The Benefits of Being Different

Goldbeck GmbH, a family-run construction and real estate company based in Bielefeld, offers everything from a single source. It designs, builds, and operates commercial properties such as hall buildings, office complexes, and multi-level car parks. It also manufactures the component parts of these structures. With the courage to pursue an individual course yet also to think in systems, it has become one of Germany's most successful medium-sized enterprises.


Porsche Consulting / Marco Prosch
Jörg-Uwe Goldbeck takes a shortcut across the rooftop terrace of his company's headquarters in Bielefeld. Since its founding in 1969, the company has consistently forged its own path.Porsche Consulting / Marco Prosch

“We’ve always done things dif­fer­ent­ly,” says Jörg-Uwe Gold­beck (53), manag­ing direc­tor of the Gold­beck con­struc­tion and real estate com­pa­ny in Biele­feld. In 2007, hand his broth­er Jan-Hen­drik (44) took over the com­pa­ny founded back in 1969 by their father, Ortwin Gold­beck, who is now 83. Today, the cor­po­rate group employs more than 8,000 peo­ple, mak­ing it the largest fam­i­ly-run enter­prise in Ger­many. Courage and inno­v­a­tive power are the dri­ving forces behind its rise to become one of the coun­try’s most suc­cess­ful medi­um-sized com­pa­nies. 

Porsche Consulting/Marco Prosch
Customers can view sample products at a 1:1 scale on display in the weather-protected space of the company's enormous entrance hall. Porsche Consulting/Marco Prosch

We don't build anything we don't plan, and we don't plan anything we don't build.

Jörg-Uwe Goldbeck
Managing Director, Goldbeck GmbH

The posi­tion­ing of this owner-run con­struc­tion com­pa­ny does not sound ter­ri­bly excit­ing. It is a gen­er­al con­trac­tor for com­mer­cial and munic­i­pal above-ground build­ings, and also pro­vides some relat­ed ser­vices. What dis­tin­guish­es this West­phalian busi­ness, how­ev­er, is its approach. Gold­beck uses sys­tem­at­ic mod­u­lar means to make turnkey halls, office build­ings, and multi-level car parksIt viewbuild­ings as prod­ucts. It devel­opand pro­ducemajor com­po­nents itselfthen erectthe build­ings, and if desired will oper­ate and man­age them as well. Cus­tomers receive every­thing from a sin­gle source. As Jörg-Uwe Gold­beck says, “We don’t build any­thing we don’t plan, and we don’t plan any­thing we don’t build.” 

Better, faster, more economical

The sys­tems approach taken by this indus­tri­al com­pa­ny in the con­struc­tion sec­tor derives from prac­tices in the auto­mo­tive sec­tor. The lat­ter is con­sid­ered a pio­neer in man­u­fac­tur­ing dif­fer­ent mod­els on a sin­gle plat­form. A lot of our com­peti­tors made fun of our course in the begin­ning,” recalls Jörg-Uwe Gold­beck. But that soon changed when the coura­geous fam­i­ly met with suc­cessA sys­temapproach has made our work bet­ter, faster, and more eco­nom­i­cal,” says the com­pa­ny head. Gold­beck­’s own plants pre­fab­ri­cate 80 to 90 per­cent of the com­po­nents used at its con­struc­tion sitesinclud­ing seven-ton roofs and 18-meter con­crete pil­lars. The com­pa­ny has ten such plants. Some make con­crete walls and roofs, and oth­ers pro­duce sup­port­ing struc­tures, win­dows, and doors from alu­minum and steelIt has more than 70 branch loca­tions through­out Europe

Porsche Consulting/Marco Prosch
An abundance of light and space, just a few steps from the atrium to Jörg-Uwe Goldbeck's office. Steel trusses—one of the company's specialties—are visible everywhere below the ceilings.Porsche Consulting/Marco Prosch

Despite the mod­u­lar con­struc­tion, every build­ing is an indi­vid­ual cre­ation with dif­fer­ent floor heights and its own façade. Around 50 per­cent of the approx­i­mate­ly 500 projects that Gold­beck han­dles each year are logis­tics halls; the rest are office com­plex­es, park­ing garages, and other build­ings. The com­pa­ny is the undis­put­ed leader in its sec­toraround half of Ger­many’s multi-level car parks are “devel­oped and made by Gold­beck.” A spe­cial coup was the con­tract to build Tes­la’s gigafac­to­ry in Grün­hei­de, near the cap­i­tal city of Berlin. After win­ning the con­tract in June 2020, Gold­beck was able to hand over the plant to the Cal­i­for­nia-based elec­tric car­mak­er just eleven months later in May 2021on sched­ule and with­in bud­get. The plant was a flag­ship project. “It would not have been pos­si­ble if we did­n’t have our own indus­tri­al capac­ities to pre­fab­ri­cate con­struc­tion com­po­nents,” notes Gold­beck. 

Thinking outside the box

Inno­va­tions are another key to the com­pa­ny’s suc­cess. And Gold­beck­’s lead­ers think out­side the box here. What do com­pa­nies in other fields do bet­terWhat can Gold­beck learn and adapt for its own pur­pos­es? As just one exam­ple, two years ago it sent a small R&D team to Sil­i­con Val­ley to assess poten­tial col­lab­o­ra­tive ven­tures with start-ups that com­bine con­struc­tion with dig­i­tal­iza­tion. Gold­beck also main­tains ties with the Cen­ter for Inte­grat­ed Facil­i­ty Engi­neer­ing (CIFE) at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, which spe­cial­izes in dig­i­tal­ized con­struc­tion. “Our vision is to build intel­li­gently with new tech­nolo­gies,” says Jörg-Uwe Gold­beck. In shortthe com­pa­ny seeks future-ori­ent­ed pro­duc­tion. Advances such as robots are already play­ing a role at its con­struc­tion sites. They are being test­ed for tasks such as drilling and paint­ing, while a “dog­like” robot scans and doc­u­ments progress on site. 

The second generation also "writes its strategies with pencils and its values with fountain pens." Jan-Hendrik (left) and Jörg-Uwe Goldbeck jointly manage the company founded by their father, Ortwin.Goldbeck

Yet anoth­er rea­son for the suc­cess of the com­pa­ny lies in how its two lead­ers work togeth­erJan-Hen­drik is pri­mar­i­ly respon­si­ble for tech­nol­o­gy, dig­i­tal­iza­tion, and inter­na­tion­al­iza­tion, where­as Jörg-Uwe is in charge of mat­ters like finances, per­son­nel, and pro­duc­tion. “We com­ple­ment each other very well,” says the lat­ter. The broth­ers place a pre­mi­um on teams with smart and moti­vat­ed mem­bers. “It’s extreme­ly impor­tant to us to use the dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties and skills of our employ­ees in the best pos­si­ble ways,” he empha­sizes. They should be prob­lem solvers, inven­tors, guides, and teach­ers with a high level of com­mit­ment and depend­abil­i­tyFounder Ortwin Gold­beck’s say­ing holds to this day“We write our strate­gies with pen­ciland our val­ues with foun­tain pens.” The recruit­ment process active­ly seeks these val­ues. As Jörg-Uwe Gold­beck explains, “We make sure to have a broad range of tal­ent and peo­ple who want to go the extra mile.” The con­struc­tion com­pa­ny with the blue logo devel­ops its man­age­ment per­son­nel in large part inter­nal­ly. Yet it delib­er­ate­ly fills key posi­tions in pro­duc­tion with exter­nal man­agers, for exam­ple from the auto­mo­tive indus­try. “To remain suc­cess­ful in the future, we have to look beyond our own ranks and bring in some top indi­vid­u­als with objec­tive views and fresh ideas.” 

Transparent: The parking garages from Bielefeld are made with precast components. The Goldbeck company's employee garage in Hirschberg serves as a pilot project. Carbon fiber meshes in the ceiling panels replace conventional steel reinforcement methods.Goldbeck

Steel versus carbon

The same is true for sus­tain­abil­i­ty. This qual­i­ty has always played an impor­tant role for the Biele­felders, whom the Intes Acad­e­my named “fam­i­ly-run com­pa­ny of the year” in 2019This can be seen in the ques­tion of steel ver­sus car­bon. Anti-cor­ro­sion, high per­for­mance, and reduced weight are the goalsnot only in con­struc­tion but also in avi­a­tion and auto­mo­tive engi­neer­ing. Indus­tri­al­ly pro­duced fibers made of car­bon ele­ments are a good 20 per­cent lighter and 40 times stronger than steel, and can with­stand extreme loads. By using car­bon in con­struc­tion we can reduce the size of our foun­da­tions and lower the amount of con­crete we use,” says Gold­beck. “Car­bon con­crete does­n’t cor­rode, so it also has a longer ser­vice life and does­n’t need much main­te­nance.” 

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Far-sighted connections: Goldbeck prefers to bolt parts together. This makes deconstruction and precision recycling easier at the end of product life cycles.Porsche Consulting/Marco Prosch

Demands con­tin­ue to rise for durable sub­stances, sus­tain­abil­i­ty, and long-term flex­i­bil­i­ty based on con­struc­tion meth­ods that also sim­pli­fy decon­struc­tion. “As soon as we start design­ing a build­ing, we’re already envis­ag­ing an aver­age life cycle of 30 or 40 years.” When­ev­er pos­si­ble, there­fore, the com­pa­ny uses mechan­i­cal con­nec­tors that make decon­struc­tion eas­i­er and recy­cling more pre­cise A sus­tain­able approach that tran­scends prod­uct life cycles means that Gold­beck­’s experts are already account­ing for demo­li­tion even before con­struc­tion begins.   

Good grades: Goldbeck builds schools like this one in the northern German town of Büdelsdorf quickly and on schedule. There is a high demand for new buildings that meet modern needs—for clients in both private and public education.Goldbeck

Con­struc­tion projects in the pub­lic sec­tor are a promis­ing future field for Gold­beck. The com­pa­ny already enjoys a good rep­u­ta­tion for its schools and admin­is­tra­tive build­ings. In 2017, it added res­i­den­tial build­ings and has com­plet­ed its first ref­er­ence projects. “We want to gain expe­ri­ence and incor­po­rate as much exper­tise as pos­si­ble from other areas,” says Jörg-Uwe Gold­beck. The com­pa­ny is expect­ed to grow, espe­cial­ly in Ger­many and its neigh­bor­ing coun­tries. “Wher­ev­er you go, peo­ple wel­come high lev­els of per­for­mance.” 

Porsche Consulting/Marco Prosch
Dr. Wulf Härtel with the 16-meter trusses used to make buildings like Tesla's factory in Germany. Goldbeck's director of manufacturing worked for Benteler Automotive for 23 years before entering the construction industry in 2020.Porsche Consulting/Marco Prosch

Future-oriented production

The decision was made in November 2020. Dr. Wulf Härtel, Managing Director Goldbeck Manufacturing in Bielefeld, commissioned experts from Porsche Consulting to conduct an ambitious project together with a team from all divisions of his company. The goal is to transform the technologies used in concrete and steel construction and thereby set a secure future course for this leader in the industry. "The main reason for selecting Porsche Consulting was its strong reputation, particularly in this area," says Dr. Härtel, who himself has long years of experience in the automotive sector. 

"We wanted to answer the question of what technologies will put us in a good position to produce the construction components we need to further expand our edge over the competition and remain the leader in our field." Porsche Consulting was asked to serve as both sparring partner and technology scout. The project started by defining 27 areas in which to search for new technologies relevant to future-oriented production—from production and intralogistics to delivery. It then closely examined around 200 technologies. As Porsche Consulting project manager Dr. Manuel Schönwitz explained, "We did intensive research in a number of databases and came up with a quite a few new developments." The team finally selected 33 technologies that should soon be put to use. They are now part of the company's toolbox for modular means of renewing existing factories and building new ones. These technologies show a high level of development and stand ready for use. "Practicality and robustness were the main criteria for selection, but also future potential," says Dr. Härtel.  

The second part of the project consisted of designing a model layout for future concrete and steel factories. "It's more than just a vision of factories made by modular means," says Dr. Härtel. "Feasibility is also important, because you want to put the vision into practice." The project was completed in June. While still only on paper at the moment, it could soon become reality—and Goldbeck will then have concrete and steel factories whose modular construction and innovative technologies enable them to respond in flexible ways to changing demands. 
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