Data. Facts. Information. First-hand corporate communication.
Horstmar, September 2017 – In 1892, blacksmith Heinrich Schmitz founded a company in Altenberge near Münster which would grow to become Europe’s leading manufacturer of semi-trailers, truck bodies and trailers for temperature-controlled freight, general cargo and bulk goods 125 years later. The forge provided a number of different services in the early years, including horseshoeing and repairs, and was also involved in trade with agricultural machinery and ironware. Once freight transport became motorised in the twenties, the company began manufacturing vehicles. To reflect this, the company name was changed in 1932 to Heinrich Schmitz, Maschinen- und Fahrzeugbau. Around 75 people were already working for the company at that stage.
Josef and August Schmitz, the founder’s two eldest sons, took over the reins of the company in 1943, and renamed it Schmitz-Anhänger Fahrzeugbaugesellschaft in 1948. Under the motto “Schmitz-Anhänger vollenden jeden Zug” (“Schmitz trailers pull off every move”), the vehicle manufacturer from Münsterland was able to make a name for itself throughout Germany in the Fifties and Sixties thanks to its varied range and patents, including the Schmitz tracking unit. Trailers, semi-trailers, box bodies, tippers, tankers and tracking units from Altenberge also proved successful exports. In 1961, the approximately 300 employees built more than 300 vehicles, generating a turnover exceeding DM 10 million.
With the Altenberge production facility soon bursting at the seams, more plants were opened in Berlin (1967) and Vreden (1969).
The third generation, Dr Heinz Schmitz and Peter Schmitz, took over at the helm in the early Seventies, with Bernd Hoffmann joining the team in 1974. The company then enjoyed unprecedented growth in this phase through project business with oil-producing countries from Libya to Iraq. Schmitz-Anhänger employed more than 500 people for the first time in 1977, more than 1,000 in 1986 and more than 2,000 in 1992 already. Turnover increased tenfold to more than DM 250 million between 1970 and 1990 – with the company already becoming Germany’s largest trailer manufacturer at that stage.
The market changed fundamentally when the project business with oil-producing countries dried up, with German reunification in 1990, and the creation of the European Single Market in 1993. Top management decided to make a radical shift and focus on “growth through sacrifice”. With this in mind, the Genesis project was launched in 1994 and, from then on, Schmitz-Anhänger only built trailers with platforms and tarpaulins, box bodies and tipper bodies or as container chassis. Through process-driven industrial production, the lead time per vehicle was reduced from five weeks to five days and production hours from 190 to 35. The concept worked: 5,100 vehicles were manufactured in the 1992/93 business year and 17,000 a year by 1998/99, with turnover reaching almost DM 1 billion (DM 944.3 million). The company became Schmitz Cargobull AG in late 1998, with shares divided equally between the three families of Peter Schmitz, Dr Heinz Schmitz and Bernd Hoffmann.
Peter Schmitz was Chairman of the Board from 1999 to 2003, followed by Bernd Hoffmann up to 2008. Long-time manager Ulrich Schümer then became Chairman of the Board of Schmitz Cargobull AG, until a member of the owner family, Andreas Schmitz, again took over the reins in 2016. He introduced the 2025 Strategy together with another four board members, paving the way for the group’s future development in the age of digitisation and globalisation.
Since its founding 125 years ago, Schmitz Cargobull has now grown to six plants in Germany and a plant each in Spain, Lithuania, Russia, China and Turkey. Group wide, the approximately 5,700 employees produced more than 57,000 vehicles in the 2016/17 business year and generated a turnover exceeding €2 billion. The Schmitz Cargobull headquarters is located in Horstmar, Münsterland in Germany.
Many strategic decisions have been taken during the company’s transition from village forge to Europe’s leading trailer manufacturer. As a pioneer in the industry, the German company developed a comprehensive market and brand strategy early on and consistently established quality standards for its premium products spanning every level: from research and development, to production, and specialist services such as consulting, trailer telematics, financing, spare parts and used vehicles. With the Schmitz Cargobull Validation Center (CVC) in the Altenberge competence centre, Schmitz Cargobull boasts a high-tech test centre unparalleled in its industry.
Schmitz Cargobull’s numerous innovations and patents with great customer benefits have been crucial to it maintaining its market leadership. Examples include:
• Schmitz tracking unit (1937), a self-tracking rear axle for three-axle trailers;
• Ferroplast (1977), robust sandwich panels with steel cover layers that are hot galvanised and coated on both sides, with a CFC-free, insulating polyurethane hard foam core;
• Double decker system in box semi-trailers (1982), a height-adjustable support beam system doubles the amount of pallet spaces;
• Rotos (1996), a perfectly harmonised running gear with air suspension, disc brakes, axle and various electronic safety components;
• Modulos (1999), a bolted chassis with galvanised steel and aluminium components;
• TrailerConnect (2004), a tried and tested trailer telematics system (more than 35,000 active units in trailers);
• S.CS Speed Curtain (2010), a convenient body for curtainsiders which can be opened and closed in just 35 seconds;
• Transport refrigeration unit (2012), developed in-house for temperature-controlled freight with digital data integration;
• S.CS Genios (2014), an enhancement of the Modulos chassis with cold-formed l-beams and crossbeams;
• S.KI Control (2014), a new safety technology via app for tipper trailers;
• S.KO COOL Complete (2016), a complete equipment package for transporting temperature-controlled freight, including data communication and control;
• V.KO Van Bodies (2017), a rounding off of the product range to the ‘last mile’ with van bodies (from 3.5 to 6 t).
Schmitz Cargobull will focus in the future on maintaining an international presence, further trailer development innovation, sustainable cost leadership, significant production flexibility and customer proximity. The company opened a new plant in Adapazari, Turkey, in April 2017, where it is producing curtainsiders and box semi-trailers. The body kits are assembled in modern production facilities. An additional assembly line for tipper vehicles is also planned, also to the same high quality standard expected of the proven Schmitz Cargobull product lines also hold in this regard. The acquisition of a stake in South African manufacturer GRW marks the latest step into another market.
About Schmitz Cargobull AG:
With an annual production of some 57,000* trailers and around 5,700* employees, Schmitz Cargobull AG is Europe's leading manufacturer of semi-trailers, truck bodies and trailers for temperature-controlled freight, general cargo and bulk goods. The company achieved sales of approximately €2* billion in the 2016/2017 business year. As a pioneer in the industry, the German company developed a comprehensive brand strategy early on and consistently established quality standards spanning every level: from research and development, to production and specialist services such as consulting, trailer telematics, financing, spare parts and Full Service.
*Provisional figures based on the 2016/2017 business yearback