This story is about how diligence and ambition can make a person rich. A typical Swedish engineer, Ruben Rausing, eventually became one of the wealthiest people in Europe. But he made his fortune on the usual paper packaging for drinks. True, the embodiment of a successful idea took 24 whole years of permanent work.
The future founder of the Tetra Pak brand was born in 1895 in a small fishing village near Raus. Even by the standards of Sweden, this city was tiny. The parents of the future millionaire wore the usual Anderson name in Scandinavia. However, when Ruben served in the army, he was nicknamed Rausing.
Starting to do business, he began to use this pseudonym, not wanting to drown in the ocean of Andersson entrepreneurs. After serving, Ruben went to study at the Trade University. After Stockholm, there was practice in America. For some time, Rausing worked in printing, and then plunged into the world of the packaging industry.
The history of the appearance of the legendary brand originates from the usual idea, which seemed to lie on the surface. In the late 1920s, the food industry experienced a boom – it reached a fundamentally new level. People began to make semi-finished products, the production of preserves was rapidly growing. There was a need to transport food for long distances.
Observing such processes, Ruben Rausing quite logically suggested that the food industry needs a new economical and hygienic packaging. At the time when the youngest engineer began to realize his ideas, there was nothing but ambition and ambition. Relatives of the rich did not have him, he himself was the first in a family with a higher education.
To implement his plans, Rausing decided to borrow money from wealthy industrialists. At first he addressed the founder of Electrolux, Axel Werner Gren. But he refused a loan, considering such ideas as empty. Financiers Wallenbergs came to the conclusion that the packaging business is too risky. Rausing had to rely only on himself. In 1929 he, together with his friend and like-minded Eric Okerlund, founded a small firm called “Oaklund and Rausing”. And four years later, Ruben bought out a stake from his companion and became the sole owner of the business. It is this company that will create in 17 years the famous Tetra Pak.
After Rausing recruited the necessary staff, he began to work. At the same time, we had to engage in creative work. So, the engineer had to create several variants of packaging – for sugar, for flour and for other bulk products. But the packaging for milk, he did not give. Until the 1940s, milk and cream were sold exclusively in glass bottles or bottled. It was not very convenient – such a container was easily beaten, and leakage of the product passed through the bottling.
So, as it seemed to Rausing, the market should have been enthusiastic to accept a new one-time package – lightweight, sterile and cheap, able to be easily transported. However, the young enterprise could not get back on its feet. Rausing himself was visibly nervous, because in the war many people made their fortune in armament, construction and other large-scale operations. Packaging business on this background looked clearly losing and unprofitable.
Nevertheless, the company’s employees Eric Torudd and Eric Wallenberg did not waste time in vain. They constantly came up with more and more varieties of packaging. First they tried the construction in the form of a parallelepiped. Once Wallenberg fell ill, being at home with a high temperature, he made and made new mock-ups. Suddenly Erika dawned – the ideal form should be a tetrahedron, a tetrahedron. After all, it is easy to glue together, and there will be no problems with easy filling of the container. This form is convenient, takes up little space and can easily be transported from place to place.
And although the discovery was essentially made by Eric Wallenberg, Ruben Rausing designed the patent for his name.Only a few decades later, in 1991, the Swedish Science and Engineering Academy, like other similar institutions, recognized the true author. He was awarded a gold medal for his discovery. The discovery became so significant that in his honor the Nobel Prize winner, physicist Niels Bohr, said: “Never before in the history of man, the mathematical idea has found such a successful practical implementation.” And Rausing’s merit was that he managed to integrate engineering solutions into the world of big business.
Although the form of packaging was invented in 1944, several years passed before it was produced in bulk quantities. Let Sweden and did not take part in the fighting, the country’s economy lacked momentum, and the finances for the implementation of the project was tight. And creditors saw that there was a purely engineering problem. It turned out not so easy to find the right material in which you could store milk and cream. It’s good that Rausing was able to endure. In addition, he was distinguished by frugality, he himself lived modestly and invested all his profits in scientific development.
To protect the paper surface, Rausing tried many types of plastic. As a result, it was decided to stop on cardboard covered with polyethylene. But before such a material was used exclusively in the defense industry. Then there was a need to create a technological chain and come up with special equipment. Only in 1952 the first packing line for the production of tetrahedra was created. With her help, the dairy company Lundaortens poured cream with a volume of 100 milliliters. According to one of the legends, the line was delivered to the dairy in Lund city in a horse-drawn carriage. After all, Rausing so economized on everything that he refused even from the lorry.
In the same year of 1952, the industrial testing of the line began. With the end of tests a couple of years later, Rausing had to convince customers to buy milk, packed in his way. The adaptation did not go as smoothly as it would have liked – the householders often spilled milk on the floor after cutting off the top of the sachet. It’s good that supermarkets started to grow in those days. Trade became streaming, so universal packaging was necessary. It turned out that the tetrahedrons fit well into the container, and are easily placed on the shelves.
Already in 1953 the paper pyramids from Tetra Pak began to be used by all the largest dairies in the Swedish capital. Then this example was adopted by other major Swedish milk producers. And outside Sweden, Tetra Pak equipment was first delivered in German Hamburg, Alster Milchwerk made it. So the successful march of the brand began on the planet.
Now Ruben Rausing could finally calm down a bit. He introduced a seemingly simple idea for 24 years. And to conquer the market with his technology, the engineer had to untangle a tangle of technological, scientific, financial and marketing problems. But the reward for perseverance was worthy. Over the next 10 years, the company’s turnover grew by 30%.
The owner of Tetra Pak himself continued to search for new applications for his invention. The technological line was slightly altered, which made it possible to produce not only tetrahedra, but also a prism. Packages in the form of “brick” for some countries were more in demand. In 1956, Rausing opened a huge factory in Lund. There and today, the main office of the company, the main production facilities and laboratories are located. Thanks to research, in 1961, an aseptic version of packaging appeared. He allowed a much longer shelf life of dairy products.
Such commercial success has engendered from the company’s management the idea that successful cardboard packaging can be used not only for milk. The Swedes attracted foreign partners and, together with them, began research in this direction. In 1974 Canadians from Leiterie Cit were the first to put juice in Tetra Pak.The following year, Rausing’s products came to the market of Asia, the Swedes signed a contract with the Iranian government. Soon, convenient packaging began to be produced in China and the UK. It is important that in Asia and Africa did not even have to spend money on advertising. In these regions, hygienic and lightweight packaging in the form of a pyramid allowed manufacturers to more easily resist heat and better transport products to remote locations.
And in 1961 the first factory for the production of milk in paper bags appeared in the USSR. The authorities of the country bought from Rausing immediately 20 production lines. In 1980, the packaging from Tetra Pak was officially recognized by the US health authorities. Entering the American market was for Rausinga-businessman the latest achievement. He stepped away from the business, coming up with global natural projects for his native Scandinavia. The former engineer could afford it, because his company, together with its subsidiaries, has already become a major empire with an annual turnover of 8 billion dollars.
In the early 1980s, the company, because of large Swedish taxes, moved abroad. Ruben Rausing himself died in 1983. His sons, he left a unique business, similar to which in history was not yet. The children of the businessman live in England, from their father they inherited not only the industrial empire, but also the main features of the character – perseverance, passion for rivalry, intuition. In 1989, the International Institute of Nutrition recognized Tetra Pak technology as a major invention in the food industry over the past half century.
By 1992, the company had grown so much that it was decided to change management principles. So there were three regional offices – American, Asian and European. The Rausings brought collegial management into their business. The sole head of the company and the central top were no longer required. In 1993, Tetra Pak merged with Alfa Laval, spawning a large concern Tetra Laval International.
Now the company not only manufactures packaging, but also creates equipment for creating food products. The direct packing unit brings 20% of the profit. Today the company employs more than 30 thousand people, it produces 90 billion packs per year. The sales volume exceeds 10 billion euros per year. The world sells a lot of products in the package from Tetra Pak – dairy products, juices, wines, sauces. True, now the shape of the parallelepiped has become fashionable.