Mr. Cord Bruegge
First, Cord, please tell us about your background in freight forwarding and logistics. When did you start your career and what made you choose this road?
I started my career at Deutsche Africa Linien in the 70s, eventually becoming the coordinator of the entire West Africa Container service of Woerman Line, a subdivision of DAL.
In the mid-80s, I changed to AAEL. I was part of a team that built up and managed AAEL, America Africa Europe Line. AAEL was running a triangular breakbulk and container line between the USA, West Africa, Portugal and the USA carrying the entire oil well supply for Cabinda Gulf Oil in Angola, moving containers as well as breakbulk cargo.
On the return leg, the ships loaded cotton, cocoa, coffee and copper bars, some of it for Europe other cargo for the USA. Government regulations, corporate filings and legal issues were part of the daily business, which formed my overall detailed knowledge of company formations, structures and American shipping legislation.
As of 1992, I became part of a small group of international managers that created the NVOCC Ocean World Lines (OWL), one of the first worldwide fully bonded and neutral NVOCCs with a specific focus on FCL cargo. I oversaw the construction and organization of the agency network in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
The liner background of the Ocean World Lines management team led to a structure very much resembling the shipping lines we managed previously. The ‘Hanseatic approach’ to customers and agents, as much as the loyalty to business partners, helped build our reputation in the shipping industry. We ran a neutral NVOCC network of friends.
OWL was acquired by Pacer in 2000 and in 2011, several members of the management team moved on to new challenges. In mid-2012, a new network was created under the name Oceanwide Logistics Global Network.
My management company (OLN Oceanwide Logistics Global Network GmbH & Co KG) was formed to take over the development of the infrastructure, appoint agents, run the business etc. OLN never contacts customers (unless in claims or legal cases when requested by a member) and never does commercial business. Customer requests are always passed to the agent in the respective country or port.
What is the function of the network overall?
Most of the partners/agents in the network were taken in as members thanks to personal friendships with one or more members. This means members are working with friends and working for friends.
We did not want to end up becoming a huge list of agents around the world, there is no advantage for the agents to be just one name on such a list of hundreds within their countries. We wanted it to be small, with a maximum of three agents per country, so that people know exactly who they’re working with at each port.
Our shipping line background had taught us that a network functions best when there is the line (principal) watching what is going on and steering the activities. So, we took that sample and copied it to our network, except that we avoided a hierarchy, creating equally levelled participants in the global business, all managed by me as the network manager.
These days, there seems to be a network available around every corner offering services to logistics companies. What are the main benefits of being part of your network?
In practice, it means that I am actively managing the network every day. I get copies of a big part of the email exchange in the network, I read what is going on and I come in whenever I can assist. Some emails need to be readdressed and passed on, since contact details may have changed, which may have slipped by the agent sending the e-mail. I come in with technical help, legal help, documentation advice, filing needs, getting rates, getting answers from agents when a reminder is coming up, mediating when differences in views arise, support payment and collection issues etc. I help with claims and how to avoid claims coming up.
Agents contact me every day for help and advice and the number of contacts we have shows that our concept is popular.
Every day I generate the daily news inside the network, spreading around information, news and circulars from the lines around the globe. It’s a head start for our teams to be better informed. These news items, if not limited by copyright, also show up on our website (www.olgn.org). This website in the meantime is used by carriers to gather neutral and qualified information about the actions of their competitors.
We created specialist groups inside the network so that we can cover special requests as they come from the partners. These groups are:
Reefer Cargo Group
Tank Container Group
Vessel Charter Group
We host annual agents’ meetings in ever-changing locations, but we do not end up with hundreds of anonymous participants. The circle is kept small, maximum of one hundred people, and at the end of the meeting, people have spoken to everyone around, renewing friendships or making new friends.
Do you have any restrictions in place for when you choose would-be candidates for your network?
We do not have restrictions in place, but we want to know that one or more of our partners are familiar with the candidate and can report positively. Sometimes, we accept a candidate when the reputation and financial standing is beyond any doubt.
Do you cater for all kinds of logistics companies or do you focus more on general cargo, project cargo, or LCL?
As you can see above, we covered nearly all means of transport, including projects, airfreight etc. Members may not be able to come up with all the services by themselves, but they can use agents in the specialist groups to assist them and still do the business.
We want to keep the numbers low, as it’s not our intention to blow this network up and make big money on membership fees. Our goal is to have a small group of companies around the globe who trust each other and come up with excellent service for their customers. We know that the consignee at the destination will be happy too, as our partner there will make sure that the transport is performed without issue.
Could you perhaps provide us with some examples of cargo that have been moved within your group, cargo more of a project nature perhaps?
1500 CBM of mining equipment to Mongolia from Houston
Transportation of transformers from China to Kazakhstan
We do ongoing projects of Oil Well Cargo into Africa
Project Pipes from Italy to Iraq
Giant buoyancy modules from the UK to Turkey
How to get in touch with you?
The best way to get in touch is via my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org