"Everything will stay exactly the same for our customers" - Carsten Hellmers, CEO
On January 1, 2014, Alexander Global Logistics reestablished itself as an independent corporation, buying back the 33% stake of the company from their US-based shareholder. As part of the change, shareholders Carsten Hellmers, president and CEO, and Monique Geisler, executive vice president, will now be the sole owners of the German company. Alexander Global Logistics will continue its cooperation on the basis of an agency relationship with their partners in North America. "We will be working together in this key market exactly as we have in the past," said Hellmers.
Customers will experience no difference in Alexander's day-to-day operations. There will be no organizational changes and all the contact individuals for the company will remain the same. Nor will there be any change to the company's array of services it provides. "We intend to consolidate on our position as a strong provider in our niche areas," said Hellmers, "building on the expertise we have accumulated over the years to strategically grow our core business." Alexander will continue its specialization in forest products logistics throughout Europe, Brazil, North America and Asia, for worldwide project cargo transport, and the specific logistics demands of the Turkish market.
In addition to the new name, Alexander has introduced a revamped corporate logo and adopted a new slogan: "Locally based - Globally connected." Keeping its headquarters in Bremen, the goal of the rebranding is to improve the company's distinctive market position with a unique portfolio of business segments. "The new name demonstrates our commitment to the city of Bremen and our own Hanseatic values," said Hellmers, "and also reflects our global relationship with our customers and business partners."
Founded in 2006 by Hellmers and Geisler, V. Alexander International Logistics began with the opportunity to bring a new name to the forest products industry. The German-based company was also able to market its services throughout North America and other parts of the world through an initial partnership. Hellmers and Geisler shared control of the company's operations from their Bremen office.
Alexander grew quickly and opened offices in Brazil, Russia, India, Mongolia and China, alongside with the German headquarters. As Alexander diversified its operations, it developed new business fields in general cargo and specialty project cargo. Although still primarily specializing in forest products, project cargo has become a growing part of Alexander's operations over the last few years.
Ironically, there is another small German-based company that works also in project cargo, one that is also headquartered in Bremen and with a very similar name to V. Alexander. While Alexander had established itself as a worldwide brand, some confusion began to emerge in the German project cargo market. With its project cargo business growing, Alexander needed to make it clear to the market that there were two separate companies. "We came to the conclusion that we were going to have to change our name," said Hellmers, "to make sure we looked separate in the market, but still had a connection to the brand ‘Alexander'."
Slogan says it all
While some company's rebranding efforts are intended to establish a new identity for different markets or ventures, Alexander's remarkably small change in the name of the company, as well as leaving "Alexander" as a main part of the new brand, were intentional. "Everything will stay the way that it is," said Hellmers. "What has changed is really only the shareholding due to the name rights from our partners in North America. There is no change in the business or staff," emphasized Hellmers. "Not a single change is done on the other business aspects for the company."
A new name also meant the opportunity for a new logo and slogan. Hellmers and Geisler chose "Locally based - Globally connected", a slogan that they say highlights their commitment to Bremen as their headquarters, a reminder of where they started, and their focus on being a worldwide logistics provider.
"Over the years, we started to build our own network," said Hellmers. "We have started offices in São Paulo, Brazil; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Qingdao, China. These are our main business areas when it comes to pulp and paper. And we believe the new slogan illustrated what we are doing in that market. We are strong here, where we are based. But we are also globally connected."
The new logo appears to tie all these elements together. Based on the letter "A", the rounded circle visualizes a sail with a global around it, calling to attention the core focus on global logistics for the company. The name "Alexander" is also heavily prominent in the new branding to build on the success that the company has enjoyed in the pulp and paper industry since it's beginning.
Pulp remains core focus
Forest products still represents at least 60% of Alexander's turnover, an enviable position for the company given the recent turns by the industry. However, Hellmers is quick to point out that the growth in forest products is limited due to the market itself. "In Europe, many companies have shut down production where it was not workable to produce profitable numbers," said Hellmers. "We wanted to expand our activities into other business fields."
For Alexander, moving into project cargo has helped it become a more sustainable company. Project cargo is now one of their niches, as Hellmers calls them, and a market that is well suited to the strengths of Alexander. "Project cargo requires a lot of know-how," explained Hellmers, "and know-how requires the people and the staff who can find solutions in a special market." Because the company drew on their expertise as a logistics provider for the specialty markets for pulp and paper, Alexander has seen quick success in the project cargo space, allowing it open an office in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Alexander is also part of the Project Cargo Network (PCN), a special agency network for medium-sized companies who work together to find solutions for project cargo.
Despite the growth in project cargo, pulp and paper will continue to be a core part of Alexander's business. Market demand and changes to the global forest products market have altered the company's forest products cargo mix, but there are still plenty of pulp and paper grades that require specialized handling and logistics.
"If we look back, we have been very active with big volumes since we started in publishing papers and newsprint," said Hellmers. "If I look at today, we all know the market how the market has changed. We are more into graphic papers and packaging papers. But we still handle large volumes of pulp."
The company's offices in South America represent the near-term future for forest products cargo, as large volumes of paper pulp, fluff and dissolving pulp will characterize the southern hemisphere for the next few years, if not decades. The Asia, Europe and North America markets have their own set of demands, and a longer-term future for the industry could hold remarkable promise. In those offices around the globe, the familiar name of Alexan