Schumacher Packaging -The Complete Package
While there are plenty of companies out there with unlikely origin stories, the Schumacher Packaging Group’s is definitely more dramatic than most. A family-owned company, Schumacher Packaging was founded by the grandparents of Björn Schumacher, the Group’s current CEO. We learn how an old family business is at the forefront of packaging technology.
“My grandparents were refugees,” hell tells us. “They had nothing to do with packaging, they were farmers running from the Russians and landing here in Bavaria. To keep the family alive, they were collecting stuff from the ruins, refurbishing and selling it.”
Packaging would not become a part of the company’s identity until the 1950s when Björn’s father entered the business.
“He was a very efficient and motivated man who started to sell packaging,” Schumacher recounts. “This rapidly became the most important product for the company and in 1970 he bought the first corrugator and started production of corrugated material in Northern Bavaria close to Nuremberg.”
The company expanded until the 1990s when it started to expand internationally. The company bought some new companies, built some other companies until about one and a half companies came to the Group every year. Today, the results of that long process of expansion are self-evident.
“Today we employ 3,500 people, and we are one of the biggest manufacturers of paper and packing materials,” Schumacher says. “We produce every kind of packaging, for everything from small cosmetics to parts for the automobile industry.”
However, while the company has grown exponentially, it still holds onto the core values that its success is built on.
“What makes us unique is that we are still a very typical family company,” Schumacher says. “We have a flat hierarchy, we’re innovative, close to the customers, fast-acting, all the positive attitudes of a family company with a wide product range and international base. We’re the family-owned alternative to all the big groups, combining the best of both worlds.” Those values have led to the company building a proud reputation.
“The philosophy of Jaffabox Ltd has always been to produce quality products, delivered on time at a competitive price,” says Annette Amyes, General Manager of Jaffabox, the UK subsidiary of Schumacher since the end of 2019. “Which I believe is the same ethos shared by Schumacher Packaging. Both Companies are family businesses that not only owe their success to hard work and determination but also to the dedication of their employees and loyal customer database.”
The company has its roots in a turbulent period in Europe’s history and has seen many challenges come and go since then, but even so, there are issues arising today that give the company pause.
“We have some challenges with the international trade policies which we face today, as well as political issues such as Brexit,” Schumacher admits. “These are things which cause problems for our customers and that create problems for us too.”
But a far bigger challenge for the packaging industry, Schumacher believes, is the growing importance of sustainability.
“The sustainability discussion which affects packaging as a whole,” Schumacher says.
“But that whole discussion is not helping the packaging industry, besides the whole economic growth situation we have all over Europe right now.”
However, the Schumacher Packaging Group would not have survived as long as it has if it was not able to swiftly adapt to new circumstances, and the company has a few in-built advantages in the sustainability sphere from the get-go.
“We’re only involved in paper-based packaging, so we’re trying to combine the positive attitudes of paper-based packaging, with the latest innovations being brought into the market,” Schumacher says. “Our Halo Pack replaces plastic packaging with a combination of paper-based packaging covered in a very thin film.
You can microwave it, even store food in it. Innovation in our product portfolio is a way we try to solve the sustainability issue.”
The company’s reaction to the challenges of sustainability necessitates technical investment and technical innovation.
“We’re developing along these lines with BHS, one of our suppliers and the biggest corrugator producer,” Schumacher explains. “We’re looking into the possibility of printing the sheets right away on the corrugator to save material and energy. It’s a development that has even been awarded by the German Ministry of Ecologies.”
In terms of technological development, Schumacher cooperates a great deal with their producers to develop products that save packaging alongside new machines and technical solutions. To make sure they stay ahead of the curve, Schumacher is continually involved in close partnership with leading machine suppliers.
“We are an R and D partner for most of the important machine suppliers,” Schumacher says. “We develop new machines together with BOBST. Our Research and Development projects begin at the very earliest stages of development to try to get the test machines into our facilities so that we can develop new machinery together with our partners. It’s actually starting to be integrated into our processes a lot earlier than it was 20 years ago.”
However, the Schumacher Packaging Group is more than its machines. At heart, it is still a family company, and families are about people.
“These typical family business attitudes are important to us, we want to be a family business,” Schumacher tells us. “We live by these principles with our partners, our customers, our suppliers and of course our employees.”
The employees are, of course, at the centre of those values.
“We try to really have a very good relationship with our people,” Schumacher says. “We treat them as our partners and we live by that and it is known by a lot of people. So, fortunately, we had a very good situation as far as new employees are concerned.”
The result of that situation is, simply, a reputation.
Schumacher points out, “A lot of people want to work for us because they’ve heard how the company is developing and that we live our principles towards our employees.”
But potential employees are not the only people Schumacher intends to attract with its values.
“We have a clear strategy that we want to be here for our customers, give them an alternative to the big international companies,” Schumacher says. “We’re a typical family company. Today we are not yet in every country in Europe and we want to solve that. We want to be present in all of the important markets, helping to solve their challenges.”