When we moved to Cormatin in 2008 we had never even heard of Taizé and Cluny, and especially not Massilly. Then we regularly passed through Massilly, en route from the gite in Cormatin to our house in Cortambert, but didn’t pay much attention to the factory with its neat façade on one side and pretty landscaped parking areas on the other.
The factory at Massilly
We know now that Massilly is synonymous with making tins. All sorts of tins from food tins and aerosols to decorated biscuit tins and tin trays. And caps for glass jars and bottles by the million.
The story began in 1911 when Robert Bindschedler, originally from Switzerland, bought a disused mill that had belonged to the Abbey at Cluny. In the river Grosne he installed a battery of turbines to produce electricity for recuperating tin by electrolysis from scrap metal. In the 1920s his small factory at Massilly began manufacturing household items such as basins and buckets. By 1952 the Robert Bindschedler Company had become well known for printing on tinplate and making screw tops to meet the demand of the growing bottling industry.
Massilly in the early 1960s
In 1959 Robert’s son Pierre took over the business and began the production of decorated biscuit tins and trays, for which Massilly is probably best known to the public. You’ll find these in most households, always stamped at the bottom with the Massilly logo which Pierre devised, an angel with an anchor, the latter homage to the Bindschedler family who were formerly fishermen on Lake Zurich.
In 1976 the factory at Massilly adopted new techniques for the manufacture of tins, electrical welding and stamping and re-stamping. In the 1980s Massilly set up factories in the UK, Spain, Switzerland and Italy. More recently, plants were set up in Canada, Ghana and South Africa. Massilly also took over other canning firms, for example Franpac who canned fish. An offshoot, Massiservices, was set up to develop new techniques, test the conformity and safety of canned goods, and be involved in the training of technicians and the installation of machinery in canning factories.
The Massilly group now has a turnover of more than 300 million euros and employs over 1,200 people in 25 companies in 9 countries. Every year 60,000 tons of tin and 2,000 tons of aluminium are used to make 2.5 billion caps and 500 million tins and aerosols. In Massilly itself the factory has extended to more than 50,000 square metres, crossing the boundary of the neighbouring commune of Bray. Three hundred employees cover three shifts throughout the year.
Our tins from Massilly
We would love to look around the factory, and in fact once joined a group of visitors going in but found it was employees’ families only and didn’t get past the front desk. But we’ll keep our ears open for news of a porte ouverte.