A success story

WASCOSA - how the freight car pioneer gathered speed.


Always on the move

It could, of course, have been quite different – Max Sandmeier might not have established himself in the leasing business but in the food industry. That’s how he started – as a junior book-keeper in a drinks business in Leysin. After completing his studies at the commercial school in 1944 the 17 year-old Max started his first job. And was bored stiff, particularly in the winter when sales were slow. Max Sandmeier was a «go-getter», someone who is always on the move. But at last, after completing his two years’ military service during the course of which he was commissioned as an officer, his career really gathered speed …

The three founders of WASCOSA: WAelty-SCOtti-SAndmeier


Success achieved by going against the flow

It’s always worth going your own way, even if this means going against the flow. In 1949, at a time when many Italians were coming to Switzerland to work, the 22 year-old Max Sandmeier followed the call of his uncle, a man who was always in search of business opportunities, and moved to Genoa. At that time there were no oil refineries in Europe. Switzerland had to import its oil products from depots located along the Italian coast using small two-axle freight cars which were often in need of repair. Uncle Giovanni scented a business opportunity: he offered importers such as BP, Shell and Esso a repair service incorporating Swiss quality. Max Sandmeier was put in charge of the private railway workshops. His organisational skills were valued on the commercial side of the business and he quickly learnt what was involved in the repair work. What was originally seen as a job for just three months was to lead to a successful future. Then Pietro Scotti soon came on the scene …

1949: The 24 year old Max Sandmeier follows his enterprising uncle to Genoa


The hint of great events to come

Pietro Scotti, a self-made man, knew a good worker when he saw one and, in 1951, offered Max the opportunity of joining him as a partner in his repair company, OFIM. OFIM repaired tank and other freight cars for the Italian State Railways. The business really took off after Max Sandmeier came on board. The eight employees they had in 1951 had grown to 40 one year later. A busy period in which they never neglected the slightest opportunity now started for Sandmeier and Scotti. In the early 1960s when OFIM started making two-axle tank cars in addition to their repair work, an idea was born …


WASCOSA: WAelty – SCOtti – SAndmeier

Sandmeier and Scotti, who always led the way with flair and a pioneering spirit, once again had a nose for the signs of the times. Max Sandmeier therefore brought his brother in law Jakob Waelty on board to form the Swiss company WASCOSA along with himself and Pietro Scotti. WASCOSA specialised in leasing railway cars, first in Italy, then Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary …

And the rest is history: Every year seven million people travel through the Eurotunnel and WASCOSA has conquered the European railway system step by step. What started with a few two axle tank cars in 1964 has grown to a very substantial fleet of about 7,000 cars by the time the company has come to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2014.