By Sarah Peiper
In 1984, Helmut Rosskopf founded Helmut Rosskopf Construction and Furniture Joinery. Located near Frankfurt, Germany, he worked with borrowed machines in an old barn. Since the company’s expansion to the German states of Thuringia and Saxony, it has changed considerably, not only in its location but also in terms of scope. What started as a millwork company has become well-known for fabricating all kinds of materials, including solid surface, quartz, sintered stone and natural stone for high-end kitchen countertops, custom commercial casework and architectural installations for a variety of applications. Today, Rosskopf + Partner is well past its early days in the barn working with borrowed machines. Offering a complete range of services, including engineering, product development, fabrication and installation, the company’s customer base extends from Germany throughout Europe to Africa and North America.
The Next Generation of Leadership
In 2021, Helmut Rosskopf moved to the supervisory board as chairman and handed his responsibilities to Christin Bergmann and Oliver Schleich, two experienced company employees who hold leadership positions on the board of directors. Meanwhile, the Hoffnungsträger Foundation acquired ownership by purchasing stock from Helmut. “The newly established cooperation with the Hoffnungsträger Stiftung is an important step toward a promising future,” said Rosskopf. “The Foundation is not only an economically strong partner but also deeply committed to involvement in humanitarian causes.” This transitioned the midrange company to the next generation. Today, the company employs 200 people at locations in Obermehler in Thuringia and Augustusburg in Saxony.
Oliver Schleich is optimistic about the future. “During the coming years, I envision Rosskopf + Partner will continue on a growth trajectory,” he said. “With tried-and-true manufacturing processes, we are developing from a classic handcraft business into a contemporary, architecture-influenced industrial enterprise. We intend to continue to offer our partners and customers smart, reliable solutions while improving and iterating our processes and products at the same time.”
The company works with two types of material: On one side, they focus on solid surface, while the other handles hard materials like quartz, sintered and natural stone. In addition, they remain flexible in adopting new materials for different applications and unique design elements. For example, recently, they started working with Universal Performance Board (UPB) made from Resysta, a natural fiber compound that comes from rice husks. This sustainable material is 100% waterproof and lightweight, and it does not splinter, crack or rot. It is resistant to chlorine and salt water; it’s thermoformable and has the natural look and feel of wood. “We use this material for our miru line, a series of modular design counters,” said Heike Findeisen, marketing team lead for Rosskopf + Partner. “It was awarded the German Design Award in February 2023, and we’re quite proud of this product. It is a testament to our strategy to process different materials and create premium product lines.”
The diverse material offerings enable Rosskopf + Partner to create exceptional designs. As specialists in material combinations, they stand out from the competition. The company’s expertise and proven track record of creating functional and fascinating designs have positioned them as a leader in the industry. “We gain a lot of momentum — relevance for our brand and increased awareness among our target customers — that helps us grow the business year after year,” said Oliver Schleich, CEO of the company. “Of course, fabricating a wide variety of materials requires different skills, resources and machines, but it helps us diversify the business and find revenue streams across multiple channels — more opportunities to learn, create and grow.”
In the Shop
Rising demand, digitalization and competitive pressure inspire Rosskopf + Partner to improve its processes, including investing in the company to ensure long-term viability. “We keep our finger on the pulse and strengthen our position as engineers, fabricators and experts of all surface materials,” said Schleich. “In our segments, it is imperative to keep our machinery efficient. In recent years we have invested in upgrading our machines at both sites.”
Last year, the company added a new Brembana Sprint bridge saw from CMS Steintechnik. The machine is around 60 feet long and has an automated table-changing system that enables Rosskopf + Partner to switch materials easily without a lot of downtime. The shop has several 5-axis CNCs from the HOMAG Group, including various waterjet saws and an edge grinder. Constant modernization helps to increase throughput and meet growing demand.
In addition to machinery, it’s essential for Rosskopf + Partner to drive forward the optimization of processes, and the team does this by constantly reviewing and adapting the production layout. Technology and software play a big part in this, so they’ve implemented appropriate planning CAD software, including Rhinoceros 3D, a commercial design tool for architecture, seCAD, which is used for worktop drawings, as well as seKON for nesting and cutting slabs. In addition to production optimization, they invested in fiber broadband expansion at their sites. They introduced Electronic Data Interchange to optimize the ordering process for customers who use configuration programs like CARAT, an often-used planning tool for kitchen design studios.
Going to Market
Rosskopf + Partner operates almost exclusively on a business-to-business model. They have a roster of partners, including architects, interior designers and contractors. “We pursue different approaches to the market,” explained Schleich. “In many cases, we directly work with providers like contractors, kitchen and bath studios, and builders. We also work directly with architects, interior designers and other project planners.” Another revenue stream is serving as an original equipment manufacturer, producing products like sinks for distribution through other companies.
In Rosskopf + Partner’s market, the interest in solid surface materials like HIMACS, Avonite and Corian is still high, especially for commercial applications like museums, hospitals, schools and other public spaces. Architects and designers choose it for its hygienic properties, durability and the complex designs that can be realized with the material. At the same time, the demand for sustainable materials is increasing everywhere. “Lately, there has been an elevated interest in mineral surfaces like sintered stone,” added Schleich. “Our customers are choosing a lot of Neolith and Dekton. And, of course, we have the advantage because we are accustomed to working with multiple materials. We can fabricate anything and combine multiple materials, and that’s because we’ve built up our expertise in processing the various materials over many years.”
Rosskopf + Partner sees itself as a fabricator of durable, high-quality and sustainable materials. In addition to surfaces and casework, they offer add-ons like basins, sinks, drain kits, lighting options and more — all of which add value to their services and strengthen their relationships with their customers. At the same time, their forward-thinking nature keeps the ideas flowing. “In addition to custom-made kitchen countertops, bathroom, interior and exterior architectural solutions, we look to create new stand-alone product lines, like the miru collection,” explained Findeisen. “Each reception desk solution in this collection has a solid surface body. Depending on the design series, solid surface can sometimes be combined with sustainable materials such as natural stone, sintered stone or UPB. Thanks to the modularity, these units can be expanded and adapted however the customer sees fit.”
Another Rosskopf + Partner innovation is a surface finishing technology called synergy3D. It combines the fabrication of solid surface material with the aesthetics of new surfaces, such as oak, concrete, brass, copper and more. synergy3D lends lightness and flexibility to otherwise rigid materials.
What sets Rosskopf + Partner apart from the competition is their intentionality. “Over the past 35 years, the pursuit of progress has allowed Rosskopf + Partner to mature from fledgling pioneer to a world-renowned specialist in the processing of the various materials — with dedication and passion,” recalls Findeisen. “We’ve worked with renowned architects such as Zaha Hadid and David Chipperfield. For example, the Hotel Puerta America in Madrid was a project that included unprecedented applications and required innovative solutions to realize them. The wishes of our customers are invariably our highest priority. Therefore, in terms of design and shape, breaking new ground with our material is essential to our DNA. That is the reason we are proud of our collaboration with M|R Walls to create beautiful 3D-carved walls and surfaces. We are always open to projects that need special solutions and innovative thinking. Recently we realized a huge interior façade for an internationally well-known fashion brand together with the famous design studio Aranda\Lasch from New York.”
For Rosskopf + Partner, staying connected with experts and peers across the industry is crucial. Schleich says that networking and exchanging ideas and information across the industry have always been a cornerstone of the company, both on regional and international levels. As a matter of fact, Rosskopf + Partner, represented by former board member Martin Funk, pushed for the founding of the International Solid Surface Fabricators Association in the mid-1990s, a group that later dropped the “Solid” from its name to encompass all manufactured materials and become the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) you know today.
Schleich understands the value of connecting with others to learn how to improve processes, implement technology, embrace design trends and more. “Our industry is fast-moving. There are always new requirements and challenges that we can only overcome if we all pull together and think outside the box.”
He added that being present and visible as a point of contact for customers and partners is imperative. “We use trade fairs and conferences to inform ourselves about new developments, establish contacts, coordinate joint events and meetings with partners, and exchange with and within associations such as ISFA. If you don’t stay connected, you might miss the next big idea or opportunity to grow your business.”
The Keys to Success
Rosskopf + Partner creates fascination. With creativity, experience and knowledge, the team develops individual solutions for architects, builders, private individuals — whomever the customer may be. In the end, Rosskopf + Partner attributes its success to the dedication of its employees. “Our treasure is the knowledge and experience of our staff,” said Christin Bergmann, CHRO of the company. The secret to their success is the many employees who have been with the company for a long time. In fact, more than 60 employees have been with Rosskopf + Partner for at least 15 years, some of them for more than 30 years. To retain and strengthen such a strong and experienced employee base, opportunities for professional advancement are very important to the company. For this purpose, Rosskopf + Partner has created an individual training concept to offer employees new perspectives in the company even after several years of service. This also includes regular staff appraisals to foster development. “We want to be an employer who inspires and motivates people to be as good as they can be because our employees make the difference,” concluded Bergmann.
What’s next for Rosskopf + Partner? The company intends to maintain its leading position in the market by remaining nimble, discovering new solutions and developing new products while staying ahead of trends. Given the company’s track record, there’s no doubt the Rosskopf + Partner team will continue to innovate their way to further success.
To learn more about Rosskopf + Partner, visit www.rosskopf-partner.com.