The Schmitz family looks back on more than 150 years of building tradition – in 1864, ancestor Peter Heinrich Schmitz built his first house in Grefrath on the Lower Rhine.
Today, the family is already continuing this tradition in the fifth generation: RALF SCHMITZ builds exclusive residential properties in particularly select and valuable locations in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Cologne and in its home town of Kempen.
With its consistent building culture and highest standards, the company is one of the most important developers of high-quality residential real estate in Germany.
RALF SCHMITZ has become a trademark – for classic architectural language and for perfect craftsmanship.
Dr.-Ing. Dipl.-Kfm. (FH) Axel Martin Schmitz
In the fifth generation, Axel Martin Schmitz is continuing a long tradition – as early as 1864, ancestor Peter Heinrich Schmitz founded his construction company in the Lower Rhine region, and since then the Schmitz family has been continuously dedicated to building. “From the ground up”, it is the aim of the managing director to give each house its own soul and to create something sustainable that moves people, whether as residents or passers-by. The large-scale Klosterhof project in Kempen was not the only testimony to this when he started. The characteristically careful planning and execution continues to this day in his company’s pioneering buildings.
Axel Martin Schmitz has been a member of the management board since 2011. In addition to project development for all regions (Kempen, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Berlin and Hamburg), his responsibilities include land acquisition, planning management and sales management. He is responsible for the company’s asset management and marketing across all locations and, as spokesman, coordinates the work of the management and the cooperation with the supervisory board. In addition, he is in charge of the company’s purchasing department as well as the customer advisory and technical departments and is responsible for the development and support of the newest location in Cologne.
The graduate in business administration earned his doctorate on the topic of “Target Group-Specific Residential Project Development” at the Bauhaus University in Weimar and regularly gives lectures and seminars as a guest lecturer. Axel Schmitz has also been providing insights into the world of construction as the author of the real estate column in the Rheinische Post since 2019.
Dipl.-Kfm. Dirk Schnurbus
After graduating in business administration, Dirk Schnurbus started his career at the auditing and tax consulting firm Arthur Andersen in Düsseldorf. He then moved to the controlling department of a telecommunications company. In 2002, he took over the management of finance and accounting at Epson Deutschland GmbH. After 8 years of activity, he moved to a family-run, medium-sized security technology company as commercial manager.
In 2012, Dirk Schnurbus became a member of the management team at DB Regio AG, NRW region, with responsibility for all commercial areas. In addition, as head of the transport operation “Express-Netz NRW”, he was responsible for the operational management of the transport operation with more than 1,200 employees.
In 2018, he moved to the management of RALF SCHMITZ GmbH and is in charge of the commercial areas. In addition to the area of finance, particularly concerning securing project financing and liquidity management, he is also responsible for the area of taxes, accounting & controlling. He is also responsible for Human Resources & Organisation and IT & Corporate Processes.
Since 1998, Dirk Schnurbus has also been active at the “Fontys Venlo University of Applied Sciences” as an external examiner for Bachelor’s degree programs.
Dipl.-Volksw. Ralf Schmitz
Ralf Schmitz looks back on a life dedicated to construction: Influenced by the family tradition, which dates back to 1864 without interruption, he graduated in economics and law at the University of Bonn and in parallel completed his journeyman’s examination as a reinforced concrete builder in 1973. In 1977, he founded RALF SCHMITZ Wohnungsbaugesellschaft out of his father’s construction company and established the business as one of Germany’s leading project developers for luxury residential real estate – jointly with son Axel Martin Schmitz as managing director since 2011.
In the course of his 46-year career as head of the company, Ralf Schmitz was most recently responsible for project development and sales management in the Berlin region. With the completion of his personal lighthouse project, the “Alexander” in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, and his 70th birthday, he has now taken over the chairmanship of the supervisory board and continues to support the company in word and deed.
In addition to his many years of service to his own company, Ralf Schmitz is also a patron of the Düsseldorf Civic Foundation, the Cultural and Business Development Association of the City of Kempen, and the North Rhine-Westphalia Art Collection. He is a member of the Rotary Club and the Industrial Club.
Dipl.-Wirtsch.-Ing. Arndt G. Kirchhoff
Arndt G. Kirchhoff is the managing partner of the KIRCHHOFF Group, Iserlohn since 1990, as well as the CEO of the KIRCHHOFF Automotive Group GmbH & Co. KG – one of the leading German automotive suppliers employing over 10,500 people in 20 countries around the world. He serves in a number of honarary positions of responsibility in organizations of the German economy.
He is the vice president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), vice president of the Association of German Employers (BDA), is a member of the board of the Federation of German Industries, president of the Association of the Metal and Electronic Industries of North Rhine-Westphalia (METALL NRW) and also holds the position of the president of the Cologne Institute for Economic Research.
Prof. Dr. Heinz-Klaus Kroppen, L.L.M.
After studying law at the universities of Kiel, Hamburg, Cologne and Washington D.C. Since 1989 Professor Kroppen was a member of the tax and legal department of Deloitte & Touche GmbH in Düsseldorf and from 1996 partner of this company. From 2011 to 2013, he headed tax and legal advice in Deloitte’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regions. From 2014 to 2019, Professor Kroppen was a tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft in Düsseldorf. From 2017 to 2019, he headed PWC’s worldwide legal advice. He is co-editor of Kroppen / Rasch „Handbuch Internationale Verrechnungspreise“ and co-editor of Gosch / Kroppen / Grothen / Kraft “DBA Kommentar”. He was appointed honorary professor at the Ruhr University in Bochum in 2005.
Dipl.-Ökonom Stefan H. Mühling
After almost 20 years of project development work in the Strabag Group, Stefan H. Mühling founded “die developer Projektentwicklung GmbH” in April 2008 together with Kurt Zech as the main shareholder of Zech Group SE, Bremen. Within a very short time, the company has grown market recognition and has caused a sensation with distinctive and media-relevant flagship projects, such as the Kö-Bogen by Daniel Libeskind and the L’Oréal Headquarters in Düsseldorf or the urban development Urban Soul in Bonn. “Die developer Projektentwicklung GmbH” develops high-quality real estate for profit and quality-oriented real estate investors in western Germany, since 2020 also in Berlin. The main focus lies on the development of commercial real estate in the office and retail sector from initiation to completion – for both new buildings as well as refurbishments.
“Only valuePeter Heinrich Schmitz, Founder, 1864
The antithesis of trend is tradition. Without tradition’s deep roots there can be no growth – and no beauty, because beauty always draws from experience, and therefore history.
Architecture is a form of constructed history. However, it is usually regarded only from the creator’s vantage point and rarely illuminated from other perspectives. But it is often the developer
and client, the “director” of the building process, “who must have an overview equally of the score, orchestra and audience,” as renowned architect Paul Kahlfeldt describes it. “And the Schmitz family firm understands itself as the director; they approach each project as if for themselves – just in multiples.”
The firm’s history began in 1864 when Peter Heinrich Schmitz founded a construction company in Grefrath am Niederrhein, establishing a family tradition of craftsmanship. After
erecting churches, cloisters and factories in the region, the Schmitz company built their first villa in 1896 on commission
from a textile manufacturer, marking the start of business in the premium residential segment. The third-born son, Heinrich Schmitz, founded the office in Kempen some ten years later, which he continued to lead as Heinrich Schmitz KG after 1919.
Finding suitable real estate in good and excellent residential areas in these urban hubs has become increasingly complex. The Berlin branch of the Schmitz company has since become synonymous with the development of high-quality real estate, thanks in part to its intensive collaboration with numerous renowned architects, as has been the practice in Düsseldorf.
The Schmitz-Wohnungsbaugesellschaft was reconstituted as Ralf Schmitz GmbH. The firm remains entirely family-run and is owned 100 per cent by the family. In 2013, the Hamburg office’s first real estate project was completed in the upscale Othmarschen district. On the occasion of its 150th anniversary, the monograph Architektur und Handwerk was published by Jovis, providing a multifaceted documentation of the classical and elegant buildings built by the Schmitz family.
In late 2016, the international press cheered the completion of the prestigious Eisenzahn 1 near Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm – the first and exclusive collaboration between Italian luxury brand Bottega Veneta and a German development group.
Further exemplary projects follow in collaboration with the architectural firm SEBSTIAN TREESE ARCHITEKTEN, which receives the Driehaus Architecture Prize in 2021 for its outstanding achievements in modern classical architecture. With RALF SCHMITZ’s unmistakable style, the firm creates extraordinary buildings such as those on Linienstrasse in Berlin or the curved brick facades of Achenbachstrasse in Düsseldorf. In 2022, the completion of the showcase project ALEXANDER in Berlin-Wilmersdorf crowns the work of the 4th generation of the family business.
Currently, various new prestigious projects are under construction or in planning at all locations – now for the first time also in Cologne, in the renowned Marienburg district, proving that founder Peter Heinrich Schmitz’s guiding mandate has withstood the test of 160 years’ time: “Only value will endure.”
IN THE THIRD GENERATION, THE CONSTRUCTION FIRM TURNED INTO A HOUSE-BUILDING DEVELOPER.
As the market became increasingly saturated in the 1970s, however, Ralf Schmitz – the firm’s fourth-generation son – concentrated on the development of particularly high-quality residential estates and founded his own company in Kempen in 1977 at the age of just 24. The firm established itself in no time with its refined freehold flats in Kempen, Krefeld and Düsseldorf.
The company made its first foray into Berlin in 2004; two refined city villas in the well-heeled district of Grunewald were markers of the things to come. Simultaneously a diverse group of new, striking sites were planned and realised in Düsseldorf.