Spemot. With the company dating back to 1956, majority owner Cyrill Hammer today isn't completely certain of the name's origins. It could have been a contraction for Special Motors. Or SPE might have been the initials of the three founding sons. Regardless, in 1997 Hammer Senior acquired the company from the umbrella organization he'd worked for all his life and bequeathed the Spemot concern to his son. Hammer Jr. has since run it with his partner Roland Manz.

In the reception, a five-tier two-column glass case shows off examples of the company's current core output - electric motors to vendors like Volkswagen, Seat, BMW, Bosch power tools, agricultural clippers and industrial fans/aircon units. Such custom motors for automotive and electrical appliance vendors account for over half of the company's annual turnover.

Another 30% are generated by the Paco Jet pro-kitchen appliance, a sophisticated ice maker very popular in so-called Molecular Cuisine. It allows the creation of fancy deserts and mousses via adaptable textures with rice or bread to not rely on cream. In the past, Spemot also was contract supplier for Migros, a regional chain of upscale grocery stores in Switzerland. Under the brand name Mio-Star, Migros marketed its own line of kitchen appliances and Spemot produced them.
By now you wonder. Where's the tie-in with audio? Did we stop at the wrong place? A quick glance around Spemot's foyer would reassure you. Right adjacent to the Paco Jet display hover reprints of superlative reviews from Stereo and Hifi & Records which pronounced newcomer Soulution's hifi components of absolute reference caliber and bona fide state of the art.

Any lingering doubts would extinguish upon spotting this massive mockup amp in black across from the main display. The two-tone industrial cosmetic would get inverted to silver dominance before the Soulution brand of cost-no-object Swiss transistor audio entered our unsuspecting cottage industry in 2005. Every year since, Soulution has doubled or tripled its market share. Today the hifi activities account for about 15% of Spemot's annual gross. The first years at Soulution saw an even split between Japan/Hong Kong and European distribution (unusually, Soulution's ascendancy began in the land of the rising sun whose very demanding engineers soon gave up trying to fully comprehend the Swiss circuits). Today global penetration for the brand divides into equal thirds for the US, European and Asian markets.

From zero to hero practically overnight? Soulution's year 2005 maiden review sensation did declare their 710 stereo amplifier not only Stereo magazine's new reference, it awarded 100% for perfect laboratory measurements. But such success had really been far from instant. As is often the case, the long prelude to the eventual symphonic climax had occurred entirely out of the public eye. Soulution's resident engineer Christoph Schürmann [left] brought to the project 20 years of experience. He'd been head designer for the German audiolabor brand which music lovers Cyril and Roland had imported to Switzerland after assuming control of Spemot. They'd wanted to diversify operations and Hans-Manfred Strassner's HMS cables became their second hifi import venture. By 2000, Spemot had hired Schürmann. They no longer meant to work the hifi trenches solely as importers. They wanted to become producers. Two years later, they presented an amplifier and prototype preamplifier to various domestic dealers, then determined they had to do better still. Instead of scrapping the project, another three years of constant R&D followed until Cyrill and Christoph were satisfied.

While Soulution the brand seems to have risen out of nowhere, it actually benefited from a protracted 5-year development cycle. This was—and continues to be— financed by a 50-year+ firmly established parent company whose economic viability will never depend on audio. In fact, president Cyrill Hammer below was fully prepared to write off all audio-related R&D investments entirely should the final product not meet expectations.

Alas, Christoph's novel circuitry impressed seasoned audio experts around the globe and today Soulution is gearing up for next year's launch of their lower-priced Series 5 range.