Why we´re both small and big enough – and how Röhlig perfectly combines the best of both worlds

Does it matter whether a logistics company is owner-operated or not? Is it an advantage when the owner family also works in the operational business? This is something I always get asked. Because at first glance, many people think it doesn’t matter when it comes to successful cooperation. I see it differently: a big, global presence and the corporate structure are two things that have a huge impact on the operational business of our family-run logistics company – and it’s a positive one. I want to tell you exactly how below:

By Philip W. Herwig, Managing Partner at Röhlig Logistics

If you’re big, you can’t forget that you also need to be close

I often note that many people in big and small companies appreciate it when they are able to talk with decision-makers in logistics companies directly and in a personal way. This simply doesn’t happen in many big logistics companies: if customers are ‘just a number’ – even if this phrase sometimes sounds trite – people are put off. I also see it that way. That’s why not treating our customers like they’re just a number is a question of our business attitude. Here, our international network isn’t a barrier – it allows us to be as close to our customers as possible, locally.

The service of a small logistics company and the performance of a big logistics company belong together

Our organisational structure is open enough for us to be close to our customers and big enough to allow us to master global logistics challenges: this sentence always crops up at Röhlig. And we’re all on board with it. But what does it mean exactly?

Whilst very small companies are often unable to cover the entire range of logistics services, or don’t have the required capacity, big logistics companies are often missing the personal touch that goes right up to the management level. And sometimes even that is missing. As a global family business, we offer both. Because it’s the size of a company and its strategic presence on all continents in over 30 countries that determine how closely logistical processes can be successfully coordinated. Our employees are on the ground and have in-depth knowledge of the local market. At the same time, all levels of the company – up to management – are involved in the processes and can be contacted. That’s how we guarantee short decision paths.

Comparatively, Röhlig Logistics is smaller than the big companies – and bigger than the small ones. Which is how we offer the best of both worlds.

Philip W. Herwig, Managing Partner at Röhlig Logistics

It’s not a coincidence, but rather the result of strategic decisions. Because of course we ask ourselves how we want to grow, and in which directions we can develop further as a logistics service provider. Here, digitalisation implies that many standard processes will be more impersonal but more efficient. We make sure to give the ‘people’ factor as much importance as it needs in our processes and when dealing with customers, particularly for orders that need close coordination. We also very much appreciate that some customers don’t need that. And that’s also completely okay. We look after each customer and each delivery on an individual level. Customers can be safe in the knowledge that they are looked after as personally as they want – whilst still receiving the professional logistics services they expect.


Logistics companies have to be able to act extremely flexibly at all times

Our employees can act especially flexibly because we, as an owner-operated logistics company, make sure all coordination processes are fast and unbureaucratic. It’s clear that we have internal guidelines and goals that we want to achieve. And we focus on achieving these goals with an eye for a commercial and professional business eye. But we don’t think in terms of quarterly report to quarterly report, from AGM to AGM, nor in terms of decisions or delays linked to contractual terms.

Family businesses make big strategic decisions in the medium to long-term. Not all decisions necessarily need to have a short-term results-based effect. We don’t see every micro-step with our rate-of-return goggles on, which is why we are able to apply customer requirements easily. The overall result is what matters. We are happy only when our customers are happy and when our customers’ customers are too.

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If you know your customers, you can push forward digital developments in close collaboration with them

Medium-sized logistics companies like us know their customers very well and often on a personal level. That’s why they often know better when it comes to the actual developments customers need. We have experienced this in particular with respect to digital transformation, where we consulted our customers in advance when the topic was introducing new tools – or we simply listened closely  when discussing these matters.

Through its subsidiary Röhlig blue-net, Röhlig Logistics develops IT solutions that put companies ahead even further: quick quotation tools, options to track consignments in real time and integrated custom interfaces that allow customers to work in their preferred system environment.

Trust is the basis for business transactions – and it applies to logistics companies, too

Personal trust is the basis for any long-term business relationship. This applies to the internal side of a company – and it also applies to the relationship between a company and its customers. We develop permanent employee and business relationships through trust-based partnerships. This is advantageous for customers because our contact partners, with their well-established expertise, often support customers for many years. And a solid partnership pays off because in logistics unforeseeable events can happen time and again. Having a contact partner who keeps you constantly updated and who can also efficiently solve complex situations is an advantage.

"We are only happy when our customers’ customers are happy."

Philip W. Herwig, Managing Partner at Röhlig Logistics

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