“Venlo has everything it needs to remain a key player in the logistics landscape”
Fred Spijksma is managing director at GEBA Trans and talks in this interview about his company and the future of logistics. Logistics company GEBA Trans has been organising transport by rail, water and road for 25 years and has branches in Venlo and Tilburg.
What are your focal points in logistics?
Many logistics companies focus on warehousing, transport and supply chain management. We have consciously chosen not to do that and just to focus on transport. We are not transporters, but freight forwarders. Transporters have a certain number of vehicles at their disposal that are geared to a certain volume. If there are real peaks, then a traditional carrier would have difficulty scaling up. Because of our large network, we have unlimited cargo capacity with our own vehicles as backup.
We organise transport by rail, water or road for our customers. We started with transport to the German-speaking countries of Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Over the years, this has expanded to include the whole of Europe. With 35 employees, we are a relative small company, but we have the commitment and personal approach towards our customers that large companies often cannot offer.
To what extent are you distinctive within the industry?
We distinguish ourselves by our good service, personal approach and fulfilling our agreements. We strive to deliver at least 99% on time. We have been measuring this since 2003 and every year we end up around 99%. That is a very high score for this industry. Because we fulfil our agreements, our customers are also in a stronger position. For instance, an important customer of ours delivers toilet paper in the Benelux. It is important that these deliveries are on time. By working with us, the customer can deliver 99.4% of their deliveries on time. As a result, the customer holds a strong position in the annual price negotiations with its own clients.
To what extent has the transport market changed in recent years?
The international transport market has undergone major changes in recent decades with the emergence of Eastern European drivers and carriers. Not only do they have a different calculation method; they also celebrate all Christian holidays. The drivers go home on Christian holidays, which creates a big capacity problem in the market. At GEBA Trans, thanks to our large network and our own cars, we can fulfil our agreements with customers 365 days a year. That’s a real difference from the many competitors who can’t manage in those difficult periods. However, it also means that we consciously take losses in peak moments. It is important that at the end of the year the relationship with our customer generates profits. We look at our business from a relational and not a transactional perspective.
What role does sustainability play at GEBA Trans?
We cannot commit to more sustainable trucks ourselves, but we do make sure that our partners use Euro-6 trucks. Moreover, we ensure that a truck does not return empty from its destination. That way, we are sustainable. A few years ago, we won the Lean & Green Award for a sustainable transport model.
How do you see the future of Venlo as a logistics hotspot?
Venlo has an excellent position in terms of infrastructure. There are waterways and motorways in the north-south axis and the east-west corridor, although the A67 should be widened. Venlo has everything it needs to remain a key player in the logistics landscape.
However, the parking problem could be improved. If you build large logistics halls around Venlo, you also need to provide sufficient accommodation for drivers to spend the night. The drivers are bound by the Travel Time Act and the European Commission has decided that they can no longer spend the night in their own cabin. The drivers are very attached to their own lorries and do not want to spend the night in a dingy hotel. They would rather have adequate facilities such as good and sufficient parking areas, free showers and washing facilities, eating establishments and small supermarkets.
What kind of employees do you employ and who are you looking for?
We are looking for a wide range of staff. We are currently making a shift from traditional freight forwarding, for which you need a lot of people with intermediate vocational education, to digitalisation, for which we need more people with university or higher vocational education. Moreover, there are no real training courses for road hauliers. That is why we have been training our own people for several years at the GEBA Academy, together with the Transport College. We have trainees from the Gilde Transport & Logistics training college, and hbo trainees who are working on a specific research assignment. But soft skills are also very important in our recruitment policy. We look at people’s hobbies: do they play sports and at what level? It reflects someone’s assertiveness.