Jürgen Stehr is an entrepreneur through and through. Solid and pragmatic, but a visionary at the same time. One would tend to say that he is an old-school entrepreneur, were it not for the enormous innovative power, which covers the grounds of the Stehr Spezialmaschinen company in Schwalmtal-Storndorf. “Those who do not want to change things for the future will lose what they want to keep.” That is his motto. The history of the Stehr company almost sounds like a fairy tale.
Jürgen Stehr’s success story starts in the year 1983 in a small garage in Schwalmtal-Storndorf near Alsfeld in Upper Hesse. Here the agricultural machinery mechanic already started working on his implements for road construction and civil engineering work. It was not until 1989, however, that his enormous inventiveness resulted in the first implement, a plate compactor for road construction. “In the mid-90’s, we started to develop implements for tractors,” explained the 66-year-old, who has been around construction machinery all of his life. After his training, the meticulous entrepreneur first left Hesse to go out into the wide world. “When I was 18 years old, I first wanted to get out into the world, everything here was too small for me,” says Stehr with a calm, resounding voice. So young Stehr set out to explore Africa and the Arabic world. Then he worked for the construction machinery company Liebherr in all countries of the world, until he came back to Upper Hesse in the 1980’s, where he has remained until today. The reason behind Stehr’s success lies at hand. “Our aim from the very beginning was to listen to customers and to find individual solutions for their problems,” says the enthusiastic hobby rally driver.
A long list totalling 61 patents shows that his visions are not just crazy ideas. When you sit across from the down-to-earth managing director, you quickly have the impression that everything that he does makes sense. At Fendt, the strategy has also always been to listen to customers and to offer them products tailored to their needs. Stehr, who bought his first Fendt 824 at the beginning of the 1990’s, was immediately enthusiastic about the performance capabilities of the green tractors from Marktoberdorf – even though they did not have a continuously variable transmission at that time. “Fendt was the first manufacturer to bring the sensational Vario transmission onto the market a bit later, and that is exactly what you need on a construction site,” he raves. The other advantages for him are clearly the high PTO power, since his implements are driven by the PTO, and also the excellent service provided by Fendt in Germany. Stehr, however, is a pragmatist. “I honestly have to say that the different tractor manufacturers have moved closer together in terms of quality and performance. There aren’t any really bad tractors nowadays,” his smiles. However, he still finds that the tractors from the Fendt brand and his implements fit together perfectly. Just like Fendt with its revolutionary continuously variable transmission, Jürgen Stehr is also a true pioneer with his specialty machines. The milling cutters and soil stabilisation machinery from the Vogelberg district are also in operation on construction sites in foreign countries. “Ninety percent of roads around the world are unpaved,” explains the visionary inventor, who now sells his machines to Australia, India and the African continent.
Stehr also runs a restaurant on his company grounds. Without much ado, Stehr turned a historical barn that was to be torn down into the pub “Ideenschmiede” (idea forge). He receives customers and holds training sessions in his own pub. He even already has a pop song for his “Ideenschmiede”. During the talk with the managing director, a flat bed truck drives up with a transport trailer for his specialty machines, which can be lowered completely so that both sides can be loaded without having to use ramps and can carry a load of up to 10 tonnes. Also his own creation. Another innovation from Stehr is the new soil stabiliser model SBF 24-8 for dust-free soil stabilisation. It was just recently used for construction at the Porsche production facilities in Leipzig. The rotor can be adjusted to a depth of 50 centimetres to work the binding agent into the ground.