Mr. Dechant, Mr. Webersberger, two years ago, Universal Transport (UT) and Züst & Bachmeier Project GmbH (Z & B) decided to work together. Are you still content with your decision?
Dechant: I can answer that with a clear yes. The acquisition of Z & B was a real stroke of luck for the Universal Transport Group. Back then we were looking for a project forwarder to expand our portfolio. The fact that we got together with Z & B was a coincidence.
Webersberger: That’s right – at the same time we were looking for a company that would carry on Z & B with our ideas and visions after my co-partners and mine inevitable retirement. We came together by luck. I can say that it was a perfect fit from the beginning, especially from the human side, which is incredibly important to us. And after two years, we can say that expectations have met on both sides.
How did you benefit from each other?
Dechant: My motto is: who claims to be capable of everything, can’t do everything right. Therefore, everyone should focus on their strengths to achieve the best result together.
For example, if a customer asks if we can bring his trams to Bremen to the harbor, I can now say with a good conscience that we can even take the trains overseas to their destination. But this is only possible because we have an experienced project forwarder like Z & B on our side, which has probably moved almost all kinds of project cargo around the globe. This is also known to our potential customers by now and has a positive impact on the number of inquiries.
Webersberger: On the other hand, for the first time, Z & B can use an existing fleet and equipment. This gives us more flexibility and makes us more independent in special situations.
Dechant: However, it should not give the impression that we only use our subsidiary now. The aim of the acquisition was not to displace competitors or not to consider orders – quite the opposite. We always act rationally and economically. If Universal Transport or Z & B receives a request, it will not automatically be the other one’s turn. If the task can be realized in the best possible way with third party companies, they will get the contract. However, in the past two years we have successfully completed various projects together.
Webersberger: As mentioned at the beginning, it is very reassuring to know that due to our solidarity there is kind of a back-up option if a planned company fails in the short term.
The acquisition of a company and the associated integration is often a long-term process. Where are you currently?
Webersberger: Our initial feeling that we fit together well proofed right. I would say that we have completed 95 percent integration. It is important to mention that this process has taken and still takes place at eye level. Of course there are sometimes different opinions but after lively and constructive discussions we have always come to a satisfactory result for all involved. Our employees also see that – the fluctuation in the last two years has been close to zero.
Dechant: Our aim was not to impose our systems and processes on Z & B at any cost. Our plan was to compare the two sides and where it makes sense, unify the processes.
Which challenges are still to overcome?
Dechant: There is still potential for the important issue of digitization. However, the first steps have been taken and we are confident that we will continue to develop our systems together in the future.
Webersberger: I see the challenges less internally than externally. Due to the ailing infrastructure – especially roads and bridges – we face a traffic collapse if we do not react. We agree that the traffic must be broken down if possible. This means that transport routes are to be handled multimodally over several modes of transport in order to achieve relief. We want to follow this idea and, for example, expand our logistics center in the “Bayernhafen Nürnberg”. At the same time, this would increase our catchment area, which would mean a diversification of our contracts. Now, our main business in the heavy-duty logistics center is the loading of transformers. For example, we are responsible for the entire transport chain for the most powerful HVDC transformers worldwide to China (editor’s note: practical report in this newsletter).
Dechant: I would like to pick up on the point of diversification of industries and customers. If we want to be successful on the market in the long term, we must not rely on one industry, one customer or one country or region, and last but not least, one employee. One example is the booming wind energy business in recent years, which is being slowed down by changing political conditions. We can feel that, but we can cushion it with many other mainstays. We will tackle these challenges together in the Universal Transport Group in the future.