The Group subsidiary BENZ Tooling is located in a Black Forest valley. The specialist for tooling systems and machine technology supplies future-oriented industries in Germany and abroad. Now, this hidden champion is opening up new sales areas.
A river meanders through the valley, there are farms on the slopes, and the old town features a church, a town hall, and old half-timbered houses. At first glance, Haslach im Kinzigtal looks like the cliché of a rural Black Forest idyll.
But the picturesque setting should not hide the fact that the town is located in a flourishing industrial region. With world-renowned companies. And hidden world market leaders. Among them is BENZ — a subsidiary of the Dürr Group, specializing in precise tooling systems and machine technology. Angle heads, motor spindles, and rotary distributors are some of the products that are shipped from Haslach to customers all over the world. The combination of local ties and modern technology is part of BENZ’s identity, according to Managing Director Martin Schreiber. “Regionally rooted, internationally successful” is how he describes the company’s credo.
Schreiber is a manager with international experience, who worked in Asia for a long time. At BENZ, he appreciates the special atmosphere in everyday working life. “I am fascinated by the company’s technologies, the ingenuity, and commitment of the people here,” says the 55-year-old.
During the tour with Schreiber, visitors also get a sense of the family atmosphere. He keeps stopping, shaking hands, and knows the first names of his employees. In turn, they address their boss as “Martin”. Schreiber greets Katharina, a young colleague who is assembling a motor spindle for woodworking. A rather complicated aggregate consisting of a drive, sensors, many cables, and precise mechanics. Once the spindle is finished, it can very efficiently perform various drilling processes and create recesses. Customers use them, for example, in machines for the production of fitted kitchens.
We are regionally rooted and internationally successful.
Martin Schreiber, Managing Director BENZ
BENZ manufactures various machining units for industrial customers according to their needs. In many cases, the requirements are so special that other manufacturers have to pass. BENZ, however, specializes precisely in such cases.
To explain what kind of challenges the experts must overcome here, Schreiber uses the model of an aluminum case that normally encloses the battery of an e-car. The manufacturer has designed it in such a way that holes for screws or pins are located even in places that cannot be reached without special tools. “In such cases, for example, we design a unit that can be used mechanically to drill 'around the corner',” Schreiber explains.
The demands placed on the precision of the tools are enormous. Sometimes it comes down to a thousandth of a millimeter. Seals in vehicles, for example, must be one hundred percent tight. That’s why a major Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer is among the companies that rely on the precision specialist from the Black Forest. “Even though the new electric drives eliminate processing tasks in combustion technology, they do offer the potential for new tasks as well. That is partly a blessing for us, depending on how you approach the matter,” Schreiber says optimistically in view of the changes in the automotive industry.
In addition to the automotive and woodworking industries, medical technology, aviation, and wind power are among the promising industries whose companies rely on BENZ products. BENZ assemblies can be found in machining centers of carpentry workshops and in fully automatic production lines. Sometimes, the company receives very unusual orders, for example from the energy industry, where customers manufacture key components using BENZ technology. Schreiber reports about a power plant engineering company that had to manufacture a turbine as tall as a house for millions of euros. For a crucial drilling job, BENZ developed and produced a customized large drill head.
Customized products are part of the company’s DNA. When Xaver Benz founded the company in 1946, he initially repaired agricultural equipment in the stables belonging to a restaurant. However, he soon focused on parts production based on drawings. In the period of the German economic miracle, adjusting and clamping sleeves were produced. In the 1980s, the company boomed with the production of angle and large drill heads. Later, the range was expanded to include technologies combining mechanics and digital electronics, such as aggregates offering automatic tool change. In a single production step, these can be used to carry out various jobs at lightning speed. The workpiece is only clamped once, which saves time.
Manufacturing such digitally controllable assemblies requires experience and concentration. “For this, we need talented experts who enjoy working things out and implementing them,” says Schreiber. BENZ makes every effort to find talented young people and trains them to become skilled workers. Almost one tenth of the staff are apprentices. Ivo Reinberger monitors their selection. More than ten years ago, he himself was an apprentice at BENZ; now, he is responsible for industrial training. Reinberger also organizes collaborations with schools. Every Tuesday, a class comes to the company to have lessons in technology. Some of those students are later hired as apprentices. “The shortage of skilled workers is not yet a big problem for us,” says the 32-year-old.
This is also because BENZ promotes cohesion among the workforce. For example: Those who have landed an apprenticeship are invited to a company tour followed by a barbecue dinner — and they may bring their parents along, too. “The atmosphere in the company is very friendly. Many employees also know each other privately, which creates trust,” confirms Jasmin Eble, who grew up ten kilometers away. She recently completed her apprenticeship as an industrial clerk and now works in marketing.
Melanie Neumann feels similarly about the atmosphere. The trained industrial mechanic works in the assembly department. For her, too, BENZ is a big family. Her brother is a working student and her father also works here. “He used to take me to the company a lot when I was a kid. That’s why I knew what to expect from the apprenticeship.”
There is plenty to do for the 300 employees. Business in Asia is growing, order numbers are increasing, and sales are around 60 million euros. For CEO Schreiber, success is also a challenge. “Strictly speaking, our capacities are only sufficient for 50 million euros of sales.” The workshops and offices are correspondingly packed.
For this reason, BENZ is building new company headquarters in Gengenbach, a 20-minute drive away, with production and assembly facilities that will allow for further growth. “We want to create an attractive and contemporary work environment,” says Schreiber. Employees are closely involved in the planning of the new location. Since many people in the administrative area work partly from home, there will be freely available workstations based on the desk-sharing principle. Individual offices will also be a thing of the past.
The flexible working environment saves space, energy and money. Obviously, he won’t have a fixed workstation either, Schreiber says. “I don’t want to retreat to an office that I have all to myself.” He thinks that a manager must always be exactly where he is needed. That is true all over the world — including in the Black Forest.
BENZ Tooling is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of tooling systems and machine technology for machining metal, wood, and composite materials. With a great deal of experience, precision, and flexibility, the internationally operating company develops high-quality solutions tailored precisely to its customers’ requirements.
sales in 2022