SME Power


Volkswagen, Bayer and Adidas are household names. But more than 95 percent of Europe’s largest economy is generated by lesser-known firms that aren’t listed on the blue-chip DAX Index. Meet the driver of Germany’s export economy: The Mittelstand

A letter from our editor

Kurt, Axel and Max Stürken

Family Firms

Leuchtturm Sees the Light

Leuchtturm could have stayed in its scrapbook-making comfort zone, but the owner’s sons chose to drag the company into the 21st century instead.

Private Equity

Finding Returns in the Mittelstand

Financial investors are having more luck buying into Germany's small- and mid-sized companies. That's because unwilling targets are starting to see the logic.

Mittelstand Financing

A Milestone for Crowdfunding

A hotel group set a new €2.5 million record in Germany’s crowdsourcing market for small and medium-sized businesses. If regulations were eased, the deals could be even bigger.

Industry 4.0

Four Mittelstand Firms That Get the Digital Economy

Who says Germany’s family-owned, medium-sized firms can’t keep up with the Internet of Things? These four businesses are embracing the future.

ottobock prosthetics


Changing the Guard at Leading Prosthetic Maker

For the first time in the company's history, CEO Hans Georg Näder is drafting an outsider into a leadership position at family-owned Ottobock.

Mittelstand Abroad

Sprinting for The Yellow Jersey in America

Canyon Bicycles is hoping to do in the U.S. what it did in Germany: Pull away from the competition.

Mittelstand and More

Warren Buffett on German Acquisitions: The Larger the Better

The Oracle of Omaha has long had his eye on Germany, but struggled to get a foot in the door. His latest comments to Handelsblatt suggest he hasn't given up yet.

Family-business IPOs

The Third Way

Germany's family-owned businesses are increasingly moving to part-family, part-public ownership to raise cash and improve governance without giving up control.


Pint-Sized but Powerful

Germany's legendary small and mid-sized companies invest better, are more productive and retain more profits than their exchange-listed brethren.


All Hands on Deck as Germany Nears Full Employment

Germany’s skill shortage hits rural, family-owned firms the hardest, forcing them into creative solutions.

Machine Design

Mr. Wow Effect

Jürgen Schmid is not your everyday industrial designer. He can make the most complex machine look deceptively simple.


Patent Pandemonium

Patents are the bread and butter of Germany's Mittelstand. Applicants are at the mercy of a broken and misguided institution, the European Patent Office.

Mittelstand: Skylotec

Saving Your Own Life

A world market leader in safety equipment thinks it has a way to help residents of high-rise buildings rescue themselves from fires in future.

Private equity

Hunting the Mittelstand

Armed with cash, US and UK private-equity firms are training their sights on Germany's profitable small and medium-sized companies. But the hunters risk shooting themselves in the foot.


The Sum of its Parts

You won't have heard the name, but most people rely on parts made by Schunk every day, whether hidden in cars, gadgets, tools or even airplanes. Meet the mid-size firm whose focus on niche markets keeps Germany moving.

Handelsblatt Interview

Mittelstand’s Next Suitor

Germany’s small and medium-sized businesses are sought after by everyone from Warren Buffett to China’s Fosun. Singapore’s state fund Temasek could be the next to jump in.

Mittelstand Feud

The Knives Are Out at Kitchen Designer Alno

In a small German town, a Turkish-born self-made woman fights a Bosnian family for control of a Mittelstand firm. Never, never give up, she vows.

Family Firms

From Cuckoo Clocks to Smart Homes

When her husband became ill, former banker Gabriele Siedle was called upon to lead his family firm. The first woman to run Siedle and Sons in 260 years has made a distinguished mark.

Industry 4.0

The Mittelstand’s Digital Problem

Germany’s proud manufacturing industry risks falling behind unless its medium-sized firms embrace the fourth industrial revolution: digitization.

Family Business

An Unexpected Score

GoalAlert is a simple soccer app that started as a fun pastime project. Now a father and his sons have a seven-figure startup that hopes to take on Europe.