BERNINA have sewing machines all sewn up

BERNINA top-of-the-line sewing machines at the Steckborn plant

Almost every Swiss person has sat in front of a BERNINA sewing machine at least once in their lives. After all, the machines are an integral part of craft lessons at school. And for people who sew professionally or as a hobby, sewing machines from the Thurgau family business are always the first choice. This success is rooted not only in the company's high quality standards, but also in BERNINA's great innovation. Throughout the company's history, stretching back over 125 years, its main product has undergone a whole series of reinterpretations.

Invented in 1893 by Karl Friedrich Gegauf, the sewing machine was a very important tool for families at the turn of the century. Later, it developed into a design tool for the modern housewife and is now an unbeatably versatile tool for textile designers. BERNINA machines have always delivered an enormous range of options for customisation.

BERNINA — used around the world, at home in Switzerland

The history of BERNINA International AG goes back a long way. The Steckborn-based company has been a leading global manufacturer of sewing and embroidery machines for more than 125 years. This Swiss family-run company has always been synonymous with innovation and precision. That means that BERNINA sewing machines deliver excellent handling, quality and durability. BERNINA sewing machines are utilised all over world by users who are passionate about sewing. It is hardly surprising then, that BERNINA continues to be very successful with its typical Swiss values. In 2022, the BERNINA Textile Group not only recorded significant growth in all segments and product sectors, but also generated the highest turnover in the company's history. Quality never goes out of fashion.

BERNINA building in Steckborn with a view of Lower Lake Constance

Global success

In 1990, BERNINA outsourced the production and assembly of its simpler machine types to Thailand. BERNINA continues to manufacture its top-of-the-line products in Steckborn — the only household sewing machine plant outside Asia! The BERNINA plants in Switzerland and Thailand work closely together, using identical processes and quality principles. The technology and design of all BERNINA sewing machines are developed in Steckborn am Untersee. That is also where the company manufactures all its prototypes, develops its tests and techniques and also defines its quality testing processes.

The main benefit of this is how close the development, testing and assembly teams are to each other. This makes a massive contribution to maintaining quality. All top models and its longarm quilting machines are assembled and tested in Steckborn. Specialists in the "BERNINA Flextec" department manufacture presser feet and replacement parts.

A familiar sight for the Swiss for almost 125 years — the BERNINA sewing machine
Responsible for global quality — high quality measurement and testing procedures in the measuring room in Steckborn

A global player

Today, BERNINA is present in 80 markets globally, where its products are mainly sold by independent retailers. BERNINA generates 90% of its turnover abroad; more than 60% in the USA alone. The example of the USA shows how important it is to have a presence in all the main markets. Quilting, in other words making and decorating patchwork blankets, pillows, dresses, bags, cases etc. is very popular among Americans. The BERNINA series of longarm quilting machines is therefore tailored to this growing market segment.

Assembly work on BERNINA 5 series sewing machines at the Lamphun plant

A piece of Switzerland can also be found in northern Thailand, where BERNINA sewing machines up to the 7 series are manufactured. Quality standards and quality control are identical to Steckborn. The workforce of around 500 in Thailand undergoes thorough training before being introduced to their tasks under Swiss management and are fairly compensated for their work. The BERNINA family includes over 1200 employees globally.

Tool exports with Brütsch/Rüegger Tools

Like many Swiss companies with subsidiaries abroad, BERNINA insists that these subsidiaries are run in exactly the same way as the parent company. This means that raw materials, production machines, tools, testing and measuring equipment, tolerances and even auxiliary material and cleaning products should be identical. In Thailand and in Switzerland, BERNINA is guided by the principles of lean manufacturing, with a straightforward, transparent production process in which the fitter is responsible for a machine all the way from initial assembly to the final product.

Brütsch/Rüegger Tools has been supplying a large proportion of the required equipment and tools to the factory in Lamphun for years. The largest tool specialist in Switzerland takes care of all the transport and customs clearance tasks. BERNINA Thailand orders through the ToolShop and receives the goods within 48 hours. Much faster, says the company's management team, than buying through the local manufacturers' representatives.   

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