Andrea Schulte

The SCHULTE story

 

SCHULTE Lagertechnik has a long tradition it can look back on. In the following interview, our Managing Director Andrea Schulte offers a personal insight into over 90 years of the company's development and the people behind it.

Ms Schulte, right from your childhood, you have been closely connected to the company of your grandfather. Did you always dream of running SCHULTE one day?

Yes, I have been fascinated by the world of business people from a young age. For me, it was always something special when I accompanied my grandfather to the office, heard the banging of the typewriters and saw all the frantic buying and selling. When he went through the post, I used to take the envelopes and cut out the prettiest stamps, which often came from all over the world, and add them to my collection. As my father sadly died in a car accident at a young age, my grandparents prepared me early on for the fact that I would one day be in charge of the company. As the first-born child, it was a responsibility that still fills me with pride today.

How did you find this as a woman?

I have never seen a difference between men and women. In her day, my grandmother was involved in what went on at the company. In 1936, she got her driving license so that she could chauffer my grandfather to customers and suppliers, which really was quite unusual at the time. She was also closely involved with the company.

Do you have any role models?

Perhaps not role models exactly. But there are biographies of successful business people that inspire me.

… a responsibility that still fills me with pride today.

 

For many years, SCHULTE has been in the hands of the founding family. What is your motivation?

Following my uncle who had led the company successfully for many years, Gebrüder Schulte is now run by the third generation of my cousin and I. It was always clear to us both that we would join and lead the family business. The nice thing about our company is the very flat hierarchy and the employees who fully support us. This is what enables us to stay on the road to success. And makes it fun too, of course. Whether it will be such an easy decision for our children to join the company, I'm not so sure. I think we'll leave that to them to decide.

What is the story behind your family business?

Originally, my family ran a tannery. That's where our nickname "Lohgerber", meaning tanners, comes from. However, my grandfather didn't want to carry on with this trade. So together with his brother, in 1921 he founded the Gebrüder Schulte metalworks and managed to get the company through the difficult times of the Great Depression and the Second World War. He then successfully led the firm to growth during the time of the economic miracle. Thanks to his stories and confidence in me, it was always clear that I would join the company and continue the family tradition. I also directed my studies to this task.

Which products did Gebrüder Schulte start with?

Our first products included curtain poles. This was when every window had curtains. Then in the 1950s came along the shopping trolley bag. We have always looked around to see which products are needed in the home. Our major customers at the time were the department stores and the catalogues such as Otto or Quelle. At the start of the 1960s, we then started with household shelving for storerooms and cellars.

Now, you are achieving market success with industrial shelving. How did that come about?

Thanks to good fortune. A number of local representatives had merged and were looking for a new manufacturer. As we were already producing household shelving, it wasn't a huge leap to move to industrial shelving too. At the time, a lot of bolted shelving was still being sold, so at first we simply just had to use thicker materials.

Over time, we then built up our industrial shelving division.

We will continue to work on new product developments.

 

In addition to shelving, SCHULTE also plans and manufactures complete mezzanine systems. What led you to that?

As we built up our project business with multi-storey shelving systems for small parts warehouses, we found that more and more steel constructions were being used. Mezzanines are often added to these shelving systems and, as a result, we were able to develop planning and production expertise here in house. It made sense to tap into a new market segment with mezzanine systems.

Where do you see yourself and SCHULTE Lagertechnik in 20 years time?

In 20 years, I see SCHULTE continuing to be one of the leading manufacturers in the industry. We will continue to work on product development. Project business will continue to gain in significance. And the topic of "service" with respect to storage technology will become even more important. In this vein, we have recently brought out a new visualisation software for our customers, which enables them to plan and view shelving systems in 3D.

I believe that our company is well positioned for the future and I am looking forward to meeting the new challenges of the market with innovative products and motivated employees.