CHARLES BURRUS, A HUMANIST EMPLOYER
From the article by Serge Jubin, newspaper Le Temps, Jura May 10th 2011
TOBACCO INDUSTRIALIST DIES AT AGE 81
For a denizen of the Jura region, knowing Charles Burrus was a point of pride, which shows just how great his influence was. The industrialist died on Monday, at the age of 81. The man whom his fellow Boncourt citizens affectionately referred to as “Mister Charles” was a member of the sixth generation Burrus dynasty, which began in Alsace in 1814. The family built a major cigarette factory in Boncourt. The son of Leon Burrus, Charles took the helm of the family company, the largest private employer in the Jura, in 1979. Initially he worked with his cousin Xavier, the son of Gerard, and then on his own from 1985. In 1996, he sold the company to the Dutch group Rothmans, and in 1999 it was taken over by BAT.
Charles Burrus was the quintessential benevolent boss, as his forebears had been. This didn’t prevent him from selling a competitive business. The Burrus family was the first in Switzerland to offer their workers family benefits in 1916.
“Mister Charles” was quite popular. His philanthropy was appreciated. He was a major contributor to the development of the Saint-Charles Catholic secondary school in Porrentruy. He supported several athletic clubs, in particular the Boncourt football club. He sponsored the equestrian facilities at Chevenez. Charles Burrus frequented the upper levels of the Catholic hierarchy, with special ties to the Vatican. At one point, he offered the Guilé family home in Boncourt to a foundation that sensitizes opinion leaders to human and Christian values.
More than anyone else in his family, Charles Burrus remained rooted in Boncourt, although this did not stop his industrial influence from spreading throughout Switzerland. The Jura region was always grateful to him for this, particularly because he had decided to be a large contributor to the last of the cantons to be established.