COLI Logistics

COLI Logistics GmbH – Hamburg, Germany


Interview with

Mr. Patrick Zernikow
Managing Director

First of all, Patrick, tell us why you got into shipping in the first place and how you ended up as MD of COLI Logistics GmbH?                     

Due to the fact that my grandfather was a shipowner, I got in touch with the shipping business very early, actually from the time I was a child. Shipping was always a topic in our family. When I was a child, my father and I went to the port of Bremerhaven and could get very close to the ships. In those days, it was still possible, because it was before 9/11. Even though shipping and logistics is part of my daily life, for me it is still unbelievable how such big ships can keep afloat and carry so much cargo.

After several years working for another freight forwarder and doing some port consulting afterwards, the owner of COLI Group asked me to join COLI in order to set up the logistics division as a service addition of the COLI Group. So now we have brokerage, carrier and logistics under one umbrella.

Who are COLI Logistics today? Who are the owners of the group, and what is the main activity that you perform in shipping? Are you a project freight forwarder, broker, shipping agent or all of the above?

COLI offers brokerage, own operated vessels and logistics services under one umbrella. I’m responsible for COLI Logistics, and the aim is basically to generate cargo for our own vessels. Yet, we do not focus only on project cargo, but also on FCL (including Flat Racks) and Ro/Ro Cargo. On the one hand, COLI Logistics tries to be the connection part to COLI Shipping and work out other shipping options such as Break Bulk on container vessels and Ro/Ro. On the other hand, we focus on smaller shipments like a combination of Container, Flat Racks and Break Bulk pieces. COLI Logistics operates offices in Hamburg and Bremen. Furthermore, we have a strong internal connection to our offices in Turkey, China and Brazil.

Outside of COLI Logistics office in Hamburg
The offices of COLI Logistics Bremen

Could you provide us with some examples of projects that you have handled recently?                     

Recently, we handled a shipment for our Cross Ocean member, BP Logistics, to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We were asked to pick up cargo for an attraction park (a Sky Tower) from locations in Germany, Hungary, and France and bring it to Ho Chi Minh City. We loaded some elements on Ro/Ro Vessel (2x), some on Flats Racks (10 x 40’FR) and some in Containers (8 x 40’HC).

Furthermore, we are currently handling a shipment of Brewery Equipment to Brazil. This project includes pre-carriage by barge from Bavaria to Antwerp, Break Bulk shipments on container vessel and Flat Racks and containers. We are also responsible for DAP delivery to two different locations in Brazil.

We are also able to handle import shipments. We handled a shipment from Brazil to Germany. This Break Bulk shipment came in via Ro/Ro vessel, and we were responsible for DAP delivery including customs formalities.

Also for our partner, Wiima in Finland, we have handled land transports from Germany to Spain.

Within the COLI group, you also have a strong brokerage division, I believe, and customers and other project freight forwarders may get help from you in finding suitable tonnage, right?                     

Yes, indeed! Our brokerage team often asks us to find other shipping solutions as an alternative to Break Bulk Vessels. Case by case, we have to evaluate clients demands in terms of transit time, costs, and handling instructions. Due to our experience of many years in the logistics sector, we know which carriers are strong in which trade, and we have built up strong relationships over the previous years.

Tell us about your offices abroad and your activities outside Germany.

From the logistics point of view, we have very strong offices in Brazil and China. In particular, our connection to Brazil is very strong as this country is an FOB market, so the importance of having an office there is very high. Together with our China office, we have handled cross trades, for example, from China to Africa.

COLI Shipping operates offices in Antwerp, Denmark, Turkey, Dubai, Singapore, and Tokyo.

Are you a member of any networks at the moment? If so why, and have you found such membership useful?

We, as COLI Logistics, are members of CROSS OCEAN. For us, it is important to rely on a network of well-experienced and high class freight forwarders in order to offer our clients local services in countries where COLI does not operate its own offices. Furthermore, this network gives us the possibility to meet each member once a year and exchange information about each country in terms of market situation and also cultural issues.

Business evolves all the time, and looking into the crystal ball, what do you foresee in terms of development of COLI Logistics in the next couple of years?

The next few years will be tough as we have been in the market with our new name for little more than one year. We have to face the challenges of the current worldwide market situation, such as uncertainty, as well as asserting ourselves against competitors.

I’m of the opinion that the human beings behind the company name are still a very important sales argument, and I say this to my team everyday.

Furthermore, nobody can foresee the impact of the current Corona disease today. There will certainly be a deep impact. I hope the world economy and the logistics sector will recover quickly, but the most important thing is that as many people as possible stay healthy.

What is the best way to get in touch with you?

You can get in touch with me via:
Mobile: +49 151 1463 1380