Logistics of Tomorrow

Interview with Julia Schmitt, member of the executive board heading Corporate Development at Schmitt Group

Julia Schmitt, member of the executive board heading Corporate Development at Schmitt Group
Julia Schmitt, member of the executive board heading Corporate Development at Schmitt Group

Logistics is the second largest economic sector in Germany. With more than three million employees and a turnover of around 319 billion EUR in 2022, Germany holds a share of about 25% in the European logistics market. Of the approximately 70,000 companies, most are classic medium-sized businesses – including the Schmitt Group from Vellberg. The family business convinces with experience, know-how, and flexibility, concerning the rapid implementation of solutions.

Economic Forum: Ms. Schmitt, the Schmitt Group is a successful family business that can build on more than 85 years of experience. How can you roughly sketch its development?

Julia Schmitt: The company originated from a classic forwarding agency – with one truck in the post-war period. A milestone was the move to the current location in Vellberg; especially the logistics area, which today accounts for 70% of the business volume, has grown successively over the past years. But the forwarding agency is also an important pillar in the portfolio. Both business segments are closely intertwined and go hand in hand.

Economic Forum: How is the company positioned today?

Julia Schmitt: In addition to the headquarters in Vellberg, there are additional storage locations within a radius of about 20 km which we are further expanding. Depending on the season, we employ around 400 employees. After Corona, we were able to record a record turnover of 40 million EUR and today, we expect to continue growing healthily.

Schmitt Logistics Storage Area

Business Forum: The executive management is the responsibility of her father Günter Schmitt and her uncle Jürgen Schmitt. They represent the 4th generation, have grown up with the company from childhood and act as a woman in a male-dominated industry. Where do you see the focal points of your work?

Julia Schmitt: My role is dual and definitely strategic. I am very interested in exchange and am present at trade fairs and events. A topic that is particularly close to my heart is the issue of skilled worker development. It was my personal wish to become more active in this area and to show commitment, for example to strengthen employee retention. Our new administrative building has contributed to this, creating an oasis with its open, modern ambience where employees feel comfortable, which invites exchange and has strengthened the team. We have set up various large projects on the topic of employee retention, for example, a company health insurance with a budget for each employee. In addition, there are small things like water dispensers and fresh fruit at every location. In our region there are many large players, and therefore it is difficult to find qualified staff. We currently have a project to recruit employees from abroad.

Business Forum: Schmitt relies on the two pillars of logistics and forwarding. How do you differentiate yourself from the competition here?

Julia Schmitt: We are very broad-based. Additional services such as labeling and packaging, the so-called Value Added Services, are becoming increasingly important. Labeling certain cleaning agents, for example, must comply with various international guidelines and standards. We are particularly strong in the automotive and special machine construction sectors. In 2019, we built the first hazardous materials hall, thus setting a new focus. This is about the storage of car batteries, which demands the highest safety requirements. We therefore work with infrared cameras for heat monitoring. Since July 2023, there is another hall equipped with a sliding rack for car batteries. Given the booming electric mobility, we were able to gain an early foothold in a promising market segment. In special machine construction, we store individual components of large machines – from the smallest screw to the largest sheet metal part – which are delivered by us to production at the right time.

Schmitt Logistics Hazardous Materials Warehouse
With the new hazardous materials warehouse, Schmitt responds to the growing demand for storage options for car batteries

Economic Forum: By establishing a hazardous material storage for car batteries, Schmitt responded early to a megatrend. Is this a key to success?

Julia Schmitt: Yes. Early detection and response are crucial to remain competitive. Equally important is caring for the well-being of our employees. We are down-to-earth, have a flat hierarchy, always an open ear for our employees, and offer exciting development opportunities. Many employees have been with the company for 10, 20, or 30 years; we see this as special recognition. Last but not least, quality awareness is deeply embedded in our culture and lived by everyone. This also applies to our motto 'One goal – One passion'. Together, we work to satisfy our customers with tailor-made services.