsidiary, Mettler Instrument Corp., in Hightstown, New Jersey. This international expansion would be followed by the company's move into Giessen, Germany, in 1957. From there, the company expanded throughout Europe, and later throughout much of the world, to place its subsidiaries and its products closer to its clients. This would form the basis of the company's sales strategy, centered around a locally based sales staff. In the late 1990s, the company's sales staff would account for some 50 percent of its total payroll.
After more than a decade of strong internal growth, Mettler prepared for its first acquisition. In 1962 the company acquired Dr. Ernst Rüst AG, a maker of high-precision mechanical scales, which had been founded just three years before. The newly added division would be renamed as Mettler Optic AG. Mettler also made its first moves at expanding its product categories, introducing a thermal-analyzer, the TA 1, in 1964. By the end of the decade, the company had delivered more than 100 units of this product.
In 1965 Mettler opened a new assembly facility, in Uznach, which initially employed just three people for the assembly of the company's precision balances. At the company's Stäfa production facility, Mettler was preparing the rollout of a new product group, the FP line, an apparatus for melting point determination. Initial production was 100 units; the product line would retain a key place in the company's catalog, while undergoing successive technological improvements in the coming decades. The FP line was joined by the TM line of temperature analysis instruments, introduced in 1968, as well as the PE line of precision balances, the company's first scales to incorporate emerging electronic technology. By then, Mettler also had moved into new facilities, with the construction of the first building of its Greifensee campus, which would remain the company's headquarters through the end of the century.
Diversification in the 1970s
The company took a new step toward a diversified product line with the 1970 introduction of its DV and DK lines of automated titration systems. At the same time, Mettler strengthened its core scales component with the acquisition of balance manufacturer Microwa AG. The following year, another acquisition, of August Sauter KG, of Albstadt-Ebingen, in Germany, added that company's specialized industrial and retail scales, as well as more than 500 employees to the Mettler payroll. By then, Mettler had taken its place among the world's leading manufacturers of specialized scales and other analytical apparatus.
Advances in micro-electronics technology made possible the next step in Mettler's history: the conversion to electronic systems. In 1973 Mettler debuted its PT1200 scale, the industry's first fully electronic precision balance. With a capacity of 0 to 1,200 grams, the PT1200 had a sensitivity to 0.01 grams. The new balance proved immediately successful upon its official 1974 launch. The success of the PT1200, and its successors, enabled the company to open an additional production facility, in Uznach, with an initial floorspace of 2,100 square meters. The company continued to refine its electronics technology, and in 1979 rolled out its DeltaRange, which was awarded the IR100 Award and voted one of the most significant technical achievements for the year.
In 1980 Mettler's shares were bought up by Swiss giant Ciba-Geigy. Mettler was added to Ciba-Geigy's industrial division. The purchase enabled the company's founder to retire, while ensuring Mettler the resources for future growth. Mettler would continue, however, to operate independently and to continue its own development.
By then, Mettler had begun to expand beyond its original laboratory market to produce balances and other equipment for the industrial and retail, especially food retailing, markets. In 1982 the company presented its first electronic precision balance for industrial applications, the Sauter MultiRange. The company also introduced its PE precision scale, which featured an extremely compact form. A new product line was launched in 1985, when Mettler, in a collaboration with Ciba-Geigy, introduced its first automated lab reactor, the Mettler RCI. The company also moved into the Asian market, opening a joint venture operation in China, where it began production of laboratory equipment in 1987.
Acquiring Independence in the 1990s
The second half of the 1980s was marked by three significant acquisitions. The first took place in 1986, when Mettler acquired fellow Swiss company Ingold Firmengruppe and its line of laboratory and industrial-use electrodes and sensors. Next, in 1987, Mettler took over Garvens Automation GmbH, near Hanover, Germany, and that company's dynamic checkweighers, dosage control, and other processing systems. Whereas these acquisitions would bring Mettler into new product territories, Mettler's next major acquisition would bring the company something else: a new name.
In 1989 Mettler acquired the Toledo Scale Corporation, based in Worthington, Ohio. Toledo, which had been founded in 1901, was then the largest producer of industrial and food retailing scale systems in the United States. The acquisition would lead Mettler to capitalize on Toledo's strong brand recognition. Following the acquisition, Mettler changed its name to Mettler-Toledo AG. The company also restructured, placing its European subsidiaries under the Mettler-Toledo name.
Mettler-Toledo continued its product line expansion when it acquired the rheology and laboratory automation systems from Contraves AG in Zurich in 1990. Another acquisition made that year brought the laboratory balance production of Ohaus Corporation into the Mettler-Toledo group of products. After launching the micro-scale Mettler MT5 in 1991, with sensitivity to 0.000001 grams, the company introduced the Mettler UMT2, a fully automated balance capable of reading weights from 0.0000001 grams to two grams, in 1992. On a larger scale, Mettler-Toledo inaugurated new production facilities in Albstadt and Giesen, in Germany, as well as new quarters in Schwerzenbach, in Switzerland.
In 1993 Mettler-Toledo reorganized its Swiss operations into a more vertically integrated structure under the Mettler-Toledo AG structure. At the same time, the company delineated its balance line into three categories: Basic, Standard, and Professional. In that same year, Mettler debuted two new products: the TA8000 thermal analysis system and the AT 10005 mass comparator.
In 1996 Mettler-Toledo regained its independence from Ciba-Geigy after a management buyout, assisted by AEA Investors, a New York-based investment group, worth US$402 million. The following year, AEA Investors brought Mettler-Toledo to the public, listing the company on the New York Stock Exchange. The listing gave the newly independent Mettler-Toledo the capital to increase its acquisition drive, as the company set out to complete its product offering and consolidate its leadership position in its various markets. An important acquisition was the 1997 purchase of the United Kingdom's Safeline Ltd., the leading manufacturer of metal detection systems destined for the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, chemicals, and other industries requiring security testing procedures for their packaged products.
The year 1998 saw three more important acquisitions. The first took place in July 1998, with the purchase of Illinois-based Bohdan Automation Inc., a maker of laboratory automation and automated synthesis equipment. The move marked a further enhancement of Mettler-Toledo's position in the growing laboratory automation markets, especially in the synthesis reactor product category. At the end of 1998, Mettler-Toledo was able to boost this segment still further, as it announced the acquisitions of two drug and chemical compound automated discovery and development systems manufacturers, Applied Systems, of Annapolis, Maryland, and Myriad Synthesizer Technology, based in Cambridge, England. By then, Mettler-Toledo had elected a new company chairman, Robert Spoerry, who had been serving as company CEO since 1993.
Mettler-Toledo continued on its acquisition march in 1999. In February of that year, the company announced its intention to acquire French industrial and retail scale manufacturer Testut-Lustrana. The move pointed the way to a further consolidation of the highly fragmented laboratory equipment market. In April 1999, Mettler-Toledo completed the acquisition of full control of its Chinese joint venture partnership, which, combined with company-owned production facilities in Shanghai, would enable the company to expand its sales throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
With 46 percent of sales in Europe and 43 percent of sales in the United States, Mettler-Toledo had become one of the most global of laboratory equipment manufacturers. Its growing operations in the Asian region, which provided some 11 percent of company sales, gave it a strong foothold there, despite the region's economic difficulties in the late 1990s. By then, industrial products had risen to become the company's largest product area, with 49 percent of annual sales, as compared with just 38 percent for sales of laboratory products. Mettler-Toledo looked forward not only to extending its products to the full range of laboratory analytical equipment and apparatus for retail and industrial applications, but also to the consolidation of its industry--with itself in the leader's position.
Principal Subsidiaries: Mettler-Toledo Ges.m.b.H. (Austria); Mettler-Toledo B.V. (Belgium); Mettler-Toledo Finance Ltd. (Bermuda); Mettler-Toledo Industria e Commercio Ltda (Brazil); Safeline do Brasil Limitada (Brazil); Mettler-Toledo Inc. (Canada); Changzhou Electronic Scale Limited (China); Mettler-Toledo Instruments (Shanghai) Ltd. (China); Mettler-Toledo International Trading (Shanghai) Corp. (China); Ohaus International Trading (Shanghai) Ltd. (China); Panzhihua Toledo Electronic Scale Ltd. (China); Xinjiang Toledo Electronic Scale Ltd. (China); Mettler-Toledo d.o.o. (Croatia); Mettler-Toledo spol. s.r.o. (Czech Republic); Mettler-Toledo A/S (Denmark); Mettler-Toledo Analyse Industrielle S.a.r.l. (France); Mettler-Toledo Holding (France) SAS (France); Mettler-Toledo S.A. (France); NS Mettler-Toledo I SAS (France); NS Mettler-Toledo II SAS (France); NS Mettler-Toledo III SAS (France); Ohaus S.a.r.l. (France); Safeline SA (France); Garvens Automation GmbH (Germany); Mettler-Toledo (Albstadt) GmbH (Germany); Mettler-Toledo GmbH (Germany); Mettler-Toledo Holding Deutschland GmbH (Germany); Mettler-Toledo Management Holding Deutschland GmbH (Germany); Ohaus Waagen Vertriebsgesellschaft m.b.H. (Germany); Safeline GmbH (Germany); Hong Kong Mettler-Toledo (HK) Ltd.; Mettler-Toledo Kereskedelmi Kft. (Hungary); India Mettler-Toledo India Private Limited; Mettler-Toledo S.p.A. (Italy); Mettler-Toledo K.K. (Japan); Mettler-Toledo (Korea) Ltd.; Mettler-Toledo (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.; Mettler-Toledo S.A. de C.V. (Mexico); Ohaus de Mexico S.A. de C.V.; Gelan Engineering B.V. (Netherlands); Gelan Holding B.V. (Netherlands); Gelan International B.V. (Netherlands); Gelan Metaaldetectiesystemen B.V. (Netherlands); Mettler-Toledo B.V. (Netherlands); Mettler-Toledo Holding B.V. (Netherlands); Cargoscan A/S; (Norway); Mettler-Toledo sp.z.o.o. (Poland); Mettler-Toledo AO (Russia); Mettler-Toledo (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.; Mettler-Toledo Spol s.r.o. (Slovak Republic); Mettler-Toledo d.o.o. (Slovenia); Mettler-Toledo S.A.E. (Spain); Mettler-Toledo AB (Sweden); Mettler-Toledo GmbH; Mettler-Toledo Holding AG; Mettler-Toledo Logistik AG; Mettler-Toledo Pac Rim AG; Mettler-Toledo (Schweiz) AG; Microwa Prazisionswaagen AG; Pivott Instrumente AG; Mettler-Toledo (Thailand) Ltd.; Bohdan Europe Limited (U.K.); Mettler-Toledo Ltd. (U.K.); Mettler-Toledo Myriad Limited (U.K.); Ohaus UK Ltd. (U.K.); Safeline Limited (U.K.); Safeline Holding Company (U.K.); ASI Applied Systems Inc. (U.S.A.); Bohdan Automation Inc. (U.S.A.); Hi-Speed Checkweigher Co., Inc. (U.S.A.); Mettler-Toledo Chemistry Systems Holding Inc. (U.S.A.); Mettler-Toledo Inc. (U.S.A.); Mettler-Toledo Process Analytical Inc. (U.S.A.); Ohaus Corporation (U.S.A.); Safeline Inc. (U.S.A.).
- "Balance Basics," April 1999, p. 28.
- "Batch Plant," Glass, August 1996, p. 342.
- "Mettler Toledo Acquires Two Companies," Instrument Business Outlook, December 1998.
- "Mettler Toledo Gets the Balance Right," Cosmetics International, April 10, 1999, p. 13.
- "Mettler Toledo Set to Jump Swiss New Equity Pipeline," Euroweek, January 8, 1999, p. 20.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 30. St. James Press, 2000.