Insight 01: Freight forwarder through and through

Since 1 February 2023, an additional CEO has joined MBS Holding to work alongside Daniel Steckel: Joerg Roehl (53). In this interview with insight, Joerg explores MBS’s vision and projects – as well as shares a few personal details along the way. 

Joerg Roehl MBS Logistics

insight: Two CEOs at one company is rather unusual. Why is this the case at MBS?

Joerg Roehl: MBS is very diversified, but the company works with flat structures, without a lot of bureaucracy. This is why each CEO is assigned various operational areas. For me, for example, these areas are air and sea freight, Asia-Pacific and some German branches. This structure means our management team can remain very close to the business and its customers.

insight: You have been part of the MBS family for about three months. What motivated you to make the switch to MBS?

Joerg: MBS is a very agile, privately owned company with a growth strategy that complements my previous career experience. I have known the shareholders here for 20 years. I also appreciate flat hierarchies; I don’t like to lose touch with the needs of employees and customers.

insight: What has your career looked like so far?

Joerg: I learned the ropes at Fr. Meyer’s Sohn in Düsseldorf. Later, I held various leadership positions at Kuehne & Nagel International, Geis Cargo, Bolloré Logistics, Agility Logistics and Hansa Heavy Lift, among others. Most recently, I was CEO at Natco/Trans Global Projects in Switzerland.

insight: What makes you a fit for your role at MBS?

Joerg: I’m more of a doer than an academic, and I have always been an all-rounder. This fits well with MBS’s hands-on approach. At the same time, I have a lot of experience in areas that align with MBS’s growth plans.

insight: And how did it all start for you?

Joerg: My mother used to work at the Association of the Forwarding and Logitstics Industry (editor’s note: Verband Spedition und Logistik) in Düsseldorf and talked a lot about freight transport and logistics at home. I’m still fascinated by the many facets of this profession.

insight: Let’s look into the future. What challenges do you see logistics companies facing in the next ten years?

Joerg: The challenges are already here. I see three main areas we need to focus on: First, digitisation of processes and the selection of suitable transport management systems. We need to be able to communicate with our customers at eye level – and this also includes mutual data exchange with compatible systems. Second, MBS must continue to become even more attractive as an employer, not just for potential new trainees and colleagues, but especially for current members of the MBS family. Third, freight forwarders play a critical role in our world, which was made clear during the Corona pandemic. But a negative image continues to cling to the industry. We should continue to explore how we can change this.

insight: Has anything else drastically changed in our industry since Corona?

Joerg: Unfortunately, no. We are in a very similar situation as before Corona. The price war is back, and paying for service and quality has again taken a back seat. I expect the situation to continue throughout the course of this year, if not become more extreme.

insight: Despite all the challenges, you share MBS wants to grow. Where and why?

Joerg: This touches on several areas of my responsibility. We seek to grow our air and sea freight business in the Asia-Pacific region as well as expand into Switzerland, where we are not yet represented. We want to grow organically and follow the business. Where viable opportunities arise, we will analyse the situation and take the necessary steps to position ourselves for success. In addition, expanding into the project logistics sector would also be interesting for us, and this is an area where I bring experience.

insight: Can you share more about your plans in the Asia-Pacific region?

Joerg: We are currently in the process of opening a branch in South Korea. We already have offices in China, Vietnam and Singapore, and we are considering opportunities in Japan. We also see strong opportunities in Southeast Asia with the expansion of our activities in Singapore.

insight: Nowadays, is growth a necessity or a privilege for a freight forwarder?

Joerg: Neither. If growth is strategically planned, and there is the right opportunity for it, there is a chance to make the company more competitive. If growth is not the business’s focus, a freight forwarder can survive without it. I am certain that alongside broadly positioned freight forwarders like MBS, small specialists will continue to do well in the future if they keep their customers in mind. Exceptional expertise and personal service are always appreciated by clients.

insight: What is most important to you in your relationships with customers?

Joerg: A strong partnership, meeting at eye level and mutual trust. Above all, we are a service provider. Our expertise allows us to develop innovative solutions for customers’ supply chain challenges. That is crucial.

insight: You have three children. You are a passionate golfer and cook. You like to travel and are currently renovating a few rooms at home. How does this all fit with your new job at MBS Holding?

Joerg: My two older sons are already out of the house and are studying in Vienna and Heidelberg. Our little daughter is only 2 ½, and she keeps us on our toes. With my family’s home base still being in Zurich and my main business activities being in Cologne, hobbies and personal life often fall by the wayside right now. Therefore, I’m focusing on jogging for physical activity. I always have my running shoes with me, and this hobby is possible almost everywhere and anytime.