Manfred Haenisch of CON-TRUCK LOGISTIC GMBH, a member of The COOP in Hamburg, recently spoke with us about his journey into freight forwarding and what makes CON-TRUCK stand out from the Hamburg forwarding crowd.
Q. When and how did you get into the freight forwarding industry?
A. In 1970, when I left school, I started my apprenticeship of three years with Kühne & Nagel – Hamburg. After my graduation as freight forwarder at the Chamber of Commerce Hamburg and serving 15 month with the German forces, I started again in 1975, as a forwarding agent at Kühne & Nagel – project shipments to the Persian / Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea area.
As I originally wanted to train as a ships agent/broker, I had the chance to work from Oct 1976 to the end of 1977 as a trainee at a shipping agency in London. I had been assigned as a trainee to the Baltic Exchange in there, where I learned a lot about the chartering business which has been very helpful over the years. After returning to Hamburg in 1978, I started working in several forwarding companies in Hamburg, particularly from 1979 to 2012 in the export market to Brazil and as well worldwide both in ocean and airfreight. Since 2013, I have been with Con-Truck Logistic in Hamburg.
Q. Can you tell us a little of the history of CON-TRUCK LOGISTIC GMBH?
A. Con-Truck was founded as a container trucking company in 1988 and in 1995 a shipping department was opened by Dieter Grabeljesk and Michael Skaritsch who took over the company at the time as equal partners.
Container trucking as an official part of the company was given up in 2010 and only the shipping department remained.
The shipping department started off with Michael and Dieter and one lady for documentation. Together they handled the business of Con-Truck’s major market, exporting to West Africa. This continues to be a major market for us. Con-Truck was/is offering a full service to our clients, commercial and private persons, for shipment to African countries. This includes trucks, cars, vans (new and used) as well as FCL and LCL cargo. We offer a large number of rent-container for short term and long term rent on our premises which are used by a number of clients to store their belongings when it’s worthwhile, they order an export container and Con-Truck arranges the shipment including the export customs handling.
Since 1995, the company has grown to a total of eleven staff working in operations, documentation, customs service, sales, bookkeeping as well as three forwarding apprentices. Con-Truck, as well as offering loading of container, warehousing and haulage of export vehicles from our clients too, we also have three drivers and three container loading/stuffing staff.
Q. What distinguishes CON-TRUCK LOGISTIC GMBH from other freight forwarders in your city?
A. Con-Truck is one of the few forwarding companies specialized in the field of exporting to Africa with its own 10000m2 yard and 900m2 warehouse, forklift equipment of 2 x 2mt, 1 x 6mt, 1x 16mt, 1 x 36mt which enables us to arrange the movement of almost any kind of cargo for loading container. Also, we run 2 trucks (12m trailer) for the pick-up of cars with 12 to capacity which can load up to 3 cars/ vehicles. Which we use for pick up of vehicles at our clients within an area of 300 – 400 km around Hamburg, for vehicles instead delivered, direct to the RORO terminal, to our facilities. We run another pickup truck able to load 2 vehicles.
As well we are very flexible in moving Container to and from our yard with our own Truck, which give the advantage to us and our clients to work more flexible in respect of closing times for container deliveries for outbound ocean vessels.
This all give Con-Truck an advantage against our competitors who are working in the same field of business on ocean exports to west Africa. As well to our partners and clients for whom we load container with vehicles and general cargo
Q. What are the main challenges facing freight forwarders in the Germany at the moment?
A. The main challenge, not only for German forwarders, right now is the compensation on business to the Fareast in particular China, as well as the Russian market. But there are many other problems to be taken care off as “the cake is getting smaller and everybody would like a slice”. The best example of this are the shipping lines who are offering lower rates in order to get better utilization of their vessel, forcing forwarders to do the same, which results in forwarders struggling to make money.
As well I personally think that the service of the forwarders needs to more respected by the customers and paid for instead of making changes because one is quoting 5 – 10 € less. Service has to be paid for, poor payments for service never means that a good service is provided.
Q. How is the freight forwarding industry tackling these challenges?
A. Every forwarding company is tackling them alone by analyzing the market(s) and reacting accordingly.
Q. How is CON-TRUCK LOGISTIC GMBH dealing with these challenges on a daily basis?
A. Con-Truck is analyzing the changes on a daily basis for our particular business and trying to find solutions for us and our customer. Currently, there are the restrictions on money transfers and inflation in Nigeria, a big problem, and here we are trying to find solutions for our customers day to day, but unfortunately there is very little we can do.
Q. What attracted you to apply for membership of the COOP?
A. Con-Truck has never been a member of any network before and we are enjoying the Membership at the COOP, as it gives us the advantage of increasing our business and provide us with the chance to be able to give a better “full service” to our clients.
Q. What benefits are you seeing as a member of The COOP?
A. As mentioned before, we are seeing an increase in the number of worldwide partners as the network continues to grow. This consequently means that every member has a real chance of being a global player without needing to run their own offices all over the world.
We invite members with shipments in Hamburg are invited to get in touch with the team.