The girl with a sweet tooth
The Lackerli Huus factory in Munchenstein, Canton Basel-Land, is easy to find when you know how--and if you don't, "simply follow the smell of the Lackerli," advises a local post lady. 600 tonnes of Basler Lackerli Originals leave the big, white, window-dented factory annually, so it is far from perplexing that the scent should linger so vividly in the air. And oh, how it intensifies when you enter the building.
Rather distractingly, when you have an interview to conduct, there is a plate full of these small, spiced gingerbread-like biscuits (Lackerli)--the confectionary company's most famous products--on the table in owner and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Miriam Blocher's office. Piled high on filing cabinets and spread across the desk are tins full of goodies --alongside the Lackerlis, 300 tonnes of candies and 200 tonnes of caramels are made each year.
"I have always had a sweet tooth," admits Blocher; I refrain from asking how she maintains her slender figure. "Sugary products are my main source of energy. When I was a child, my mother asked the doctor what she could do to stop me eating sweets all the time. He told her it was a phase that would pass--but it never has!"
She laughs infectiously; it is a childlike touch to the suit-clad, award-winning (2012 Idee Suisse Award for Innovation) businesswoman. The self-assured and up-front honest Blocher admits that despite her penchant for the sweet stuff, she is not a master confectioner herself. "I do bake at home and it's nice, but it doesn't look so nice," she claims. Call it fate, but the 37-year-old's self-confessed lack of practicality encouraged her to follow the academic route into the food industry. "I didn't really know what the university course in Food Engineering was, but I thought, food is always good and I love eating, so I will study that," Blocher says, of her course choice at the ETH Zurich.
One successful family
It was a smart move that subsequently saw her spend three-and-a-half years as production director at herbal candies company Zile Bonbons AG and then at drinks manufacturer Thurella AG. That she is a woman, she says, has not affected her career: "Working as a production manager is really a man's field, but I didn't feel disadvantaged. I mean, you are mainly a character and I think you form your career and your life around that."
If the name Blocher sounds familiar, that is because the...