The ‘Mittelstand’ success story 21 November 2019

By Dr Axel Hunsche, managing director at TesT GmbH

Strategically positioned at the heart of Europe, Germany is the fourth largest economy in the world – with machinery as one of its strongest exporting sectors, setting quality standards globally. Of course, companies like TesT benefit from this stellar reputation for German engineering.

This reputation is well founded in the German tradition of excellent education and a high appreciation and commitment for precise and efficient work. This self conception creates a highly motivating business environment, in which innovation and progress are the driving forces, challenging the industry to meet international expectations.

Another unique factor for German businesses is the so-called German ‘Mittelstand’ – the famous small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) – that build the strong foundation of Germany’s economic success. As an SME ourselves, TesT GmbH notices the advantages of being a small family-owned and led company every day.

Our size and structure enable us to match various customer requests on an international level, including custom-made solutions for special requirement orders, by acting in a more immediate and flexible manner than bigger companies. On the other hand, family businesses represent commitment and reliability. They are in the special position of being able to commit wholeheartedly to long-term goals, being more independent of investors than large corporations. We can give business time to develop so as to form strong and long-lasting partnerships.

This kind of fast operating on the micro level and patience on the macro level is a key factor for the ‘Mittelstand’ success story. The German measuring and testing technology sector in particular is characterised by small and medium-sized companies. They represent the world leaders of several niche markets, carrying almost one third of the worldwide trade volume of the industry, which was €3.7 billion in 2018. Also, the large variety of client industries give the measuring and testing technology a clear advantage in opportunities for economic growth.

Knowing that the only constant of our time is change – addressing keywords like digitalisation or culture shift – the hidden champions of the German SMEs find themselves in pole position for transitioning successfully into an everchanging future. Looking at the fastener market, we are, for instance, expecting changes in the technical field of renewable energies and electromobility. New cars and mobility concepts will bring new construction challenges with different fastener applications than conventionally used before.

With its energy system transformation, the so-called ‘Energiewende’, Germany is one of the leading countries in the world to establish a more sustainable energy supply. Facing the urgent challenges of climate change, there is not enough that can be done to promote the necessary transformation. This puts a lot of pressure especially on the industrial sector.

In this serious situation it is our duty to seize the opportunities that come with new technologies, both in their advancing implementation and distribution. For instance, the incorporation of renewables into the existing power grid includes the expansion of wind farms. Wind turbines require the installation of enormous, specific bolts, which obviously need to be quality tested in specially constructed machines. As the world’s first and only manufacturer, TesT develops screw testing machines for sizes up to M80, which is even bigger than the largest screws used in the ground fixing of wind turbines. With our mindset of challenging the status quo, we are equipped for the technologies of the future.

Content Director

Will Lowry Content Director t: +44 (0) 1727 743 888


Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 15 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.

Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the Magazine is renowned.