German logistics company DACHSER GmbH & Co KG was founded in 1930 by Thomas Dachser. By 2013 it had mushroomed globally to nearly 25,000 staff in 471 locations which produce nearly €5 billion in annual sales from nearly 70 million annual shipments. Increasingly Finland has come under the spotlight. Tuomas Leimio (TL), Managing Director, Dachser Finland Oy, explains why to Joanne Murray (JM).
JM: Am I right in thinking that, to cover the Finnish market more comprehensively and to increase its presence in Northern Europe, Dachser bought a majority stake in Finnish company Waco Oy and then partnered with Estonian company ACE Logistics Group? Why use acquisitions and partnerships to tackle the Nordics/Baltics and not establish a new Dachser operation yourself?
TL: Dachser does not have a dogmatic approach when starting operations in a market. As a customer-oriented, service-driven company, Dachser is looking for the solution that brings the most value to its customers: this can be via 100% Dachser-owned companies, joint ventures, or trusted, long-term partnerships. What they all have in common, however, is seamless integration into the international Dachser network of branch offices, connection to Dachser’s highly integrated IT systems, and commitment to Dachser’s set of values as a family-owned company.
With regard to Oy Waco Finland, your information is not quite correct; Dachser was a founding member of the air & sea logistics freight forwarder Oy Waco Finland, which was established in 1996 by leading members of the WACO organization and three local Finnish shareholders. In 2013, Dachser acquired the majority shareholding, with one joint partner remaining (Nishitetsu Railroad NNR, Japan). Oy Waco Finland changed its name to Dachser Finland Air & Sea Logistics Oy on October 1, 2014. Dachser operates successful air & sea logistics joint ventures in Germany and Hungary with the same partner.
For the launch of its overland transport activities, Dachser teamed up with the ACE Logistics Group, which has been its partner in the Baltic countries for over 15 years. Dachser Finland Oy offers all advantages of tight integration into the European Dachser network: seamless IT systems, uniform performance and quality standards, fixed timeframes, and a tightly meshed network of branch offices throughout all of Europe.
JM: Why is this Nordic/Baltic market worth the investment you are making? What types of freight/shippers/routes are you targeting and why is now the right time to invest?
TL: Both Europe and the entire world are becoming increasingly connected in many ways, particularly from a logistics point of view. The whole logistics market in Europe is quite fragmented compared to North America, for example. Our customers are looking for a provider who has a real presence in every European country and delivers the same high level of quality everywhere. The timing is, of course, important, but usually during tougher economic times, companies are looking for new ways of serving their customers as well as new markets.
JM: Are you truly multi-modal in the Finnish market, engaging with the air, sea, and land markets, or is Finland more of a trucking operation for you?
TL: Not only overland transport but air & sea logistics are available on the Finnish market. Dachser Finland Air & Sea Logistics Oy has a total of four branch offices in Finland. Under the leadership of CEO Juha Isohanni, it has had a good track record in the last three years and positive results. This positive development has ranked them as one of the top six players in Finland in air & sea logistics. By connecting Finland to the Dachser European Logistics network with its 256 branches in 22 countries, we are able to serve our customers with fully integrated services that include land, air, and sea. It’s true that Finland is a highly competitive market, but at the same time, it also has great potential. We are convinced that Dachser has something new to add to the Finnish logistics market as we have done in many other countries as well.
JM: To what extent do you serve the Russian market via Finland? Does Russia and its import/export needs influence your investment decisions for the Nordics/Baltics?
TL: That is not our primary objective. Dachser has a joint venture in Russia that is concentrating on air & sea logistics and also provides comprehensive truck loading and warehousing services as part of Dachser Cargoplus. Dachser Finland Oy, however, is focused on connecting the Finnish market to Dachser’s pan-European groupage network, the company’s primary business.
JM: Presumably there are Northern European hubs through which you operate? If so, please would you point out the networks that include a Finnish hub?
TL: Today, we have on average more than 8000 shipments via Dachser Finland each month giving us great possibilities for developing our operations here in Finland. The daily connections from Germany, Scandinavia, Poland, and the Netherlands offer daily access to and from Finland’s most important trade markets.
JM: To what extent does Helsinki figure in the movement of perishables from Dachser’s perspective? What does this freight comprise?
TL: Dachser Finland Oy is concentrating on the transport of industrial goods within the Dachser European Logistics network. When it comes to international, temperature-controlled food transports, Dachser is cooperating with partner Thomsen Spedition within a recently established alliance called the “European Food Network”. While Dachser is system leader within the alliance, 12 partners in 21 European countries have committed themselves to the same standards concerning processes, IT, and quality so they can offer their clients uniform “vivengo” products for their international food transports.
JM: Is Finland’s logistics infrastructure (roads, rail, airports, ports) appropriate for your operations or is there something you would like to see improved?
TL: When one considers that—from a logistics point of view—Finland is an island where over 95% of shipments depart by air or by sea, the importance of ports and airports is clear. To make it possible for Finnish export companies to gain more market share, they need to find ways to cut the one to two days of lead time, and they have to provide the same or better service than their competitors. This is possible by offering high-quality logistics services and by decreasing the total cost of logistics with better turnaround times at the warehouse to keep processes lean.
JM: How important are Dachser’s IT systems to the successful movement of freight and is the Finnish operation already IT-enabled?
TL: IT systems are as important as moving the goods physically in order to make top quality shipments as efficient and transparent as possible. Like all of Dachser European Logistics branch offices, Dachser Finland uses Domino, Dachser’s self-developed, integrated transport management system. Using barcode scanning, data is collected throughout the entire process and used for comprehensive tracking and tracing by way of our eLogistics online tools.
JM: What’s next for the Finnish operation? What are your aspirations, targets, and expectations?
TL: Currently, we are ramping up operations with existing customers in Finland. We are keeping a close eye on processes, quality, etc. Once everything is in place, we will need to develop a consistent brand presence in Finland so that the international road market will get a clear picture of what Dachser stands for.