100 Years Ahead of the Market

Interview with Alexander Schmid, Managing Director of August Schmid GmbH & Co. KG

August Schmid - Tanks from Donzdorf
Large agricultural machinery manufacturers rely on tanks from Donzdorf

Having been in the market for 100 years and looking forward with curiosity and hope to the next 100 years – this is how the SCHMID-Donzdorf company, located near Göppingen, presents itself. The family business, now in its 4th generation, stands for tanks and tank systems that are custom-made according to customer requirements. At the Donzdorf location, tradition and innovation go hand in hand.

100 years ago, in 1924, August Schmid founded a company in Donzdorf that made a variety of consumer goods: butter dishes, grave lanterns, tin and silver goods. Through detours such as gas station equipment and exhaust systems for the automotive aftermarket, the medium-sized family company moved to tanks and tank systems, the current core products.

"SCHMID-Donzdorf has continually adapted to the market over time," concludes Alexander Schmid, who took over the management in the 4th generation in 2023. "We want to maintain this flexibility and agility from the past."

Adaptable Development Partner

Alexander Schmid, Managing Director of August Schmid GmbH & Co. KG
Alexander Schmid, Managing Director of August Schmid GmbH & Co. KG

Today, everything at the Donzdorf site revolves around tank construction; SCHMID-Donzdorf has made a name for itself in this segment as a Tier1 supplier of renowned OEMs. "At the end of the 1990s, the sector was still very much fuel-focused," says Alexander Schmid. "Today, we are strategically realigning towards hydraulics, in which we want to specialize further and profile ourselves as development partners for our customers."

Hydraulic tanks account for 75% of the portfolio, fuel tanks 15%, and expansion tanks 10%. With these, SCHMID-Donzdorf serves the three customer segments of agricultural machinery, construction machinery, and industrial and commercial vehicles. Tanks from Donzdorf are found in combine harvesters of well-known manufacturers such as John Deere or Claas, in cranes, excavators, wheel bearings or rollers from Liebherr, Bomag or Volvo, and in garbage trucks and snowplows from Käsbohrer, Jungheinrich or Still and many other manufacturers.

August Schmid - LHB Tank Excavator
The customers also include well-known construction machinery manufacturers, including Liebherr
August Schmid - Production Robots
95% of all products are manufactured with robots

"Export, especially to other European countries and the USA, traditionally plays a central role," explains Alexander Schmid. "But even here, a lot has changed. In 2016/17, the DACH region was the most important foreign market with almost 70%; today, only 40% goes to this region, 30% to the USA."

Automatic and individual

About 90 employees work at Schmid in Donzdorf, many of them for many years. They appreciate the family atmosphere and the exciting work environment. SCHMID-Donzdorf is a classic series manufacturer, ideally involved as early as possible by customers.

"We generally start with the project phase, in which we develop the design together with the customers," says Alexander Schmid. "This is followed by the series phase with batch sizes of 10 to 5,000 units. We produce 250 different product variants per year and have more than 1,000 variants in our portfolio. That means we are not mass producers of a product family, but especially strong in highly automated variant production in medium batch sizes."

August Schmid - Powder Coating
From development to production, Schmid is guided by the customers' wishes

For Alexander Schmid, the high degree of automation – in the company, over 95% of the products are manufactured on robot systems – plays a crucial role for competitiveness. "It is important that the components are designed in such a way that they can be manufactured with high automation," he explains. "This starts right in the design process, in which we are involved. In the construction of containers, especially in the construction machinery segment, there is a trend towards heavy, large hydraulic containers. We are aligning ourselves with highly automated manufacturing for these complex products, often weighing over 100 kg, and will continue to automate to gain a stronger foothold in this forward-looking segment and to be ahead of the competition."

In addition to automation, SCHMID-Donzdorf is intensively involved with the topic of component cleanliness and also stands out from the market with exceptional performance here. "A hydraulic system contains many filters, connections, and pumps," explains Alexander Schmid. "If contamination occurs, this can lead to serious problems; therefore, our production concept is strictly focused on component cleanliness. We are setting benchmarks here and want to further expand this important unique selling point."

Close to the customer and their needs

Customers appreciate more than innovative technologies at SCHMID-Donzdorf. "Customer orientation and proximity are our top priority," emphasizes Alexander Schmid. "'The customer is king' is not just a platitude for us, but the highest commandment. Besides, performance, reliability, and innovation play a major role in competing. Only if the quality is right, can you reach the customer. Innovation, performance, reliability, and quality are the basis for us to be successful. In doing so, we always focus on the employee; only with them can a company develop further."