There are only a few industrial companies in Austria that have such a long and successful history behind them. The courage, spirit and foresight of the Schwarzmüller family have made this possible. Thousands of employees have ultimately made the vision a reality over the past 150 years. We, the generation active at the company today, are standing on their shoulders.
The 150 year anniversary shows us precisely where we come from. It also shows us the path of our future. Schwarzmüller has grown from a blacksmith's shop into the most diverse vehicle builder with the most efficient trailers in Europe. We will use this ability to pursue international opportunities with even more vigour.
1. The beginning in Passau
PASSAU, SCHMIEDGASSE 12
Josef Schwarzmüller Sr. announced the opening of a blacksmith’s shop in a small newspaper advertisement on 25 December 1871 in Passau. Schmiedgasse 12 (or Schmidgasse, as it was then written) was the historic address of the blacksmith's shop where the Schwarzmüller family worked and lived.
THE FIRST VEHICLES
Tankers are among the vehicles with the longest tradition at Schwarzmüller. The tank contained beer. Fuels weren't transported at this point, because motorisation wouldn’t begin for another 20 years. Schwarzmüller also ran a petrol station in Passau-Innstadt from 1929.
STEEL OUSTS WOOD
Even after the First World War, everything was built by hand, with steel slowly superseding wood as the most important material. As well as the blacksmith’s shop, there had also been a wheelwright’s workshop since 1902, which allowed Schwarzmüller to produce trailers and vehicles.
INDIVIDUALLY PRODUCED CARS
We bought an engine, gears or axles and put the car body together to form a complete vehicle in our workshop. Each car was unique. Series production put an end to this laborious manufacturing process, and Schwarzmüller no longer followed this line of business.
A SCHWARZMÜLLER WEDDING
Wilhelm Schwarzmüller Sr. (centre) at his wedding with Karoline Humer. His father, Josef Jr. (2nd left) was the second generation of Schwarzmüllers. No image of founder, Josef Sr., was passed down, neither painting nor photograph.
2. The relocation to Austria
A NEW WORKSHOP IN AUSTRIA
In 1931, Schwarzmüller moved over the border into the Austrian municipality of Freinberg. Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, Wilhelm Schwarzmüller Sr. set up his workshop and home in the current location in Hanzing. At that time, he employed six people.
THE WORKSHOP GROWS
The company continued to be a non-industrial enterprise after the Second World War. In spite of the significant increase in revenue, there was still room for the entire workforce on a lorry bed. Like on this company outing...
WIDE PRODUCT RANGE
The economic miracle saw the start of the rise to a transregional company. Even back then, the wide range of vehicles was a hallmark of Schwarzmüller. This allowed us to make all customer wishes come true.
THE FIRST BRANCH: WELS
Schwarzmüller's business radius had expanded significantly, meaning that the first branch was founded in Wels (Upper Austria). It is still the largest in the Austrian organisation to this day. Vienna (1968), Lieboch (Styria, 1976) and Mäder (Vorarlberg, 1980) followed. Kramsach in Tyrol completed the nationwide sales and service network in 2000.
FREINBERG, HANZING 11
The business continued to grow in the 1960s at the Hanzing 11 site. In 1962, it already covered both sides of the road. There actually should have been a motorway built here in the 1930s, but the plan never came to fruition. The headquarters of Schwarzmüller's international organisation is still located in Hanzing.
3. The international expansion
THE FOURTH GENERATION
After more than 50 years leading the company, Wilhelm Schwarzmüller Sr. finally passed on the responsibility to his two sons, Wilhelm Jr. (left) and Egon. This fourth generation pushed the international growth forward over the next two decades.
THE EASTERN EXPANSION
Immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Schwarzmüller founded a company in Hungary. In 1993, a new factory was opened at the current site in Dunaharaszti, which is the largest in the Schwarzmüller group today. This factory produces predominantly plateau semi-trailers for long-haul transport.
A THIRD FACTORY IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
The positive experiences in Hungary led to the foundation of a company in former Czechoslovakia. Originally a sales site, it became Schwarzmüller's third production site. The factory in Žebrák, near Prague, predominantly produces tippers today.
MARKET LEADER IN AUSTRIA
Schwarzmüller became the market leader in Austria, a position which the company still holds.
THE EAST GROWS
Sites in Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were founded in quick succession. In other countries, products were imported via retailers. Before the 2008/09 crisis, Schwarzmüller supplied 20 European markets.
THE FIFTH GENERATION
The two cousins Beate Paletar (left) and Manuela Hasenberger-Schwarzmüller took over from their fathers to lead the company into its fifth generation. They concentrated on consolidating the structures which had grown so explosively.
4. The economic crisis and reorientation
60 PERCENT SALES DECREASE
The economic crisis hit the vehicle industry with full force. The 60 percent sales decrease in 2009 is the negative record in Schwarzmüller's long company history.
A NEW STRATEGY
Once Schwarzmüller had overcome the acute crisis, the foundations were laid for sustainable company development. The new strategy included brand enhancement, consistent expansion in Germany and concentration on complex vehicles for the construction industry and infrastructure companies. This was to be implemented by external management.
OFFENSIVE IN GERMANY
For the first time, Schwarzmüller appeared at IAA Commercial Vehicles in Hanover, the world’s largest trade fair for the industry. With newly developed vehicles and greatly expanded sales capacities, the company began its offensive on the German market.
COMMITTED TO COMPLEXITY
Roland Hartwig took over as director of the company and announced a production transition. The stand production in all factories was to be replaced in order to manage the production of a complex range of vehicles, including more than 135 vehicle types, in the most efficient way possible.
25 MILLION EUROS FOR MAJOR INVESTMENTS
Schwarzmüller invested 25 million euros into the new, sequenced flow production. 16 completely new lines were set up, 140,000 processes had to be redefined. Since then, the custom-made Schwarzmüller vehicles are delivered to customers in the standard delivery time.
TRAINING WORKSHOP OPENED
The training workshop was opened as the first part of the new training centre. This is where the junior technical staff can learn their first skills.
A NEW SUBSIDIARY IN GERMANY
Schwarzmüller takes over the German company Hüffermann Transportsysteme, market leader for container transport systems. This gives Schwarzmüller a nationwide presence in Germany, the company’s most important single market.
Schwarzmüller made it through the first year of the coronavirus pandemic without a loss in sales, thus proving its resilience. For the first time in the history of the company, it was the market leader in five countries: Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Switzerland. Since 2013, the company has grown by 60 percent.
5. Anniversary and prospects
HITTING THE MARK
Schwarzmüller began its anniversary year by publishing a chronicle about the full history of the company. Although the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing, the company wants to grow and exceed the 400 million revenue threshold. To achieve this, the most high-performance vehicle range in the company’s history has been developed over recent years.
A MOVE TO PASTURES NEW
Schwarzmüller has proven that the company isn't just able to grow, but that it also develops resilience during difficult times. The modern production, the innovative product range, the streamlined organisation and the consistent pursuit of sustainability in all processes have brought Schwarzmüller into an excellent starting position. Now, the top manufacturer is striving to play an even bigger role in the European automotive industry.