Germany’s Goldhofer has announced the takeover of Schopf; its closest rival. By Tom Allett.
In terms of aircraft tow-tractor manufacturing it is the biggest industry shake-up for decades. In January it was revealed that the two giants of the German tow-tractor industry, Goldhofer and Schopf are no longer competitors when Goldhofer Aktiengesellschaft of Memmingen announced it had taken over the Schopf group, which is headquartered in Ostfildern near Stuttgart. The group includes Schopf Maschinenbau GmbH and Schopf Rofan GmbH. Both Goldhofer and Schopf are long-established names. The former claims a history stretching back over three centuries to 1705, while the latter was established in 1948. Schopf took over the Rofan brand of ground support equipment in 2009, bringing a range of baggage, cargo and industrial tractors, which are available with diesel, CNG/LPG, standard hybrid or PowerHybrid drives.
Goldhofer’s Sales Director, Thomas Kramer, told Airports International that although the two companies will have a joint sales effort, Goldhofer intends to keep the Schopf brand and production line running because “both companies are profitable”.
In the past, the two rivals’ outdoor exhibition stands have been amongst the most prominent of all at the giant inter airport Europe shows. Although the two companies haven’t officially discussed the subject yet, Mr Kramer said he expected Goldhofer and Schopf to share an exhibition area at Munich this October. Adding that it should be: “business as usual for both companies for the next year and a half before any other possible synergies might be introduced.”
When signing the contract for the acquisition in Memmingen, Stefan Fuchs, Goldhofer’s CEO commented: “I am delighted to report that the Schopf group’s partners, Dr Hermann Brüggemann and Claus Haubeil, have decided to entrust to our care a corporation that is one of the global players in the international airport industry. We are very much aware of the responsibility that we have for the  employees in Ostfildern. At the same time we offer them the opportunity to join us in further consolidating the group’s leading market position in the field of ground support equipment.”
Regarding their market position resulting from the pooling of resources, Mr Fuchs said: “Goldhofer and Schopf are the perfect combination for quality ground support equipment for airports worldwide from a ‘Made in Germany’ double. In future we will be able to offer this market one-stop shopping, and that will make us even more attractive for our customers and enable us to cater even more for their specific needs.”
Dr Hermann Brüggemann, who was the majority shareholder and Managing Director of the Schopf group commented: “For me, the decision to sell our shares to Goldhofer Aktiengesellschaft is the ideal solution in terms of succession of ownership of the Schopf group. I am very happy for our committed employees that we have been able to find a forward-looking strategic solution for our headquarters. Goldhofer was definitely our ideal choice of partner; it is a traditional medium-sized organisation from the region that has the same values as Schopf. Goldhofer is not a corporation listed on the stock exchange but a company whose shares are all held by a foundation established by Karoline Goldhofer-Prützel. And like us, they attach great importance to human values, social responsibility and a sustainable business strategy.”
In addition to its long-standing presence in the airport industry, Goldhofer and Schopf also work in other markets. Goldhofer employs approximately 650 staff in its 1,076,391 sq ft (100,000m²) Memmingen factory, where they make heavy-duty modular trailer systems and low-loader semi-trailers. By comparison, Schopf has a range of underground loaders that makes it one of the biggest suppliers of special vehicles for the mining and tunnelling industry. They are deployed in a wide variety of mining operations: from iron ore, salt and coal to precious and industrial metals. Between them, the two companies provide tow-tractors that can handle any size of aircraft, including the world’s largest, the Antonov An-225 freighter. In addition, Schopf has recently developed a tow-tractor that can operate on naval aircraft carriers.