Friedrich Schwing, Sr., founder of Schwing GmbH, has more than 1,200 patents relating to innovations in material handling and construction equipment. Most notably, the Schwing all-hydraulic, twin-cylinder concrete pump design powers the majority of modern concrete pumps. This invention established a new method for moving concrete through a pipeline resulting in structures that could not have been built prior to the modern concrete pump. His invention resulted in construction efficiency without the manual labor and with extraordinary speed of placement never before achieved by other methods.
His engineering expertise was not only aimed at product performance but also operator safety. Schwing helped establish the American Concrete Pumping Association (ACPA), which has safety as a key focus. Schwing's corporate policy directed resources towards safety guidelines, safety seminars, safety materials and hundreds of hours of donated employee time on industry committees and boards.
Schwing led by example with a work ethic and modesty that meant he wore the oldest suit and drove a 20-year-old car. His leadership style was to delegate functions better left to his employees, so he could pursue solutions through engineering. Schwing also had a penchant for sustainability before it was popular. Another of his innovations was a ready-mix reclaimer introduced in the 1980s to convert returned concrete to its components of sand, aggregate, cement and water. This system provides 100-percent recycling of these materials for economic and environmental benefits, especially less water use and excess concrete dumping.