Japanese oral hygiene specialists

Japanese company Sunstar has called Etoy home for nearly 10 years now, having chosen the canton of Vaud for its favorable framework conditions and also for the similarities in mentality between Switzerland and Japan.

When it was first founded in Japan, Sunstar was a manufacturer and distributer of rubber glue for bicycle inner tubes. From 1932, the company progressively built on this technique to develop toothpastes. Nowadays Sunstar is an international group active in the consumer goods sector, primarily in oral hygiene products. It established premises at the Littoral Parc in Etoy in 2009 and opened a second building there in 2015. It was the first Japanese company to set up its global and European head-quarters in the canton of Vaud.

"We chose Switzerland for various reasons, in particular for its similarities with Japan in the way of thinking," explains Wieland Noetzold, administrative director for Europe. "These two countries are close on a number of points. They share a vision for the long term and set great store by the concepts of quality and durability, amongst others. Moreover, it is easy to find qualified labor in Switzerland. There are high levels of security, the environment is conducive to investment, there are quality infrastructures, and administration is efficient. We particularly appreciate the international environment in the canton of Vaud, as well as the excellent contacts we have with the authorities and commercial partners."

80 employees at Etoy

The company had global sales of 1.2 billion francs in 2016 and now has almost 80 employees of various nationalities and educational backgrounds in Etoy. "We have a number of expatriates from our Japanese base," Noetzold adds, "while the others were recruited locally at every level, from the maintenance of the buildings to upper management. We are highly satisfied with the availability of highly qualified and motivated personnel, which has enabled us to keep pace with the growth of our business. The 15 nationalities represented by our employees and their language skills really help up us to act as a global center."

On a global level, the company operates in 16 different countries (USA, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia) and employs over 4,000 people. Its activities in the canton of Vaud cover various regional and global functions: administrative support, research and development, human resources, finance, IT, legal aspects, purchasing, and public relations. To produce and distribute their products, they regularly use various retail channels (including pharmacies and distributors) around the world. Sunstar’s main financial investments in the canton of Vaud are the land and the two buildings that the company occupies in Etoy, at a total cost of 60 million francs.

The fight against periodontal diseases

Sunstar is constantly developing and launching innovative new products, with recent examples including GrindCare (a device which limits the grinding of teeth during sleep) and the Guidor range (products to help health-care professionals to improve the condition of teeth that are diseased, damaged, or poor in appearance). One of its main commercial successes is the Gum range of products to fight the bacteria that cause periodontal diseases, which harm the bone tissue supporting the teeth and affect 70% of the world’s population.

"Our clientele is every consumer in the world that wants to maintain good oral-dental hygiene," says Noetzold. "We also have specific products for people with certain oral conditions such as dry mouth, or inflammation caused by diabetes or the treatment of cancer." In the years to come, the business is hoping to continue its development in Europe and around the world, in particular for people with health problems or with particular requirements in terms of oral-dental hygiene (diabetic patients, the aged, or those with dental implants).

A valuable support from the Economic Promotion

When it came to setting up business in the canton of Vaud in 2002, Sunstar was able to count on support from various sources. Mr. Noetzold was particularly keen to mention Economic Development – State of Vaud (DEV), which provided the company with the information and the administrative support it needed to register, and with help in finding premises. DEV also enabled Sunstar to get the right financial and fiscal advice.