An automotive craftsman and an automotive engineer, both around 30 years old and in employment which was interesting yet didn’t offer them enough opportunities to implement their own ideas. Why shouldn’t they design and build custom vehicles themselves?
At the beginning of 1997 Bernd Bischoff and Volker Scheck started discussing their own business model and quickly got over the first hurdle – they were able to persuade a banker to provide them with the finance they needed. An accountant and tax advisor was
also found to establish the required business structure.
Even before the decisions had been finalized about the structure of the business and the articles of association, they had both already found business premises and signed a five-year lease. The accountant, who was still working on the establishment of
the business, was shocked, especially as the first, promised offer of finance had collapsed. What were they supposed to do now?
What is an entrepreneur, however? It’s someone who is enterprising, not someone who lets others do the work. That sort of person, the doubting Thomas’s of this world, will never celebrate a company’s anniversary. It is not by chance that tax law describes an entrepreneur as someone who shows initiative and takes risks. For the author of these words, who has accompanied Bernd Bischoff and Volker Scheck from the very beginning, even if their impulsiveness has given me some grey hairs and caused me to lose a few, they both epitomize what is meant by an entrepreneur. This is true in any situation, whether it be in the establishment of the
company, investment in growth, financing or new business areas, whether it involves decisions about staff or locations.
The idea has always been to have a gut feeling about the right decision as well as the courage to implement it; they both have this and it means they are able to inspire their partner – in any area – about their current project.
Initially, the newly established company made corporate vehicles, small promotional vehicles and horse transporters, which Bernd Bischoff and Volker Scheck, together with two employees, built in a hangar in Hügelsheim which was actually far too big for them.
Two years later there were some disagreements between the neighbors and the employees, who now numbered 15, because production didn’t just work normal hours on normal working days, but also needed to work overtime on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays, some of which was done outside because the hangar was now too small. As there was not sufficient space anywhere in Hügelsheim for a new building they moved to Baden Airpark.
The two entrepreneurs were able to persuade the Raiffeisenbank Iffezheim, who had been attracted by the business and had financed its establishment, of the potential of the Airpark’s building projects. In the meantime horse transporters had become less
attractive; radio broadcasting trucks were seen to be the revenue generators of the future. The number of staff, and therefore the production output, would quickly be doubled at the new location. However, due to declining investment in radio equipment and staffing issues at the location – there was a lack of interested and qualified technical staff – both entrepreneurs quickly ditched the plan. They soon found new applications for other custom-made products: a hospitality center for the Mercedes DTM team and transporters for racing teams took the place of the broadcasting trucks, and there was increasing demand for promotional vehicles for trade fairs. It
still remained difficult to find staff, however.
To solve this problem the pair initially considered opening a branch in one of the new German states, where they should be plenty of sufficiently qualified technical staff. In the end, though, they decided on Rheinmünster and set about expanding their staff with temporary employees. Even if this choice seemed tough and problematic at the time, from today’s perspective it was the right
one: the company now has 51 production staff – double the number that started at the Airpark. The signs are positive as regards future staff too; there are currently nine interns being trained in different professions.
Back to production: Every vehicle that is produced at Bischoff + Scheck is a “one-off”, unique, developed from the very start according to the customer’s needs and in conjunction with them, from the initial concept through to its delivery ready for use. The DTM
hospitality center for Mercedes-Benz was the first large project and four years later they produced the mobile exhaust center for Volkswagen. Since then the orders have only got larger: In 2005 the BMW order for the Formula 1 team’s hospitality center was almost not feasible, not because of the design but because of a lack of staff, space and time. One year later they got the McLaren
Formula 1 order, which was three times the size. In the summer of 2007, despite any concerns, this hospitality center had its baptism of fire at Silverstone. Since then it, as well as BMW’s hospitality center, is always assembled and disassembled by Bischoff + Scheck.
As was the case in 1999 when production had to spill outside in order to complete the orders, with resulting problems, so it was with the BMW order in 2005/2006, because the extension to the hangar could not yet be used for production. Once the 2006
Formula 1 season had finished the overhaul of the BMW centre as well as some of the production for McLaren was moved to the new hangar – yet still had to spill outside. Currently, planning permission has just been obtained for an additional
hangar, which will contain standard production as well as new, additional services (e.g. vehicle painting) that previously had to be done outside.
All the signs point to further expansion. Broadcasting trucks are now increasingly requested again. A prototype of a high-end expedition vehicle is available for purchase or hire. International customers enquire about horse transporters for the overseas market. The presence in national and foreign markets is proof of the company’s considerable success; there is no company in the whole of Europe that offers such a wide product range as Bischoff + Scheck. Customers come from all of Europe’s key markets.
Entrepreneurs cannot do everything themselves. It is only when supported by company staff, as well as by their family, that a company can grow and be successful. As both wives of the entrepreneurs were initially at home and have for the last few years worked
in the company, thus freeing up more of their spouses’ time, the latter have been able to focus on their task of running the company. The production team has a core of long-serving employees and ensures that any orders are carried out with their usual reliability and quality.
Reliable suppliers and satisfied customers complete the circle. On the occasion of their company anniversary therefore, a successful company team is not just proud to show off their products and services but also wants to celebrate with and thank their
employees, suppliers and customers.
The united, high-performance German team at Baden Airpark will continue to set standards across Europe and the world in creativity, quality and diligence, serving customers’ needs every day.