From left to right: Peter W. Gygax – CEO, Lilly Gygax – Marketing, Charly Gygax – Logistics
I first met Peter at an ASTRA Marketplace & Academy in 2015. Later that year, he traveled from his homebase in Switzerland to our November Inventor Pitch and Conference events. Since that time, we’ve met up at our events and others around the world. Peter clearly loves our industry and always has a big smile when you see him. I was excited to find out he was the second of three generations in our industry – and they were all within and passionate about the game industry. I’m sure you will enjoy reading their story as much as I did!
How did you and your family first enter the toy industry?
My father has been in the toy business for over 20 years. It was always his dream to have his own company. Once he retired, he took the chance and founded Carletto in 1986, and I joined him six months later. The first game we distributed in Switzerland was “Uno”. I was on the road as a sales agent, my father in the office, and my mother packed the parcels.
How did the company evolve?
Working from home soon became difficult, and we moved into a small office and hired our first employees. Years were full of ups and downs, and alongside this, I was learning everything on how to run a business. In 2000, I took over as CEO, but my father and mother were actively involved in the company until 2005. Even after this, they were always curious to hear and see what the company and the team were doing. We also expanded the company to other German markets, namely Germany and Austria, and now have an office in Nuremberg. In addition to the distribution business with Carletto, we founded a game publisher named Game Factory. We also insourced logistics for the Swiss market, which has become a real advantage in recent years.
Do you think the next generation will get involved?
Our children were always involved at a young age, as they were the best advisors for new products. However, we never asked or pushed them towards this industry, and each of them pursued completely different pathways. Nevertheless, two of our three children joined us last year.
How has the business changed over the years?
In a way, everything and nothing has changed: If you look at the way we work, there is a considerable difference. Everything is digitalized nowadays; we communicate faster and more effciently with all stakeholders. However, this is applicable to nearly every industry. In the 90s, all companies started manufacturing in China and Asia in general. After several years of supply chain issues, many try to return to Europe or the US – and we observe their challenges in implementing new production sites. What definitely remained, and even increased, is the desire of parents to have only the best for their children – and this is something we’ve considered from the beginning.
What advice do you have for others thinking of joining the family business?
I joined the business when I was 21 and thought of it as a short term project with my father. I didn’t know what I had signed up for. Looking back, I believe it is important to be on good terms with the family and to have clear positions and tasks – no matter how big or small the company might be. Also, keep on learning something new every day!
Never stop playing!