A history of Ulm’s oldest, still operative business

From the “Miller among the fishermen at Fisherman’s Gate” to today’s SchapfenMühle.

The mill around 1891

This was the illustrious name, first documented in 1452, of what was to become today’s mill company, Schapfen Mühle, although the business is known to have existed even earlier than this date. In the book of statutes and ordinances of the city of Ulm, the “Red Book” of 1440, there is mention of the “Wittinger Mill”. Heinrich der Wittinger from the German Staufer dynasty was likely to have been the first “full-service provider” at the time for the farmers, bakers and housewives who would come to him to have grain ground. Though his business activities did not stop there. Next to the mill on the River Blau he also owned a public bath house, employing a “barber surgeon, towel master and leecher”. Yet Schapfen Mühle’s history can be traced even further back. It has also been verified that in the 11th century, in the days of the Ulm Royal Palace, a miller plied his trade at the Fisherman’s Gate against the palace walls. Even today, the wall of the Staufer palace passes through the former mill.

 

From the medieval “Kinkelin” to the family name “Künkele”

The mill around 1928

Twenty generations of Schapfen millers are known by name and can be traced all the way back to the year 1499 – to a Hans Kinkelin, the ancestor of today’s owners. The building name “Schapfen Mühle”, today synonymous with the Künkele family, has been in use since 1633. Carl Künkele, a miller from Urach and grandfather to today’s owner and general manager Heinz Künkele, acquired the mill in 1891 and the business by Ulm’s River Blau enjoyed consistent growth in the second and third generations.

Surety bond 1891
Carl Künkele

 

 

Whitsun 1983 – A major fire marks a turning point

The mill in 2002

On Whit Sunday in 1983, a major fire devastates the Schapfen mill. Only the residential building and the grain silo survive. The event calls for strategic entrepreneurial decisions; the result is the construction of a new plant outside of Ulm city centre. The up-and-coming district of Jungingen in the Ulmer Alb hills – with a coat of arms appropriately featuring ears of grain –  is chosen as the new home of Schapfen Mühle. The proximity to producers of the mill’s raw materials makes the new home a favourable business location.

 

 

The Federal Republic of Germany’s first computer-controlled mill

After the major fire in 1983 and the relocation to Jungingen, the new plant was fitted with 90 km of cable for producing 20 different flour products.
At the start of 1998, Schapfen Mühle commissioned a new extension building covering 30,000 m². The flow of products is regulated in an optimised production process over four floors. The adjoining fully-automatic high-bay storage facility with 3,000 pallet slots offers sufficient space for a product range adapted to market demands. The newly built Schapfen Mühle is rapidly developing into a modern business with an exemplary organisational structure. It has its own modern test bakery and a fully equipped laboratory. Three mainframe computers are able to process 17,000 commands and control around 220 motors in Germany’s first computer-controlled mill.

 

 

Into the next century with highest quality and innovative ideas

For reliable operation and to ensure a constant high standard of quality, baking, monitoring and analysis are carried out continually at the Schapfen mill. As an expert producer of refined flour, Schapfen Mühle is also bringing high-quality bread-baking produce and fillings onto the market.  Schapfen Mühle has established itself, not just in Southern Germany, as a respected provider of the finest baking mixtures, spelt products and health foods.

 

 

Indicator for future growth – the new grain silo

The new silo in 2004

The construction of the new grain silo in 2004 was prompted not just by business factors, but also environmental and developmental considerations. 

  • savings on rent for contracted warehousing 
  • savings on inbound and outbound freight
  • increased storage capacity 
  • separate warehousing 
  • traceability of raw materials
  • larger mixing units due to increased storage capacity 
  • photovoltaic system

 

 

The silo tower

  • Height 116 m
  • Oats cleaning, oats hulling, spelt hulling
  • Capacity: 10,000 m³
  • Storing capacity for cereals: 8,000 MT
  • Oats cleaning 7 MT / h, oats hulling 3 MT / h, spelt hulling 2 MT / h

Coming directly from the field or the production cooperative, the grain is stored in discrete batches in one of the most modern grain silos in the world. This makes it possible to mix grains according to purpose or individual criteria, and guarantee a constantly high product quality, over long-term operation.

 

 

 

In order to create space for further growth, Schapfen Mühle expanded in 2005 with a second location nearby in Dornstadt. The bakery business division moves to the new site, where a test bakery and an independent logistics centre are developed.

Only a year later, the sister company CeralPAN GmbH is launched. This incorporates the cereals division. Using “puffing technology”, grains are expanded several times in size with steam and pressure. Yet the shape of the grain is essentially maintained, and it is given a crispy consistency. The puffed grains are either left in that form or undergo a further coating stage where the grains are covered in the desired coating.

 

 

BioKorn – Trust in quality

In 2007, three mills (Schapfen Mühle, Heimats Mühle, and Frießinger Mühle) combined the expertise of three companies with long traditions to form the new company, BioKorn. The professional collaboration of the three mills in the newly formed BioKorn GmbH & Co. KG offers both private and business customers a broad range of pure organic milled products.

Using the latest product methods and with the supervision of qualified employees, BioKorn GmbH & Co. KG is able to ensure the highest standard of premium products, now and in the future.

 

 

Schapfen Mühle takes over the Alb Agrar warehouse in Neenstetten

In order to expand contract agriculture in the region and reduce the amount of contract warehousing, Schapfen Mühle takes over the two warehouses of the insolvent agricultural trade company Zirn, shortly before the 2010 harvest period. While the warehouse in Beimerstetten remains the property of the owning family, Schapfen Mühle has purchased the establishment in Neenstetten. Farmers in the region can continue to deliver their grain to both locations as well as to the Schapfen mill.
The Schapfen Mühle primarily processes regional grains in line with its philosophy: the Schapfen Mühle value chain ranges from the sowing – the company supports farmers in choosing seeds and signs cultivation contracts with them – to the intake of the harvest, processing and refining, and on to the final product. All work stages are carried out in house, which simplifies traceability and ensures a high product quality.