New owners of Schmidt Industries look to broaden scope of business

Significant change in culture within the business is showing positive signs.

There comes a time when all of us must face the grim yet daunting task of divesting ourselves of a friendship, once unassailable, in favour of a new and invigorating relationship ignited with passion and endless, yet-to-be-determined possibilities. This is no easy choice, and there is no unequivocally guaranteed outcome. Metaphorically speaking, high-pressure aluminium die-caster Schmidt Industries reached this crossroad in the company’s history last year when the company was taken over by a major creditor that has implemented a turnaround strategy that will realise the true potential of the company.

HW Schmidt Industrials was established in 1952 by the late Heinz-Werner Schmidt, and has in excess of 50 years of experience in high-pressure aluminium die-casting manufacturing. The company has the capacity to produce high-pressure aluminium die-cast components for the automotive component industry as well as other industries. More recently it had begun manufacturing blades and hubs for an industrial fan manufacturer.

Investors Alan van der Veen and Mike Taylor took control of the company in August 2019 and immediately began implementing a new strategy that would allow the company to broaden its scope of clients and build on those that the company was already servicing.

“We have been particularly successful with our aluminium toolboxes since we launched them. Casting a toolbox of 2mm wall thickness is as a result of our innovative thinking and design capabilities.”

Schmidt Industries, as the company is now known as, has for a long time been a first and second tier supplier of components to the automotive industry and a manufacturer of its own range of toolboxes, hand tools and garden tools.

“The business was a very tightly controlled family run business,” said General Manager Graham Dow, who had been working for the company since 1981 and was re-appointed in August 2019 after a six-month absence.

“Since the new shareholders took control of Schmidt Industries, we have seen a significant change in culture within the business and a change in structure and management. Large or small, every organisation should operate with a defined organisational structure. The creation of a corporate culture that supports the strategic vision clarifies reporting relationships and supports good communication – resulting in efficient and effective work process flow.”

“We have retained all staff that were employed before and have made the following new appointments – Group Production Manager, Group Financial Officer, a Quality Control Manager and a CNC Machining Manager,” continued Dow.

Situated in the industrial area of Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, Schmidt Industrials has an array of CNC machines, cold chamber high-pressure die-cast machinery and plastic injection moulding machinery at its disposal. Within this facility the company also has a computer controlled automatic blade grinding plant, a sophisticated hardening plant, an epoxy powder coating plant and a computerised laser printer.

The Bühler Evolution 84 D840 ton high-pressure die-casting machine is robotically unloaded

The main focus in the aluminium die-casting department is a Bühler Evolution 84 D840 ton high-pressure die-casting machine that was primarily purchased to manufacture aluminium die-cast toolboxes but also opened up revenue streams in the automotive and other industries.

The company has four other high-pressure die-cast machines, ranging from 280 to 700 tons. Together with the Bühler Evolution 84 state-of-the-art casting cell, these four machines are housed in a purpose built 1 100m² production hall. The castings that the company can produce have a mass range of between one and 7kgs.

“Our main challenge in this department, and the other manufacturing departments, is to overcome our machine failure problems, due to poor maintenance in the past,” explained Dow.

“We are happy to report that we are now on the positive side of curve and looking forward to uninterrupted production. Maintenance of equipment is crucial to the business’s success and the well-being of staff and clients.”

Automotive industry
“We are happy to be a supplier to first and second tier suppliers in the automotive industry, who then do final assembly. Currently we are manufacturing wiper holders and connectors for air conditioning systems for Smiths Manufacturing, alternator end caps for Robert Bosch and oil and fuel filter components for GUD Filters.”

Other industries
“We are also manufacturing fan blades and hubs for Luft Industries and electric lighting housings for Genlux Lighting.”

Screwdrivers, hand and garden tools
“For many years we have manufactured our own brand of garden tools – Reli-on. We will continue to do so. These tools are distributed through major industrials distributors and retail chains.”

“However, the other brand that we are well-known for – Wera screwdrivers – we will no longer be manufacturing under license. We have decided to launch our own brand of Schmidt screwdrivers and like the garden tools they will be distributed through major industrials distributors and retail chains.”

“Production of the new range is in progress and the screwdrivers will be introduced to the market during May 2020.”

Tool and die design
“We have a fully operational toolroom and offer tool and die design and have formed a partnership with Lesch Tool and Die for tool manufacturing. We have been complimented by the international partners of our customer for the innovative mould design for the long-term contracts that we have in the automotive industry.”

Aluminium toolboxes
“We have been particularly successful with our aluminium toolboxes since we launched them. Casting a toolbox of 2mm wall thickness is as a result of our innovative thinking and design capabilities. The overall result is a Toolbox, the only one of its kind in the world that is lighter and stronger than any other conventional toolbox. Lately we have had a number of encouraging large orders from international clients and we are now able to brand the boxes with individual company logos or brands. This is also a benefit to many who are looking to use them for promotional aspects. Our capacity for these is 2 000 boxes per month.”

“Essentially nothing has changed at Schmidt Industries in terms of the manufacturing capabilities since the new owners took control. However, there has been a big change in company culture, management objectives and output goals. We have attended to and improved the utilisation of one of our main assets – equipment – and will continue to do so.”

“We are now looking at export markets, which we have not done so before, and will also be looking to fill the excess die-casting capacity with non-automotive components,” explained Dow.

For further details contact Schmidt Industries on TEL: 031 702 9321