Skip to main content
Our success story
It was back in 1924 that we laid the groundwork for our extraordinary success story in the German town of Minden. Fast-forward to today and we are now one of the most highly renowned suppliers of high-quality spare parts. In 2022, we were able to increase our turnover to over €125 million through our sales activities in Germany and in another 70 countries. This is an achievement we owe to our customers, suppliers and – above all – our dedicated team of over 400 employees.

100 years Schäferbarthold – A century of wholesale of automotive parts


At the beginning of the 20th century, cars were still a rare sight on the roads. Repairs were still being carried out by blacksmiths,
and the chances of finding a workshop specialising in cars were slim to none. So when the blacksmiths started having issues with sourcing Bowden cables for their repairs,
Wilhelm Schäferbarthold seized his opportunity. On 1 April 1924, he founded the company ‘Wilhelm Schäferbarthold’ and set out to specialise in this field, with his own kitchen and
bedroom at Königstrasse 84 serving as his business premises. Together with his son Hermann and wife Anna-Louise, he quickly expanded the product range.

The first catalogue issued in 1925 contained 16 pages; by 1926, it had grown to 96. In 1927, the company built a commercialpremises at Frankenring 20 in Minden.
Despite ongoing constraints in terms of space, Wilhelm succeeded in expanding the company further.
By 1939, the catalogue comprised 493 pages and the company employed 72 people who shipped products not just throughout Germany, but also increasingly abroad.

Second World War

In 1942, Hermann Schäferbarthold took over the management of the company. Exempt from military service due to a childhood injury,
he ensured that the company remained operational despite the personnel shortages arising from conscriptions.
He was a strong believer in the methods of the REFA working group and improved the working environment for the staff by providing a break room,
a library and company sports. He was also guided by the concepts of the National Socialist organisation ‘Strength through Joy’.
Although he gravitated towards the ideology of National Socialism, he was never overly convinced, as evidenced by the fact that his eldest son was confirmed in
the evangelical St Peter’s Church in 1943. In the denazification process, he was categorised as ‘politically neutral, very religious and only a nominal member.

In April 1943, the Reich Ministry of Armaments and Ammunition issued regulations to avoid supply bottlenecks during the Second World War.
Motor vehicle spare parts could only be traded by selected dealers who had not suffered any war damage.
Schäferbarthold was picked out as one of these fortunate distribution centres, but only experienced a temporary increase in profits.

Post-war period

For Schäferbarthold, things could have picked up quickly after the war, as it had been spared from bombing raids. Nevertheless,
this ultimately proved to be a disadvantage, as the building was evicted in February 1946 and confiscated by the British occupying forces for over ten years.
The company had to find temporary accommodation in various places, including the André cigar factory in Südhemmern.
This prompted Hermann to ramp up the company’s export business, which did not rely on warehousing.
The export department founded in 1952 was already serving all continents as early as 1960. Fast-forward to 1964 and exports accounted
for 64 per cent of turnover with the company distributing to 68 countries. By 1968, this figure had grown to 91 countries.
The shortage of space led Hermann to deliberately reduce the variety of products on offer. Instead, he focused on developing new products,
notably accessories, which he marketed under the ‘Propeller’ brand.
These included headlights, seat covers, vases for the dashboard, first-aid kits, wing mirrors and plenty more besides.
Hermann was even granted a patent for paint dirt traps that could be fitted without drilling.

Hermann’s last years

In the mid-1950s, Hermann’s eldest son Winfried joined the familybusiness, but left in 1962 due to repeated disagreements with his father.
His younger son Volker took over as successor in 1966 and things turned out quite differently. As Hermann grew oldersome of his idiosyncrasies became so extreme
that they had a negative impact. His sense of order and his interest in REFA had structured everyday working life well during the war,
but now led to excessive bureaucracy and an exaggerated system of forms. What’s more, his passion for quality and the Propeller brand led
him to produce expensive packaging material without taking into account the company’s declining revenues. Hermann also struggled to acknowledge the efforts made by others,
which led to massive staff turnover. Eventually, Hermann gave in to repeated requests by Winfried and Volker, senior employees, and bank representatives, and the indebted company
was transferred to his two sons.

The third generation

The brothers Winfried and Volker ran the company on Minden’s Ringstrasse together from 1972. Winfried took over the commercial management, while Volker expanded
the sales department. Employees were encouraged to work more independently and contribute their ideas, which led to a new corporate culture. A strict cost-cutting
policy was introduced to make the company profitable again, and Winfried put a stop to any unprofitable products and product areas.
Just two years after the takeover by the third generation, the company was profitable again, although not yet debt-free.
The company’s growth required additional buildings at the Ringstrasse facility, but the site was soon fit to burst.
This led to the gradual move to the current location in Erbeweg in Porta Westfalica-Barkhausen in 1978, with the administration office following in 1982.

Development of the core business

In the 1980s and 90s, Schäferbarthold limited its product portfolio to focus on niche products.
It also developed parts that were unique on the market, including armrest consoles for the Mercedes W 123 and W 124 series, which were distributed exclusively by Schäferbarthold
and sold well.
The company even had rally stripes and other parts manufactured by external suppliers, but the revenue from accessory sales decreased as cars became betterequipped.
In 1984, a lengthy legal dispute was settled as to whether garages were only allowed to purchase original parts from the manufacturer.
Schäferbarthold then increased its trade in original spare parts and adapted its service to the needs of the workshops, which led to strong long-term customer relationships.

European market

Dr Volker Schäferbarthold worked hard to build up the company’s national and international sales. In the 1980s, he founded ‘Schäferbarthold of North America, Inc.’
in Torrance, Los Angeles, as a subsidiary for the US and Canadian markets. Scandinavia, particularly Denmark and Sweden, was an important export region in Europe, as were Austria, England,
Belgium, Italy and, above all, France. The creation of the European Single Market in the 1990s served to boost sales across Europe further still.
The standardisation of country-specific working methods led to increased demands for international quality standards. And so, in 1994, Schäferbarthold became the first
motor vehicle parts and accessories wholesaler in Germany and the second company in the East Westphalia Chamber of Industry and Commerce to receive DIN ISO 9002/EN 29002 certification for quality management.

The transition to the fourth generation

Following the unexpected death of Winfried Schäferbarthold, Volker’s sons Wolfgang and Christian, aged just 32 and 30 respectively, became involved in the management of the company earlier than expected in 1999. The initial arrangement was for the set-up to function as a three-man team with Volker, and this went on to become a dual leadership between the brothers from 2005. Unlike the transition in 1972, this one was entirely plain sailing.
Wolfgang took over responsibility for auditing and processing invoices as well as personnel development, while Christian initially took care of IT and logistics.

New logistics centre

The logistics side of the business was crying out for an upgrade, and so the old system of organising the warehouse by article number eventually gave way to dynamic
warehousing with the help of intensive IT support. New warehouses with highshelving were needed to save space and replace the older lightweight warehouses.
This modernisation was a major project for Dr Christian Schäferbarthold: the construction costs were estimated at around 15 million Deutschmarks,
with the company’s annual turnover standing at around 60 million. Some department heads pushed for keeping lightweight halls for cost reasons, but Christian and logistics manager Olaf Marin were convinced of the need for change. The project was planned and fi nanced in two phases, including the use of a modern warehouse management system.
The new logistics centre, which was completed in 2007, cost a total of 7 million euros and serves customers in 70 countries, 15 per cent of which outside Europe. It originally stocked 15,000 items for over 40 vehicle brands, with 97 per cent of the daily order items processed within 24 hours.
A public road, which was named after the tradebrand ‘Caripar’, facilitated the connection between the sites.
Following an extension in 2018, the four halls now span an area of over 22,000 m2.

Further modernisations included the introduction of an online shop in 2005 and the redesign of the shop in 2012.
Schäferbarthold has also developed special brands such as Caripar, OE-Fit and OE-Cult to handle specific customer needs.


The value of the workforce

Wolfgang and Christian Schäferbarthold continue the values of their father and uncle by emphasising the importance of the workforce.
In addition to offering fi nancial incentives, the company is ideally positioned to take a personal approach to any employee concerns thanks to its family structure.
There is always a strong focus on intensive knowledge transfer, with employees working with their successors for up to two years in order to combine
experience with fresh ideas. Schäferbarthold has a long tradition of offering vocational training, with programmes for wholesale and foreign trade management assistants, warehouse logistics specialists and e-commerce staff. It is also one of the few training companies to offer practical foreign trade expertise. Schäferbarthold provides
examiners for the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) and also makes its premises available for examinations.
Many of the current employees started their careers as apprentices with the company and have never looked back.

A look into the future

For a century now, Schäferbarthold has asserted its strong market presence by embracing fl exibility and innovation. But the biggest change is yet to come: electromobility. Forecasts show that part of the company’s core segment comprising vehicles up to four years old will be phased out for combustion vehicles by 2039.
Nevertheless, the company is confi - dent in the future and has plenty of ideas for further healthy growth.

The fifth generation, 

represented by Dr Christian Schäferbarthold’s sons Paul, Justus and Henri, will have to deal with this market situation going forward. Wolfgang has already transferred all of his shares – and Christian part of his – to Christian’s children to ensure a smooth transition. This is a sign to the workforce that the owner family will continue to work together and
that the company at Erbeweg in Porta Westfalica is ready for the future.


Company founded in Minden

Relocation to Porta Westfalica

Warehouse extension

Initial certification

New administration building

Aerial view of the company premises

Expansion of logistics facility

Expansion of specialist trade, launch of new corporate identity

Expansion of logistics facility

50 representatives in Europe, worldwide customer network