The First Cliff Walk in Grindelwald is a showcase project in the story of Jakob Rope Systems.
Jakob Rope Systems: 115 years of rope innovation based on tradition
The exciting story of the rope maker JAKOB’s journey to becoming an internationally successful company is marked by innovation and tradition.
Hans Jakob could hardly have imagined in 1904 that the foundation of a rope making business in the tranquil Swiss municipality of Trubschachen would lead to such a success.
In those days Trubschachen was a small village in the Emmental valley, far away from the rest of the world: it took more than two hours by train to get to Bern.
Despite this, an internationally successful rope maker whose products are nowadays distributed worldwide, managed to establish itself precisely here, in the heart of Switzerland and far away from any major traffic routes.
Views of the 140-meter-long rope walk and wire rope production in 1960s, contemporary catalogue (right). Photos: JAKOB AG
Hans Jakob himself founded the firm after finishing his training in the nearby Lützelflüh as a rope maker with one of the many village rope makers that were still around at that time. He built an almost 140-meter-long rope walk along the train route Bern-Lucerne.
At that time JAKOB produced ropes for the local farmers, forestry and construction business.
Gelmerbahn ropeway (the steepest open funicular in Europe). Photo: Di Renzo
From hemp to wire ropes
Independent production of wire ropes only began in Trubschachen in 1953 when the company was being run by Hans’ sons, Hans Junior and Eduard.
The Jakob brothers acquired the necessary know-how from the German company Vornbäumen; the first wire rope machine was a used one and came from Bad Iburg.
After WWII, growing mechanization in agriculture and forestry, for example with the help of rail transport and conveyor systems, resulted in increasing demand for stable wire ropes.
Thanks to the quality of its products, JAKOB ROPE SYSTEMS established itself as one of four large wire rope producers in Switzerland.
The new building of JAKOB AG in Trubschachen. Photo: Rollimarchini
Calling card “Jakob Inox Line”
In 1980s, the sons of Eduard, Peter and Martin, took over as the third generation and developed the program Jakob Inox Line for architectural solutions from stainless steel.
Although the marketing activity in 1988 consisted merely of a foldable flyer, this stainless steel program eventually became the company’s calling card and a color catalogue, which came out in 1991, facilitated its breakthrough. The stainless steel wire mesh Webnet launched in 2002 continued the success story of the architectural section.
Since 2008, the Webnet products are manufactured by a subsidiary in Saigon/Vietnam by more than 500 employees and distributed to more than 50 countries.
HIT-TRAC neo. Photo: Habegger AG
An international company
While the stainless steel cables have become important for Jakob Rope Systems, the company continues to maintain its traditional branches of fiber ropes, ropeway ropes and hoisting technology as the basis that enabled the company‘s success.
Taking over the company HABEGGER AG from Thun in 2016 created synergies benefiting especially customers in the cable and hoist technology industry.
JAKOB continues to provide rope making training for young people, dedicates itself to research and promotes propagation of knowledge about stainless steel ropes, for example as an OITAF member and through its handbook Mountain Manual (available online for free) which summarizes in compact form the entire JAKOB company experience with steel ropes.
Inventions & certification
Thanks to the company’s own engineering department, which has been built-up over the last few years, brand new opportunities for research and development have arisen.
Newly developed products such as the rock fall barrier Web- Tree, a rope brake absorber for heavy loads or an extra light and remotecontrolled HIT-TRAC neo from HABEGGER AG, but also customized solutions such as track cables for the Gelmerbahn with specially integrated electric wires, bear witness to the innovative approach of this company with a long tradition from Trubschachen.
Since 2018, JAKOB AG is also certified under Module H1 as a manufacturer of mountain ropeway cables and their end connections in accordance with the European Cableway Installations Regulation.
New buildings in Switzerland & Vietnam
In 1840, the Swiss writer Jeremias Gotthelf described a typical person from the Emmental valley as follows: “His horizons are not broad but he can see wisely and sharply what comes next; he does not capture new things too quickly but what he once does capture, he holds tight with a wonderfully great force.”
And so maybe it is not quite so surprising after all that Hans Jakob senior dreamt of big things for his small rope making business in tranquil Trubschachen 115 years ago.
In this sense, the new buildings in Vietnam and at the company seat are an expression of the company’s long-term faith in both its traditional roots and its people at the production site in Vietnam together with which JAKOB ROPE SYSTEMS will explore new ways to improve the tried-and-tested also in the future.