Alessandro Cacciola on 2020 in the Andreas Schmid Group.
How strongly was this year impacted by the corona pandemic?
Particularly during the early phase, the COVID-19 pandemic presented us with a great many unanswered questions. Back in January, we at the Andreas Schmid Group had no idea what would be in store for us as the year wore on. However, by rigorously adhering to a strict hygiene concept we managed to overcome the initial obstacles of the pandemic quite well. As the safety of our colleagues always takes the highest priority for us as a company, particularly in the current phase we adapted our activities to meet the constantly changing challenges and attempted to keep the risk as low as possible.
Thanks to our digitised corporate concept, however, we swiftly succeeded in relocating parts of our team to working remotely from their homes. This strategy has enabled us to maintain a maximum of customer service with a minimum risk of infection. Luckily for us, we had the advantage that Quentia, our Group’s IT systems house, is an absolute expert in this field. In the industrial sectors, too, where “working from home” is not possible, we constantly adapted our processes to meet the current hygiene regulations in order to minimise the risk of infection.
However, one thing I must say quite plainly: it is our loyal people who are getting us through these difficult times and without them nothing would be possible. Despite the current challenges, our staff members are fully committed to and passionate about helping our customers and the company to “keep the business moving”. I have the greatest respect for their dedi-cation and, especially in these difficult times, I would like to thank everyone once again most emphatically and sincerely.
And the market?
The Andreas Schmid Group is very broadly based and serves customers of varying sizes from numerous industries. As a result, revenue losses in certain sectors have so far been largely offset by additional business coming in from other industries. For instance, the increased popularity of online commerce has compensated for comparatively low demand coming from the automotive industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has generally exposed weaknesses in supply chains and underlines once again how important it is to have emer-gency strategies in place.
As a mediumsized enterprise we are agile, have the ability to respond swiftly to changing market situations and offer our customers flexible solutions, even in these turbulent times.
How does the current pandemic relate to the trend towards globalisation?
These days, commerce is conducted worldwide and not only the number of business trips, but also private trips to distant countries are constantly in-creasing. The latter is certainly a plausible reason why the virus was able to spread as quickly as it did. Looking at supply chains worldwide, it is easy to recognise that an increase in globalisation is often accompanied by growing dependencies. In order to achieve optimisations and greater efficiency, processes in many fields are distributed and interlinked across the entire planet. In these times of global value networks it is essential that supply chains remain sufficiently resilient. Only then can it be ensured that goods continue to flow in crisis situations, that the availability of consumer products remains guaranteed and that raw materials as well as semi-finished products can also be processed in the manufacturing plants.
Although we are highly unlikely to see an end to globalisation, I am convinced that there will be a rethink, at least in certain respects. I anticipate that companies will increasingly start manufacturing certain products themselves again going forward, or at least build up some safety stocks. Moreover, supplier management is again likely to focus to a greater extent on diversification in order not to become overly dependent on individual suppliers and regions. At the latest since the outbreak of the pandemic, logistics has gained greatly in recognition and is now classified as being systemically relevant.
What is your attitude towards this development?
On the one hand, I’m happy to see that the essential importance of logistics is being recognised. On the other hand it is a great shame that we needed a crisis of this magnitude to make people more aware of the importance of our occupation and its relevance. Logistics usually works very much in the background and is only really noticed when something goes wrong for some reason.
People take it for granted that goods of all kinds are constantly available, but are annoyed, for example, by the number of trucks on the highways or the warehouse around the corner – something the logistics sector and all its employees, who ensure a reliable supply every day, have done nothing to deserve. At the Andreas Schmid Group we are highly aware of our key role and take our work very seriously. We take on responsibility every day and are proud to play our part in providing for society.
Apart from the coronavirus crisis, what else did the Andreas Schmid Group focus on this year?
We managed to make considerable progress in a number of areas – for instance, we established a new location in Ingolstadt, expanded our European network and commissioned a new contract logistics location in Prague. From a systems point of view, it is certainly worth mentioning that we have begun implementing a new Customer Relationship Management system as well as a Warehouse Management System. Moreover, we have largely switched our server-based systems to cloud solutions.
The introduction of an innovation management system has also enabled us to collaborate on generating ideas within the company and thus continuously strive for improvement. We want to look beyond the horizon and continually question the status quo – and of course our customers also stand to benefit from this development.
What makes the Andreas Schmid Group special – both today and in the future?
As our company name »Andreas Schmid Group« underlines, we see the various parts of our company as one single unit. We work together closely and maintain a culture of mutual cooperation. Our customers also benefit greatly from our in-house synergy effects, which are reflected in the exceptional service we provide. The Andreas Schmid Group meanwhile offers groupage freight for-warding including the shipping units, contract logistics, has its own IT systems house, an innovation lab, an advertising agency and provides personnel services.
This enables us to offer customised solutions that extend far beyond conventional shipping or warehousing services. In addition, we ensure the long-term corporate success of our customers by providing a wide range of consulting services. We are modern, dynamic and full of enthusiasm for what we do.
What are the objectives of the Andreas Schmid Group in the foreseeable future?
We have already taken the first steps towards broadening our base, but we do not want to simply rest on our laurels. We therefore intend to maintain our diversification strategy and continue to expand both nationally and internationally throughout the coming year. We will also continue to replace manual processes with digital ones, thereby making our company even more competitive and fit to tackle the challenges of the future. Another of our objectives is to position ourselves more attractively as an employer. Apart from providing a state-of-the-art working environment in line with Work 4.0 standards, the systematic advancement of our colleagues is a key factor in our plans. With these points in mind, we will be reorganising our HR management as of January 2021.
We also intend to expand our range of services, i.e. we want to continue broadening our offer in the fields of e-commerce, point of sale and value added services. We intend to inspire both new and existing customers with market-driven product design and outstanding service.
About Andreas Schmid Group
The Andreas Schmid Group is a leading expert for customised logistics solutions in Germany and abroad. Since 1928, the family-owned company from Gersthofen near Augsburg has focused on the sustainable success of its customers and is today considered a pioneer for the logistics of tomorrow. With 1,600 employees, the Andreas Schmid Group operates 260,000 m² of logistics space at over 30 locations in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. With its own Innovation Lab, a creative agency and a personnel service provider, the Group’s portfolio goes far beyond classic transport and logistics services – in line with the motto #logisticsbeyond.
For more information, visit www.andreas-schmid.de.