Partner at your Side
Who We Are
We have been passionate about technology and innovation for over 70 years. From a medium-sized company, we have grown into a modern industrial enterprise and are now leaders in the production of high-quality waste collection vehicles and lifter systems. The guiding principle of our day-to-day endeavours is our high-quality standard. Through innovation and discipline, we supply you with the safest and most modern products. We impress with sophisticated, customised solutions and fast, customer-oriented service. We act with foresight, providing support without ifs and buts – always exactly where help is needed. With our down-to-earth corporate philosophy, we also cultivate an open dialogue with partners and employees.
Vision & Values
As a family-run company, visions and values are particularly important to us: for generations, they have formed the basis for trusting cooperation and our entrepreneurial success. They are the bond that unites all ZOELLER employees into a strong team.
Honesty and reliability: Honesty, transparency and fairness in communication are important principles for us. We always provide timely and open information, are reliable and keep our promises. In this way, we create the basis for efficient action and target-orientated decisions.
Trust and respect: praise and recognition make us strong, efficient and self-confident. That is why we show attention and appreciation to every individual – regardless of their national or ethnic origin, gender, religion, age, disability or private lifestyle. We regard the diversity of people and cultures in our company as an enrichment. And we assume that everyone’s actions, insights and statements are correct and true.
Social, ecological and cultural responsibility: We are committed to charitable projects, support voluntary work by our employees wherever possible, train and educate young people and train older people with regard to new developments. We also promote the cultural characteristics of the countries in which we operate: Art, music, literature, traditions and faith are important components of quality of life for us. However, we also pay particular attention to protecting our environment. Our activities in this area can be found in the Sustainability section.
One of the most fundamental principles of our company policy is to preserve nature and biodiversity for future generations. For this reason, we have been certified not only for our quality, but also for our environmental management system. In the continuous improvement of products, systems, procedures and processes, the economical use of resources and environmentally friendly thinking are important objectives that are observed and promoted at all levels of the organisation. Since 1 January 2022, we have also been using 100% green electricity with RenewablePLUS, saving 974 tonnes of CO2 by the end of the current term on 31.12.24.
Dipl.-ing. Thomas Schmitz has headed the ZOELLER Group since 13 November 2002. As CEO, the trained toolmaker and mechanical engineer is responsible for technical development, design, patents, sales, general exports and marketing. He is particularly passionate about technical innovations and strategic market development; for sustainable development towards a CO2-neutral economy, taking into account and honouring the balance of economic, social and environmental aspects.
Markus Dautermann has been with the company since 2008. After holding various positions, including in quality management, production and operations management in Mainz and as COO at ZOELLER SYSTEMS, he is now responsible for operational value creation, production and day-to-day business in the ZOELLER Group; he is also CEO of ZOELLER SYSTEMS. His goal is to continuously develop both the organisational units in the production companies and the automation in the value chain, while providing customers with products and services that support them on the path to a sustainable future and a circular economy.
Volker Schröder has been with ZÖLLER-KIPPER GmbH since 2005 and works as a commercial director (CFO) at individual and group company level. The business administration graduate is responsible for Finance, Controlling, Group Accounting, Treasury, IT, Human Resources and Quality Management. His personal vision of a clean future is a world in which mainly renewable energies cover energy needs and sustainable agriculture and a sustainable lifestyle are the norm.
Volker Schröder, CFO ZOELLER Group (Right)
Markus Dautermann, COO ZOELLER Group (Left)
A Journey through Time through our
For centuries, our urban ancestors threw their household waste out of the window. But because this literally stank to high heaven, from the 19th century onwards they collected their waste in pits behind the house, which were emptied by a private carter as required. It was not until the end of the 19th century that there was a kind of regular waste collection service, initially still using horse-drawn carts. The sophisticated technology behind today’s refuse collection vehicles was not invented until the 1930s in the Laubenheim district of Mainz – by Hans Zöller, a master mechanic at the time.
Nothing less than a small revolution…
… was triggered in 1938 by a workshop foreman employed by the city of Mainz: With a clever idea and technical knowledge, Hans Zöller developed a device that from then on mechanised the lifting of waste bins for emptying. This was a huge relief for the refuse collection workers, as the bins, which were often filled with glowing ash from the coal-fired ovens, were made of metal, weighed up to 60 kilograms and had no wheels – making it a back-breaking job to lift them one by one over many hours.
Smart business idea: ergonomics in waste management
In the same year, Hans Zöller applied for a patent for his “bin tipper” – but it was another nine years before he founded his own company with 20 employees in Mainz-Laubenheim in 1947, today’s ZÖLLER-KIPPER GmbH. Initially, the rear and side tippers were produced in the workshop in Riedweg in Mainz, then from 1952 onwards at the new company premises in Wormser Straße. Word of the innovative waste disposal solutions developed here spread to other cities and municipalities, so that the company grew rapidly: in 1958, a two-storey administration building was added, and there were now 82 employees in total.
Waste in fashion: the waste market is booming
One of the many reasons for Zöller’s success was his good timing, because the economic miracle in the 1950s and 1960s also changed the consumer behaviour of the German population: instead of buying unpackaged items from the corner shop, people increasingly turned to plastic-wrapped goods in the supermarket. They also often bought more than they actually needed. And finally, more and more households were using central heating, which meant no more burning waste in coal stoves. All triggers for increasing quantities of waste, which made the industry the growth market of the future.
Farewell to the company founder: a challenging time
In the middle of this busy phase, Hans Zöller passed away – from then on, the company management was in the hands of his daughter Helga Schulz-Zöller. She changed the legal form of the company from a partnership to a limited company and had a modified tipping device developed for the large waste container (MGB) first shown at an exhibition in 1961. The new bins represented another milestone in the history of waste disposal, because as most households were now equipped with central heating systems, they could be made of pure plastic – instead of 25 kilograms, they weighed just six kilograms empty. At the same time, the capacity of the new bins increased from a maximum of 110 litres to 240 litres: an additional measure to cope with the growing quantities of waste per household, which in turn meant adapting the refuse collection vehicles. In order to be able to empty all MGB sizes on a disposal tour with just one refuse collection vehicle, the Mainz-based company constructed so-called comb tippers, which it also exported to many other countries.
On the way to the top: Conquering the international market
At the beginning of the 1980s, ZÖLLER-KIPPER opened up new export markets and founded the subsidiary ZOELLER WASTE SYSTEMS in England. The high demand, which pushed the company to its production limits in the early 1990s, led to the establishment of ZOELLER SYSTEMS near the Czech capital of Prague and the takeover of STUMMER Kommunalfahrzeuge in Bischofshofen, Austria. And as the European market was dominated by tenders for refuse collection vehicles with lifter systems, the company entered into a partnership with the Italian refuse collection vehicle manufacturer Brivio. At the start of the new millennium, the new Managing Director Thomas Schmitz strengthened the sales organisation through further partnerships and the acquisition of additional companies. This collaboration ultimately led to the takeover of ZÖLLER-KIPPER GmbH by the Kirchhoff family of entrepreneurs from Iserlohn, in whose group the company is still part of the Ecotec environmental division – one of the world’s leading providers of solutions for waste disposal logistics and street cleaning technologies.
Outlook: Today for tomorrow
In recent years, the topic of sustainability has also become increasingly important for the Kirchhoff Ecotec Group: for example, it is making a decisive contribution to a clean future by developing refuse collection vehicles with alternative drive systems in the field of electromobility or with hydrogen fuel cells. The founding of the subsidiary SCANTEC GmbH with products such as SMART SCAN for the digital detection of contaminants and recyclable materials can also optimise waste separation and thus improve recycling rates, among other things. Zöller-Kipper and the Ecotec Group are always working with an inventive spirit on innovative solutions for individual customer requirements. Always according to the motto: Technik entscheidet. A motto that runs like a red thread through the company’s history to this day – and would certainly fill Hans Zöller with pride.