On the right track for decades

Interview with Karl Diehm, Managing Partner of Robert Kunzmann GmbH & Co. KG

Robert Kunzmann Workshop

The automotive industry is undergoing change; mobility is being rethought. Cars will continue to have a firm place in the mobility mix in the future, will be climate-friendly and smart, and will drive autonomously. At Mercedes, the share of electric vehicles is expected to be up to 50% by 2025. Robert Kunzmann GmbH & Co. KG from Aschaffenburg is a family-owned traditional company that has relied on a close partnership with Mercedes-Benz from the beginning and is accompanying the shift towards e-mobility.

Founded in 1935, ten locations, 1,080 employees, including 180 apprentices, a turnover of 580 million EUR – Kunzmann dealership can be briefly and concisely described with numbers and facts, but it stands for much more: for a close partnership with Mercedes-Benz and thus for a wide range of high-quality vehicles, for excellent service, for proximity to customers and the goal of maximally satisfying them.

Continuously picking up speed

The management today is in the hands of Karl Diehm and two employed managing directors. "Kunzmann founded the company in 1935, my grandparents took it over in the 1950s," says Karl Diehm. "I grew up in the business, which, despite continuous growth, is still very family-oriented. We have many long-term employees, some of whom have been working here for almost 50 years. My father joined the company in 1965 and celebrated his 55th company anniversary in 2020."

Karl Diehm, Managing Partner of Robert Kunzmann GmbH & Co. KG
Karl Diehm, Managing Partner of Robert Kunzmann GmbH & Co. KG

To its current size with ten locations, Kunzmann has mainly grown through organic growth; since 2000 there has been a strong focus on acquisitions. When Mercedes-Benz decided to sell part of its car dealerships in 2015, Kunzmann took the opportunity and acquired a large branch in Fulda. "A milestone," says Karl Diehm. "With the acquisition, we set foot in a different economic area for the first time, adding 200 new employees and a turnover of 130 million EUR. That was a major boost because we had always grown continuously and moderately and pursued a regional strategy until then."

In a class of its own

A constant over the decades is the cooperation with Mercedes-Benz – for Karl Diehm "the best and most valuable car brand there is." A brand that stands for values like quality, stability, and safety and at the same time is sporty and conservative – values with which Kunzmann can identify. Unlike other brands, Mercedes has a broad lineup and offers passenger cars as well as transporters, trucks, and buses.

"Through the various divisions, we are less dependent on the economy," explains Karl Diehm. "With this broad lineup, Mercedes-Benz occupies a unique position in the market. We have always committed to staying loyal to Mercedes and not incorporating any other brand. Due to mergers, we temporarily carried Chrysler in our range, plus we have VW in service, but that is a smaller commitment with twelve employees."

Setting course for new

At the beginning of 2024, Kunzmann will nevertheless include a new brand, KIA. "Mercedes will in the future focus on the luxury segment and reduce the offer in the lower price segment, making the brand too expensive for some of our customers," says Karl Diehm. "With the KIA brand, we can again offer cars in this price segment for our customers."

With KIA, Kunzmann will represent a brand that convinces with a good price-performance ratio, attractive design, and good driving qualities. "KIA approached us directly," says Karl Diehm. "Many things speak for a collaboration with the brand. For example, that it offers a seven-year warranty, which binds customers to a workshop for a long time. With German brands, it's two years. Even though we have taken a new step with KIA, we will keep the number of brands as low as possible in the future."

Service that makes a statement

Holding on to traditional values, responding to new ones – for Kunzmann, this is part of the company strategy. "We offer many electric vehicles and assume that they will play a central role in the future," says Karl Diehm. "Our customers are strongly polarized in this regard. Still, price, range, charging time, and lack of infrastructure prevent many from deciding on an EV. In the commercial sector, there are also no more subsidies; this too leads to purchase reluctance."

It is mainly private customers who come to Kunzmann for the selection, competence, and excellent service to buy a car. "Good service can be a competitive advantage," emphasizes Karl Diehm. "Thanks to our good reputation over decades, we were able to build a stable customer base." In eight showrooms, including five for new passenger cars, customers can look at vehicles and test drive. In the past, interested parties strolled through car dealerships, but today they inform themselves in advance on the Internet, approach salespeople directly, and usually know exactly what they want, according to Karl Diehm's experience. Kunzmann seems to meet customer expectations – 2022 was a record year for the dealership; transporters were especially in demand, and the service developed very well. This course will also be maintained in the future.