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May 2016 – Gone into it

„Gone into it“ – an interview with Henning Bentien

Mr. Bentien, You have been working at Universal Transport for some years. Please give us a sketch of your career so far.

Nearly exactly 10 years ago, in August of 2006, I started my apprenticeship as forwarding agent at Universal Transport. After having finished the apprenticeship in addition I completed a Dual Course of Study as Business Administrator. Subsequently, I was employed at our subsidiary in Eisenhüttenstadt, near Berlin, for about one year, where I particularly increased my professional knowledge in the wind power sector. Since 2012 I work as key account manager in the Hamburg subsidiary and primarily responsible for many wind energy manufacturers. Most recently I am involved in the establishment of our first subsidiary in Africa, more precisely, in Egypt.

Why is Egypt an interesting market? What are the challenges in establishing a new subsidiary?

Egypt is a growing market with huge potential. Namely the implementation of a reliable energy supply and infrastructure form the main focus in order to establish an up-and coming industry. These major projects are accompanied by a multitude of heavy transports.

We opened an office in Cairo. At the moment we have six heavy haulage combinations standing at an own garage including workshop. In the near future a few experienced drivers will come to Cairo to instruct and train the local drivers on site. Also the technical know-how and handling of the difficult trailers is important. At the moment we have five employees.

The branch in Cairo is the first step to the African continent for Universal Transport. To “conquest” of a new country or market isn’t new for the Universal Transport group, because we have branches in Romania, Russia und Turkey. But every country is special and has to be analysed individual. There are also many parallel operations, for example a good deal of work is done on a relationship of trust. I personally travel to Cairo constantly to organize the upcoming procedures with our shareholders in Egypt.

What about the infrastructure and the co-operation with local authorities?

The negotiations with the authorities concerning heavy load transports are conducted a bit differently to what we are accustomed to in Germany. In Europe also every country has got an own system of permit system. For example in Egypt you have to visit the authority personally and asked for the necessary permit. Like we know from Germany already not all oversized and heavy load transports are escorted by police. An escort takes place only on request, of which we as Universal Transport make use of. Additionally, we also employ private escort vehicles.

The roads in Egypt are very well constructed. For certain projects, e. g. for wind park projects in the desert, roads must be paved beforehand, however. But due to intensive preliminary planning this does not affect our activities.

Are there already first projects which are being put into practice by Universal Transport so far?

We have already received several major orders already. As an example, we are transporting heavy load elements for the construction of a power plant. The individual components weigh up to 200 tons. We also receive numerous transport inquiries – everything can be found in these from railed vehicles up to wind power plants.

Egypt is the first step on the African continent for us. We want to expand further, e. g. to Morocco, another very interesting market.