New Silk Road Network's (NSRN) founding member, Rieck Holding GmbH & Co.KG is a well established and successful venture in the German logistics market. With its broad reach across the globe, Rieck has the capabilities and experience of many generations. In an interview with Mr Gunnar Mickeleit-Jung, we realized the various services that Rieck offers to its customers and the efforts it makes to sustain business relations with everyone.
Mr Mickeleit-Jung's dedication to promoting Rieck as a global logistics provider was evident with his extensive knowledge of procedural functions of each of its departments. He shared how Rieck pursues to take over the whole supply chain of a product rather than, look after a specific segment of it. Moreover, he shared how Rieck's growing business with B2C sector helped during the coronavirus pandemic.
In conversation with Mr Mickeleit-Jung…
NSRN: Rieck Holding is quite an established company, which has seen significant growth. In the 2000s, Rieck Logistics Group was reorganized and the Rieck Holding was founded. Rieck Holding is responsible for driving the group forward especially for most of the strategic decisions. We would like to know the journey, since then days to now. What is the focus of the company, and what are its future expectations?
Gunnar: We are a family-owned company, and right now, the third and fourth generation of the family members are shareholders and managing partners of the company. We initially started with road transport, and then in the 70s, we established contract logistics. After that, we created Rieck's air and sea cargo department and Rieck disposal logistics. In the last few years, we have built new forwarding terminals, warehouses for fulfilment and also significantly expanded on the waste disposal logistics sector.
We achieved essential milestones through strategic investments, which extend across all our departments. The expansion course was primarily concerned with opening up additional business areas in new locations. To give you a complete idea, in the sea and air freight segment, we have opened additional branches, have established a worldwide network across the world and have also founded an own company in China. We have a strong focus on our customers and network partners. We have had tremendous development and expansion as shareholders and founding members in many international networks.
As Rieck was growing, we established consulting services and an in-house IT department. These units form a part of our core competence now. Today we have a successful and stable group of companies with independent operative business units, controlled and supported by the holding company with the shareholders. For the future, we are looking at digitalisation, which is at the top of our agenda and will bring some revolutionary changes in our set up. We are preparing ourselves for this.
NSRN: What does your day to day entail, and what roles and responsibilities do you take over in Rieck?
Gunnar: I have worked for Rieck since 2004, so it has been 16 years. I started in the sales department, and now I am based in the headquarters in Berlin (Großbeeren). The daily business includes staying in contact with all operations and sales departments. As a member of the Rieck Holding, I take on central tasks such as leading and coordinating key accounts and special projects.
Apart from tender management, I am also responsible for customer projects for the Group. We try to find customer potential to build the whole supply chain. For example, we start from the production unit in China, ship it to Europe in one of our warehouses and finish with the distribution in Europe. We also acquire tenders and try to find suitable customers for the services we offer.
We have many customers who work with several of Rieck's business units which allows us to strategically develop a relationship with them. We have a central contact person in these units who is responsible for the functioning, both within their group and in the daily work with network partners. This has made us a global partner integral to operations for our customers abroad. Furthermore, we also develop and supervise special projects between Asia and Europe. Through cooperation with new network partners, we can develop ourselves continuously. For that reason, we are also part of NSRN, which is an exciting addition to our portfolio.
NSRN: Rieck Holding primarily organises trucking and warehousing for its customer base. Your trucking base is strong in Germany and Europe, and with warehouses in Germany, Netherlands and Czech, your reach is expansive in the region. What other special services are offered, that would significantly help Chinese companies seeking to export to Europe or vice versa?
Gunnar: Rieck has been working in the Chinese market for the past 30 years. In this time we also established our headquarters in Shanghai. We have extensive on-site services, are well networked and very flexible. We also see that there is a high demand for e-commerce solutions. In our Fulfillment Solutions division, we offer extensive and unique services for the online market, including product finishing (engraving, printing and more), packaging highlights, returns check and recycling, end-to-end order transparency and all this with a high level of in-house IT competence.
We receive many requests for goods from China for the European market and vice versa. For Chinese companies, we know that they look for a combination of good service and price, and that is something that we can provide. On the other hand, certain products are sold to Asia by German online retailers, and we provide the logistics basis for them.
In the B2B market, we have special services in procurement logistics, with the coordination of transports throughout Europe. This involves time window control, analysis and selection of appropriate consolidation points, packaging services, overseas transportation to Asia, customs clearance on both sides and JIT deliveries to production.
As a third example, I can mention waste disposal logistics. We operate a disposal terminal in Neuss (Dusseldorf) for all recyclable materials. From there, they are sent all over the world. Not everyone has their own baling press, which is a superior service, and we offer the possibility of adding value in the production of bales ready for sale.
NSRN: New Silk Road Network has a focus of developing a robust network between SMEs along the BRI. Because of a developing Hub and Spoke system in Europe, many trucking companies support these rail hubs. How do you think your company leverages these opportunities?
Gunnar: We do not primarily work with the Hub and Spoke system for rail, but we do offer container transport from China to Duisburg. We pick up the containers from the terminals and conduct the transportation from the consignee or the warehouse. We see the increasing demand for rail, as it is cheaper than air freight and faster than sea freight. We do not use trucking systems for this much, but we do sometimes move containers via rail from Duisburg or Hamburg and so on.
Typically our clients want the containers in our warehouses(Hamburg, Berlin etc.), where we use existing terminals where our containers can arrive. As of now, we see that infrastructure still needs to develop a lot more for this.
NSRN: As the coronavirus pandemic continues in different parts of the world, Germany has now become relatively stable. Were there any significant effects during the lockdown period here? How has the recovery been?
Gunnar: We are back to our normal functioning now, and since we are lucky enough to have a mix of customers both B2B and B2C customers, we managed to have regular daily business and prevented a loss. Of course, this was mostly for transport and contract logistics, but we faced problems like other companies in the air freight business. In the airfreight sector there was a one-sided decline in the number of orders. However, it was possible to compensate this to some extent, primarily through an unexpectedly high demand for products such as masks or hygiene products from the medical sector.
Due to our stable and broad customer base, we have seen minimal impact during the lockdown on land transport and fulfilment. A few years ago, we decided to include B2C as an addition to our B2B portfolio, which helped immensely. During the peak phase of the corona lockdown, the orders and demand shifted from air freight to other sectors, which provided an overall sense of continuity and stability.
Now, we are slowing going towards normal in air freight, but it is still a step by step movement towards 'normal'. Many passenger planes are not flying yet, therefore the capacity and demand is limited . We do not know how long this will continue. As said before, we did have some customers with declining volumes, but there have been customers with increasing business, especially the B2C business. Overall, Rieck has sustained through a diversified business model, and we look forward to more upcoming developments in the future.