C.E.R.L. – France

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Interview with

Mrs. Maria Nouveau

Deputy Managing Director


Firstly, Maria, I see that you come from Austria. How did you end up in logistics in France? It must mean that, amongst other qualities, you speak French?

Indeed, I was born in Austria and fell in love with France while I was working as an au-pair girl in Paris thirty-five years ago. Later when an Austrian haulier offered me a temporary job in Lyon, France, I immediately accepted. So, I was working for their agent in France (Danzas), where I met Georges, my husband. Well, you know how love is, I never left France again. So indeed, I speak French (it’s much better than my German now).


Tell us about the company history of C.E.R.L.? Who owns the company?

C.E.R.L. was established in 1987 by Georges’s father, Jacques Nouveau, and Georges bought the company from his father in 1996. I joined in 2003 and today C.E.R.L. is now fully owned by both of us. Our eldest son Olivier joined the company a year ago and we hope he will take activities over in a few years.

France is a major global trading partner with overseas countries and the country has many current and ex-territories abroad. Can you let us know whether you are just active in specific areas for project cargo or if you accept deliveries to/from anywhere?

Indeed, our country is still a major global trading partner. We are active across the entirety of France, while we are not active in territories abroad.

Please tell us about the competition in France nowadays in your field of business. Are times difficult?

Competition is getting harder every day regarding project cargo in France. The decreasing business and the increasing number of ‘project forwarders’ make times difficult. Many general cargo forwarders step into the project cargo field with low rates, but with only experience in general cargo. Competition from forwarders in other European or even overseas countries is giving us a hard time maintaining our business and position in the market.

What are the advantages that you believe C.E.R.L. can offer in the market?

The advantages that small companies like C.E.R.L. are offering include proactivity and very good service. The more the big companies are here, the more Taylorism and individuals can lose sight of the project as a whole. In order to fulfil our job, we have to contact all departments within the company, as well as the suppliers, manufacturers and vendors that enable us to put the puzzle together, make things happen and report to the individuals, giving them recognition.

Furthermore, the fact that all our employees knows each customer by name and are able to answer questions and give technical advice strengthens our position.

Has freight forwarding changed in your view in the recent years? If so, what are the major changes?

From my point of view, freight forwarding has changed a lot these last years through globalization, the internet and mergers of shipping lines etc.

When I started the business, it was tricky to find overseas partners and get information quickly, nobody expected to get a reply immediately and people accepted that a good job takes time. Whenever you had an issue, you picked up your phone, talked to the person in charge, discussed it and found a solution. Transport was handled by a logistics manager and you worked with skilled people.

Nowadays everybody can get information via their mobile phones without delay and customers expect the same from you. Today, you don’t talk to people anymore, but you text, use Whatsapp or Snapchat etc. and many things are virtual. Transports are handled by purchasers without any knowledge, only looking for low rates.

Could you provide us with some examples of project cargoes that you have handled?

Please see the following examples of shipments we’ve handled recently. Some of them are still ongoing.

One press body, 147t, 9,92 x 5.50 x 3.68m from France to Canada
Shelters – 13.75 x 3.95 x 3.75 m – 37t each from France to United Kingdom
Crushers: 1170 cbm, 264 t in total – crushers from Europe to Burkina Faso
Half gear and accessories on flat rack from France to Egypt
Six bundles of chains – total 435tons, from Busan to Lima, Peru
Forty-five abnormal loads up to 5m wide & 5m high and 350 trucks – papermill relocation in France

Do you belong to any networks currently and if so, do you find it beneficial?

Besides CLC Projects, we belong to two other networks, one for general cargo and a second one for project cargo. It is very beneficial as without the networks it wouldn’t be possible to handle shipments all over the world. But you do need to participate actively, and members need to be chosen carefully.

What’s the best way to get in touch with you?

You can get in touch with me:

Email Address: m.nouveau@cerl.fr
Mobile No.: +33 6 21 57 87 86
WhatsApp / Skype: neuemaya