At the start if this year, GSE supplier Goldhofer acquired another major player in the ground support equipment field, fellow German company Schopf. That move was just one aspect of Goldhofer’s plans for expansion
The deal was signed on 1 January after about six months of negotiation between Memmingen-based Goldhofer and Ostfildern-headquartered Schopf, which includes Schopf Maschinenbau and Schopf Rofan and has a total workforce of about 160 employees.
Stefan Fuchs, CEO at Goldhofer, explains: “There were two reasons for our acquisition of Schopf: first, from our side, we had made a strategic decision to grow in the aviation market. Second, we produce towbarless tractors but these are not always the best solution – sometimes a towbar is better, and vice versa. With Schopf we are able to offer a complete programme – it’s one-stop shopping for all our customers.”
And there are other benefits, too. Fuchs expects that Goldhofer’s performance in the market will improve due to its expanded sales force – now almost doubled with the addition of the Schopf team.
In addition, the acquisition will open up new markets for Goldhofer, since Schopf has made deliveries to customers in about 160 countries around the world. “Goldhofer now has a foot in the door in those countries and if those customers want to innovate their GSE fleet they can easily do so,” he notes, referring to the combined offering of both companies’ equipment.
According to Fuchs, employees at both companies have been “full of energy” since Goldhofer’s ‘Sunrise’ integration project began. The plan is to take the best of each company and move forward, resulting in an enterprise that is greater than the sum of its parts. One reason this is going so smoothly is that both companies speak the same language, come from the same culture and are located close to each other geographically, Fuchs points out.
Another bonus is that the management at Schopf is completely on board with the take-over – which was the choice of retiring managing director and former majority shareholder Hermann Brüggemann – and is continuing to run that business as usual. “This means that there is no pressure for us to make changes in a hurry or send our own people in; we can integrate with patience and concentration on the things that matter, in an intelligent way.”
Fuchs continues: “We’re proud that a German company has been bought by another German company. I think about 80 percent of all deals to buy companies are opportunities. If another opportunity comes up we will check it out and if it looks good we will go for it, but we’re not actively looking yet because we want to integrate Schopf first.
“You have to move step by step and we’re not big enough yet to handle more. Communication is important for us so we could consider another German or English-speaking company, but for example a Chinese company would be more difficult – you have to have a translator you trust.”
Regardless of how quickly or slowly the company expands, Fuchs is confident that Goldhofer will enjoy a positive position in the market in years to come. Observing that the GSE market fluctuates constantly, with investment in aviation equipment drying up in the bad times, he says: “I still see it as a growing market – but you have to be able to handle the ups and downs. You need to have enough money in the bank to handle a crisis. If you’re a very big company you can have problems with this.
“At any rate, I’m convinced that flights will go up, especially into new areas like Brazil or India. I think we’ll have a fruitful future,” he concludes.
- In addition to its GSE range, Goldhofer also produces heavy-load transport equipment such as heavy-duty modular trailer systems and low loader trailer systems, while Schopf’s GSE portfolio is complemented by a range of underground loaders designed for the mining industry.