Looking back on 100 years with pride

This is a year to celebrate for Original LÖWE in Flintbek. One hundred years ago, Walther Schröder invented the first Original LÖWE anvil pruners. Before the move to Flintbek in 2019, production was carried out on Kiel’s Ostufer. Today, the third-generation family business is managed by his grandson Randolph Schröder. To celebrate the anniversary year, Schröder and his team will be joined by partners from all over the world in Flintbek. We spoke to him about tradition and innovation, the change in corporate culture and the current challenges.

He was ten years old when he drew his first Original LÖWE pruners. Precise. True to detail. With the logo, anvil and spring in the right place. For him, one thing was clear: ‘One day, I’ll be running the company. I didn’t really think about what that meant. Only the function was clear.’ He has been with the company since 1998 – initially as an operations and technical sales manager in one. Back then, the company had 12 employees; today there are 58. Father and son managed the company ‘wonderfully’ together for 10 years. Each had their own area of responsibility and duties. Over time, more tasks were transferred from father to son. Schröder senior left the company in 2008.  

Randolph Schröder, Geschäftsführer von Loewe Scheren mit großer Schere

Manufacturing pruners? It’s a family tradition! 

In 1923, Walther Schröder developed the first Original LÖWE anvil pruners: the Original LÖWE 1. The innovation involves a drawing cut against a fixed support and has been the original LÖWE cutting principle ever since. Even after 100 years, this cutting principle with pruners remains unique. The Original LÖWE pruners were technically superior to the conventional two-half forged variants and cut easier, also due to their lower weight. Even in the earliest models, all parts were removable – and this remains the case today. The blade, the anvil, the spring and the bearing could and can still be replaced if necessary. These spare parts are even available for 100-year-old Original LÖWE pruners. ‘This made us a pioneer in sustainability 100 years ago,’ explains Schröder proudly. ‘We attach great importance to the optimal suitability for use and the durability of all models. All products are subject to continuous optimisation and improvement.’ 

A sustainable global market leader for 100 years   

‘Fifty years are nothing for our pruners; they don’t have an end of life,’ says Schröder. Sustainability is therefore at the heart of the business, the product and the manufacturing process right from the start. Once 70-year-old pruners get a new blade, they can make clean cuts again. As a result, Original LÖWE became a global market leader in quality – and remains so today. Another mainstay of Original LÖWE is the production of bypass pruners, which are ideally suited to cutting in hard-to-reach areas. Whether anvil or bypass, Original LÖWE pruners are constantly being further developed and adapted to the needs of customers, new users and target groups. And new markets are also being opened up, even in regions with different climatic conditions to those in Schleswig-Holstein. To date, the company sells pruners in more than 80 countries, including those in Southern Europe, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the USA. Asia and South Africa are also showing great potential for development. First there were pruners for professional viticulture, orchards and horticulture, later came industrial shears such as cable duct shears and sealing profile shears. At Original LÖWE, it’s all about cutting instead of sawing. ‘Sustainability matters to us,’ says the managing director. For Schröder, sustainability also means operating sustainably in order to survive crises, grow and, above all, offer employees long-term prospects and security. This is also part of the company’s DNA and a matter of course. 

First the perfect technology, then sales 

Walther Schröder, the grandfather, is the one to whom the company owes this sophisticated innovation. The inventor’s grandson Randolph Schröder is also technically adept. At the age of 20, he restored a classic car. ‘It worked – it was drivable afterwards.’ Motivated by this project, Schröder studied mechanical engineering and honed his technical skills. While his father was a businessman through and through, he wanted to be different, because he believes understanding the technology is essential for running a technical company. As with restoring a classic car, this appears to be working well for Randolph Schröder in the company. His sharp eye and attention to every detail are particularly appreciated by the employees in production. He is nobody’s fool – not that anyone would try pulling a fast one on him. His experience and the expertise of his colleagues complement each other, resulting in the high-quality Original LÖWE pruners – created in a team where everyone works with one another on an equal footing.

Under Schröder’s leadership, production was completely revised. Time and again, digitalisation has had an active part over the past 30 years, especially in production. But the company is certain of one thing: digitalisation or the use of AI won’t replace holding, observing and listening to the finished pruners to check whether they meet the grade. The human touch plays the starring role. 

Responsibility means participating in success

In Schröder’s view, having technical expertise and knowledge of all processes is just one aspect of making the company easier to run. It is much more important to interact as equals. ‘I joined the company when I was almost 30 years old, the only one from university. They said: here comes the son, he doesn’t necessarily know how things work. A typical student,’ recalls Schröder. ‘I had to learn to prove myself and assert my ideas, but I also learnt a great deal from our employees, especially in the early days – and I still do.’ Schröder learns from his team, listens and motivates employees to develop and pass on their skills – empowering them to lead themselves. At Original LÖWE, we have taken precisely this path, created new structures, brought in new management levels and given employees responsibility for their areas in which they have expertise. ‘It’s no longer someone at the top telling everyone what to do.’ Instead, responsibility means sharing in success, and measurable objectives are defined together. ‘Success is now measured by what I do and what I contribute as a person.’ 

Das Firmengebäude von Loewe Scheren mit dem markanten Logo
Blick in die Produktionshalle mit Maschinen und Fachkräften bei Loewe Scheren
Eine Original Loewe Schere im Einsatz beim Baumbeschnitt
Robotergestützte Fertigung bei Loewe Scheren
Geschäftsführer Randolph Schröder von Loewe Scheren mit Schere in Obstgarten

From attentive to inclusive culture

The attentive management culture practised at Original LÖWE has not gone away. On the contrary: the focus is on people. In addition, there are now further management levels, shared responsibility, measurable performance and greater participation in the company’s success. A cultural change is currently taking place here, and everyone at the Flintbek production facility is pulling together. This also includes establishing a culture of failure and growing in response to challenges at all levels. At Original LÖWE, it is clear that everyone is united by their identification with the product. If you ask around the company, you quickly find out that everyone thinks Original LÖWE pruners are a fantastic product. And it is also clear how important this identification is for the product. What’s behind it all? Perhaps this is a leitmotif that Randolph Schröder has developed, particularly from the experiences of his early days at the company. ‘The truth is that employees get up early every morning, drive to work in all weather conditions and assemble pruners to make the company a success. They put a lot of effort in. And that’s why I really want everyone to be happy.’ Original LÖWE is home to modern workstations and bright rooms with equipment and proper ventilation. Above all, it is a place where good human interaction among employees is an integral part of the corporate culture. Sounds good, doesn’t it? And that’s not just empty words. To date, the global market leader has never suffered from a lack of skilled workers, as word gets around that Original LÖWE is ‘a good place to work’. This should stay that way for the next 100 years. All employees will play their part in this. We continue to develop together. For another 100 years of Original LÖWE pruners.  

Gebrüder Schröder GmbH

  • Location: Flintbek
  • Employees: 58 and 80 from the Stiftung Drachensee
  • Founded: 1686 as P. Nicolaisen Jun. Maschinenfabrik
  • Industry: Cutlery
  • Services: Prodution of cutting tools
  • More information: www.original-loewe.de/

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