As a family-owned company founded in 1795, Hudig & Veder has faced some crises and survived crazy times. How did we manage to exist and grow in these times? What forms our culture and what will be our focus for the future? Alexis Fontein, CEO of Hudig & Veder shares the vision for the future by starting with the past.
How it all began – The past
Hudig & Veder is originally an ship broker and shipping company, founded in 1795. Back then, it was well-known under the name of Hudig & Blokhuyzen. In 1882 it became a shipping company with the first vessel: ss Echo. Hudig & Veder was officially born. The formal name changed in 1903. “Over time it became clear that we had to focus on being a logistics service provider, a so-called one-stop-shop.” Fontein explains. “Customer questions and demands were increasing. After World War II, we started to transport cargoes to customer locations. Our customers preferred this idea of having a partner in logistics that could serve the entire supply chain. Other parties in the supply chain, for example our customers’ customer, started actively asking us to bring cargoes to their locations as well. We always try to succeed by turning these kinds of challenges into leading-edge solutions. Therefore, we did not hesitate to make this shift by increasing our added value and taking responsibility of the entire chain of movements.”
Who we are today – The present
When times are good, you know one thing for sure: a next crisis will come. And honestly, it always has. One of the key values of Hudig & Veder is continuity. “To be able to survive the storm, you should never forget the long-term focus and goals.” says Fontein. “That is something you will see throughout our organization and processes.” Good times are for creating enough reserves, or as Alexis Fontein says: meat on the bones. A crisis is for using the time to invest in expanding the business and increasing the qualities of facilities and assets. Today the company is focused on bulk goods, with a strong position in minerals, green & calcined petcokes and biomass. “Very consciously and thoroughly, we invested in our business by not expanding the market but through extending our services. We always believed that focusing on what you do best will add more value than trying to be good at everything. This tremendous focus on quality and knowledge has led us to where we are today”, Alexis Fontein explains. “A fine example of extending services is our warehouse in Rotterdam.” Recently Hudig & Veder has built a new warehouse in the Laurenshaven Rotterdam. This warehouse has special features like moving rooftops, the possibility to move walls and to mix cargoes. “This warehouse is a great success and we are considering an extension.” stresses Fontein.
“Besides our key value continuity, we also focus tremendously on expertise”, Fontein continues. “Customers choose Hudig & Veder because we always excel in knowledge and quality of our services. This attitude and service builds trust. We have guaranteed this in many ways. For example, we have started our digitization by building our inhouse IT system that fits perfectly into our processes. All processes are digitalized to enable our staff to work in different departments and serve our customers from A to Z. We train our staff as much as possible. This has a win for both ends. It makes a job far more interesting and it streamlines our processes better. It enlarges a person’s vision on a customer challenge.”
Where we are heading - The future
Before taking a look into the future challenges and plans let’s look at the company’s culture. Hudig & Veder has worked with some of her customers for over 40 years. Such long term partnerships are also visible within the company. Employees stay loyal to the company. For example, a much valued employee has just retired after working for the company for over 50 years. How does Fontein explain this in a time where short jobs and customer cycles are more common? “We are not here for the quick wins, not when it comes to customers or to our beloved staff.” Fontein explains.
“We are not here for the quick wins,
not when it comes to customers or to our beloved staff.”
What will the future hold for Hudig & Veder? “The world is changing. It always is. You never know what the future will bring. What we do know is that we are creating the future today. We certainly are alert on all aspects of the business and we listen. We listen to our customers, the market and to our employees.” Fontein continuous: “We see the changes in the market and anticipate on these changes. And when it comes to having a job in 2020, people want to be involved. They want to know what is going on and where the company is heading to. That fits perfectly with our key value ‘open and honest’. Take COVID-19 as an example. What this crisis has taught us is that the office place is more than just a working space. It is a place where people meet and connect with each other, where they share knowledge and socialize with each other. Not just simply spend their entire day working.” explains Alexis Fontein.
Of course there are challenges ahead. “As elaborate as this story could be, I like to be short on our challenges” says Fontein. “We face exactly the same challenges as the rest of the market, such as digitization, renewable energies and sustainability. Every day we do the best we can to face these challenges and keep on increasing our added value for our customers. With innovations shown, we prove that we are continuously investing in improving our offer. In services, but also in cooperation with various partners in the chain such as clients and manufacturers. For Hudig & Veder we will focus on growth, people and optimizing our processes with our ABC-concept. All for one mission: unburdening our customer. I look forward to seeing how this world and this company will develop.”