The Broschek family, a stopped train and animals with hearts

Grete Berger, daughter of Josef Herbert Berger and his wife Valerie, was born in what was then Imperial Vienna at the turn of the century. Grete took her first steps among medicine bottles and test tubes. Josef Herbert Berger was director of the Vienna Serological Institute. For health reasons the family moved to South Tyrol where they opened a pharmacy in Meran. Valerie died at 26.

Grete Berger followed the path of her father and studied pharmacy in Vienna. But love sneaked into the formula when she met the merchant Otto Broschek, whom she married in 1923. Otto, an active hiker, worked in banks, publishing houses and, of course, in his father-in-law’s pharmacy in Meran. Years later, after World War II, the Berger family began manufacturing local anaesthetics in special Italian glass ampoules.

When Josef Herbert Berger died, Grete Berger and Otto Broschek took charge of the business and made it prosper thanks to the distribution of German pharmaceutical products across the Alps in Italy. In 1926 their son, Herbert Broschek, was born. Everything went well until the outbreak of World War II forced the family to return to Vienna. There they found their family home destroyed. They decided to move to the city of Vorarlberg, fleeing from the Russian armies. They got on a train to that destination, but chance took them down another route. The locomotive stopped near the small Tyrolean town of Fieberbrunn, where it was unable to cross a bridge shattered by bombs. The year was 1945.

The first generation of the Broscheks, our founding family, took refuge for three years in a room on a farm. Famine was as big a problem as a shortage of medications.

On December 1st, 1947, “Gebro G. Broschek KG” – the name an acronym in honor of the first family pharmacist, Grete Broschek – was founded in Fieberbrunn. The founding team consisted of Herbert and his parents. Two years earlier, in 1945, the entrepreneurial spirit of Herbert Broschek had already brought a stuffed toy factory into being. The animals produced there were known as the “Tiere mit Herz” – animals with hearts.

Herbert took up the baton from his grandfather and mother and studied pharmacy in Innsbruck. There he met his soulmate, Helga Luger, also a pharmacist. He was to marry her after eight years of courtship. The family expanded its number to four: Grete, Otto, Herbert and Helga.

In “Gebro G. Broschek KG” gender equality was ahead of its time. Women ran the technical-scientific part of the company and men took care of the management. Otto died in 1978 and Grete in 1984. Herbert and Helga and their son Pascal, born in 1969, gave way to the next generation. Herbert and Helga died in 2009 and 2015 respectively. Pascal Broschek is the current President of the Gebro Group.

From 1947 until the present

That small laboratory in the Alps has become one of the most important pharmaceutical companies in Austria and a group with subsidiaries in Switzerland, Hungary and Spain. The company, a leader in the area of ​​pain relief, had a turnover of €185M in 2018 and currently employs around 500 people.

The Broscheks never made it to Vorarlberg, but that did not stop them from going on a great journey. The main reasons for their success have been as follows:

  • Between 1957 and 1968 they signed license agreements with Swedish and German companies and expanded and modernized the factory. They produce almost all the galenic formulations. During these years Gebro investigated the fluoride content of drinking water in Austria and found it to be very low. The company started to provide hundreds of thousands of Austrian children with a fluoride-rich product for caries prevention.
  • In 1966 the R&D department was created – a source of the innovative products to come. In 1989 an anti-inflammatory product began to be marketed and in 1993 products indicated for the treatment of central diabetes insipidus and nocturnal primary enuresis (urinary incontinence) also came to market.
  • In 1978 Helga and Herbert, in response to a request from the Municipal Council of Fieberbrunn, rescued sandal manufacturer Vital.
  • Gebro started to become internationalized and opened its doors in Switzerland (1976), Spain (2002) and Hungary (2007).
  • In 2000, phytotherapy research was extended to Switzerland thanks to the acquisition of the Alpinamed brand, which specialises in the production of herbal extracts, sanitary products and high-quality cosmetics.
  • The Broschek family has received, among others, the Medal of Honor of the Republic of Austria. Herbert Broschek was awarded Fieberbrunn’s citizenship of honor for Herbert Broschek, and Helga Broschek was awarded the Tyrol Merit Cross.
  • In 2012 Gebro Holding GmbH was founded.