In its 170 years of existence, Schneider Electric has successfully met many challenges by making important strategic choices The Company's growth path over the last few years has led it to expand in electricity by acquiring firms with complementary competencies in this area. With three international brands Merlin Gerin, Square D and Telemecanique, Schneider Electric is today one of the world's leading manufacturers of equipment for electrical distribution, industrial control and automation. 1836: Founding of Etablissements du Creusot In 1836, two brothers named Adolphe and Eugene Schneider acquired the Creusot mines, forges and foundries, gaining an opportunity to participate in the great adventure of the Industrial Revolution. Their main markets were steel, heavy industry, railroads and shipbuilding. 1840-1870 - Thirty shining years The Schneider brothers benefited from the spectacular rise of industry in the 19th century and grew their business by making smart technical choices and building a strong network of relations. In keeping with his mission as an "enlightened" executive, Eugene Schneider set up employee programs to create a community for the plant workers' families. The troubles of 1870 For Schneider, 1870 marked the end of an era. Upheavals related to the fall of the Second Empire and hard-fought strikes tarnished the Company's shining image of success Moving into the world market International ambitions At the turn of the century, Eugene II made investments in many countries, in mining, electricity and steel. Most of the Company's exports stemmed from its success in weapons manufacturing. On the eve of World War I, Schneider had risen to the challenge set in 1870 to build cannons as effective as Krupp's. Technical breakthroughs and buoyant businesses Eugene's son Henri Schneider learned from the events of 1870 and recognized the obvious superiority of steel for military use. New processes introduced in the 1860s and 70s yielded a stronger steel at a lower cost. Schneider innovated in iron and steel production and quickly became one of Europe's leading manufacturers of weapons and infrastructure. Labor relations, Schneider style At the end of the century, the Schneiders became increasingly concerned with meeting their workers' needs in the areas of education and general welfare. However, the cozy world of "Schneiderville" was unable to eliminate all labor disputes, as was seen in the long strike of 1899. The heady post-war years After playing a major role in France's victory in 1918, Schneider had to reconvert to a peacetime economy. It was during this period that the Company took advantage of the expansion of electricity, steel and cement in everyday life. Three firms that are now Schneider master brands were also founded during these years: Merlin Gerin, Telemecanique and Square D. Breakthrough in Germany and eastern Europe After World War I, Schneider began setting up operations in Germany and eastern Europe. Its partnership with Skoda was one of the highlights of this strate Ten years later, Germany's renewed power seriously threatened Schneider's subsidiaries in eastern Europe, and very close ties were broken as a result. At the same time, the recession of the 1930s and arrival of France's Front Populaire government took a heavy toll on the Company. From 1940 to 1944, the German occupation put Schneider in a very difficult position, and its watchword was "endure but resist".
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