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Victorinox celebrates milestones, local businesses

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One hundred guests arriving at Victorinox’s U.S. headquarters at 7 Victoria Drive in Monroe Wednesday evening were greeted by Leah Pepper and Julia Filimon, who helped them make their own complimentary Swiss Army Knives. Guests were also treated to a tour of the facility led by Vice President of Operations Doug Imri and Brian Gordon.

Stacks of boxes containing the iconic Swiss Army knives, watches, travel gear, fragrances and cutlery filled the shelves, whose heights stretched up toward the high ceiling. A conveyor belt in the foreground is part of an efficient distribution system.

Imri and Gordon also showed the tour group rooms where the printing and laser engraving is done to “decorate” their products.

Lee Hossler, of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, makes a complimentary Swiss Army knife with assistance from Leah Pepper, director of marketing for Victorinox.

Victorinox hosted a summer after hours event with the Monroe and Greater Valley chambers of commerce, a networking event recognizing significant milestones. The storied Swiss company has been in business for 140 years and the town of Monroe is celebrating its Bicentennial.

Everyone gathered together inside the cafeteria, which had complimentary wine, beer and appetizers.

“We were so pleased to have this wonderful company in Shelton for many years,” said Bill Purcell, president of the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, recalling the company’s move to Monroe in 2007.

The 166,000-square-foot headquarters built by R.D. Scinto on 26 acres in Monroe “is breathtakingly modern, while still maintaining an air of its traditional European heritage”, according to a 2008 article in The New England Real Estate Journal.

Robert Scinto Jr., chief financial officer of R.D. Scinto Inc., attended Wednesday’s after hours event.

Bill Purcell, president of the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, speaks at a summer after hours at Victorinox in Monroe Wednesday.

Annette Jensen, vice president of corporate marketing for Victorinox, hosted the event. She gave her audience an overview of the history of Victorinox, from supplying a soldiers’ knife to the Swiss army in 1891 to becoming a global brand.

Many companies, including Fortune 500 companies, pay Victorinox to put their company logos on their products, which are used for sales incentives, employee retention, awards and company milestones.

Victorinox works with big name retail partners like REI, Crate & Barrel and Sur La Table, to name a few.

“We’re selective in the stores we’re in, because this is a premium brand,” Jensen said.

Carl Elsener is owner and CEO of the company, which has been in his family for four generations. His wife is the chief marketing officer and many relatives work in the company in Switzerland.

“They’re a great family. They’re very proud to be in Monroe,” Jensen said of the U.S. headquarters. “They own this building. We were a great citizen of Shelton for a long time, but we’re very happy to be in this town.”

First Selectman Ken Kellogg makes his complimentary Swiss Army knife.

“We’re so proud of the brand that you bring and the loyalty to the client base that you serve is incredible,” said Monroe Chamber President Ray Giovanni, “and that goes to the values that your company holds and we thank you for that, because it also represents what Monroe has to offer.”

Giovanni recognized the Monroe Economic Development Commission members in attendance, as well as State Rep. Tony Scott, R-Monroe, First Selectman Ken Kellogg and Monroe Planning and Zoning Administrator Rick Schultz, who was the former town planner of Shelton.

“This is one of the bigger businesses in town,” Scott said after making a complimentary Swiss Army knife earlier in the evening. “I’d like the opportunity to see what the company’s all about. They’re a well known brand. Everyone knows Victorinox. They have a wide variety of products.”

During Kellogg’s turn at the podium, he spoke of town officials’ commitment to making Monroe a community that embraces its local businesses, helping them to thrive, grow and stay in town, while attracting new ones.

“I truly believe that it’s our job locally in government to create the right environment,” he said. “That’s the crux of it, create the right environment to allow business and to allow that growth to occur without being hindered by unnecessary processes, procedures and regulations — and to do things the right way.”

“I can’t be more proud to have a global brand like Victorinox here in Monroe,” Kellogg added.

The first selectman praised Victorinox as a top taxpayer and employer, which offers high skilled jobs, boosting the local economy, while acting as a “wonderful corporate citizen” through its support of community causes.

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