Hövelmann Logistik, a founding member of New Silk Road Network (NSRN), is a company 75-year-old company with a unique legacy and an exciting past. A family run business, Hövelmann has been resilient over the decades because of a distinctive factor that we learnt about in an interview with Frank Maslock. Mr Maslock is the branch manager for Hövelmann Logistik’s set up in Haldensleben, where he has operational and managerial responsibilities. Working with the company for over seven years, Mr Maslock gave us a glimpse into Hövelmann’s business model and ethos.
The talk covered the humble beginnings of Hövelmann Logistik and their path to success. Moreover, we learnt about the companies wide array of facilities and their strong commitment towards running a sustainable company. The distinctive factor that Mr Maslock pointed out to us reflects well with NSRN, and that is the need for good networking.
Q1. 1945 was a memorable year in Germany’s history (death of Hitler and surrender of Germany), this was also the year that Hövelmann Logistik was founded. How was the climate for new business back then, and what were some of the challenges that the early founders had to overcome? How has it influenced business today?
Frank: The conditions for running a company were different back then. So naturally, it required ingenuity to manoeuvre in such a scenario. Our founder, Bernhard Hövelmann, the founder of Hövelmann Logistik, was a great talent. He began as a baker’s apprentice and then bought an old wartime truck which he used to transport coal from Ruhr area to the local farms, he even carried pigs to and from the slaughterhouse. Bernhard Hövelmann had two essential skills, communicating and networking, with which he established a good base for himself. Since money or currency didn’t exist at the time, services were rendered for goods such as bacon or sausages!
By 1951, he bought a new truck, and in the following years, he slowly began to grow the business. In 1954, Berhard Hövelmann had three trucks along with a set of employees. His son, Wilhelm Hövelmann, joined the business at a young age. In 1963, at the age of 23, he took charge of the company as Bernhard Hövelmann passed away. A visionary like his father, Wilhelm Hövelmann expanded the company immensely, as he acquired 230 trucks, 700 employees and a total of 100,000 sq meters of storage area.
Three significant milestones shaped the company to what it is today. First, in 1968 Hövelmann opened a branch in Berlin, at the time the Berlin Wall stood firm so it was quite a privilege to get permission from the West German authorities to set up a branch there. Second, after the collapse of the Wall, Hövelmann went to Haldensleben to take over the transport company there and further expand their set up. Finally, in 2014 Hövelmann delved into contract logistics. The company transformed from forwarding to a logistics unit, acquiring almost 80,000sq meter of space at that time.
Though the company had seen many changes since its beginning in 1945, the core values acquired then drive the company forward today. We always build a secure connection with our customers and strive to find solutions for all their needs. Moreover, we have the will to develop and grow with a sense of openness and inclusivity. Finally, the most critical aspect is to continue networking, that helps to maintains our relationships and increases our reach.
Q2. Since you are the Branch Manager of Hövelmann’s Haldensleben setup, what are your current roles? How long have you been with Hövelmann, and what has your journey been like? What does a typical day look like for you?
Frank: I joined Hövelmann 7 years ago and am responsible for warehouse setups in Haldensleben and customers. We perform food, textile and automobile logistics for our clients. Interestingly, no one day is similar at work. Since there are many different tasks to look after on a day to day basis, the job is very exciting for me! I have always been a part of the logistics industry. I finished my studies in Bremerhaven in the 1990s and began working in this sector. My work with Hövelmann is engaging and keeps me on the go.
I have many different responsibilities in the Haldensleben branch. I have operational duties which involve keeping a close eye of the warehouse operations daily. I have managerial responsibilities that require me to look after my staff and delegate duties. Finally, I am also intensely involved in customer support and management. Some of my additional tasks include acquiring new customers, calculating and planning business with new or existing customers.
Sustainability and The New Silk Road
Q3. Since NSRN focuses on the Belt and Road Initiative, what do you think are the challenges faced by a company like yours when it comes to building a business with China and other regions along the BRI?
Frank: In principle, we work with producers and traders in Hövelmann. Naturally, we believe that the New Silk Road is on an upwards path in terms of expansion. We are looking for qualitative growth when it comes to this initiative. We understand that many companies are working along the Belt and Road Initiative.
However, we are a purely national company; we mostly provide value-added services, such as last-mile delivery or warehousing. Since our focus is mainly on the national scenario, we don’t partake in sea or air freight. For other members in NSRN, we offer the services that I just mentioned and ensure that we provide top-notch facilities, and find the best possible solutions for them.
Q4. As a large part of your company is involved in trucking and warehousing, are there active steps that you incorporate in your company to be sustainable in your operations?
Frank: We are very committed to having a sustainable firm. We understand that trucks are not the most eco-friendly vehicles, but we take multiple steps to cut down our carbon emission. Our fleet is comprised of Euro 6 vehicles that use 22 litres of fuel per 100 km. To give you a perspective, 6 to 7 years ago trucks use about 28 to 30 litres per 100 km. With a fleet of more than a hundred vehicles, we manage to save a lot more fuel over the course of the year.
Moreover, this also helps to cut down the fuel cost. Additionally, we also make sure that driving limit for our drivers is 85 kmph, instead of the German standard of 89 kmph. This helps to save more fuel, and drivers are more relaxed when they reach the destination. We also noticed that this does not affect the driving time.
We also own 20 LNG trucks that help to cut down CO2 emissions. Moreover, we have installed technology that prevents empty mileage and even hired two trainers for drivers to understand driving behaviour by looking at braking and acceleration points. In our warehouses, the roofs are covered with photovoltaic systems, we also have LED and intelligent lighting systems installed, to prevent energy wastage In short, we are committed to having a sustainable firm with a focus on reducing our carbon emissions, as we find the most economical and green solutions for our customers.