The two had their first, only telephonic contact in the middle of the nineties. Richard Pratt and his Swiss friend and businessman Peter Riggenbach from Muttenz were on their way to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos when Peter told him that he had met a Swiss entrepreneur that would produce pallets and also houses with corrugated cardboard. Already more than the half-way to Davos the two made a turn back and drove to Romanshorn where Fredy Iseli’s new business centre was located to see what he had invented.
At the end of the year 2000 Fredy Iseli had a business meeting in Australia and tried to get in contact with Richard Pratt. As it was not possible, before the flight to Sydney, his wife Claudette was able to arrange a meeting with Richard Pratt’s secretariat during the flight.
Since he was also in Sydney at Fredy Iseli’s arrival time, they arranged to meet for breakfast at the hotel on the following day. At this meeting Fredy Iseli showed the fourth richest Australian at the time some pictures and television documentaries about the construction of the first model house at the company SWAP established by Fredy Iseli in Frankenberg near Chemnitz, which was shortly before the target of an unfriendly takeover.
After about ten minutes Richard Pratt then made the following suggestion: “Come work for me. I’ll pay you $500’000 a year!” Fredy Iseli answered: As you hire, you fire – I’ve never worked for someone else before! The two of them had a good time and took it with a portion of humor.
After breakfast Richard asked Fredy to pack his things and to be ready by five so that his chauffeur could pick him up at the hotel. Then Richard took Fredy with his private jet to Melbourne, which was of course a great privilege and an unforgettable experience for Fredy.
Arrived in Melbourne Richart offered Fredy to stay in his “house”. For the architect Fredy Iseli this was a very special experience, as he had never seen such an enormous residence in his whole life. The original house was built in the 19th century by the Archbishop in Art Noveau style and was enlarged by the Pratt’s with a modern extension in glass and steel. Richard offered Fredy to spend the night in his son’s “room”, which was the whole upper floor.
The next day Richard showed his visitor the world’s largest corrugated board factory and introduced him to his team.
The meeting with Richard Pratt has given Fredy Iseli the courage and the duration of being able to work on the ECOCELL project. Finally, he has infected Fredy with the positive “virus” of being able to design houses out of corrugated cardboard.
His son Anthony Pratt expanded the company further, with a focus on the United States, and together with the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison he was able to present his new plant in Ohio to the US President Donald Trump.
Pratt is the world’s largest privately owned packaging and paper company and grew from the 46th largest corrugated box producer in the U.S. to the 5th largest. It is the only major paper container board company that is 100 percent recycled.