After more than a year of the pandemic, the Militzer & Münch Group looks back on 2020 with an overall sense of satisfaction. The results of the individual regions vary – but one thing is certain: The employees are committed to creatively mastering the small and big challenges, and to always having an open ear for their customers.
The Militzer & Münch Group’s 2020 business year was, on the whole, satisfactory. “The term ‘mixed fortunes’ sums up the past year quite well,” says Alexei Kovalenko, Chief Financial Officer TransInvest and Militzer & Münch, and spokesman of the Militzer & Münch Group Management. “Except for the spring, especially the month of April, which was marked by lots of uncertainties due to the completely new situation, the rest of the year went largely in line with our expectations.” Among others, there was positive business development in Western Europe, particularly in France and Germany, as well as in the Maghreb.
The Militzer & Münch teams in the individual countries played a substantial role in this development. “These past months have confirmed once again that employees are our most important asset,” says Alexei Kovalenko. “Besides the framework conditions imposed on us by the governments, development is closely related to the colleagues on site. In many cases, the local management did a good job of communicating the temporary and necessary measures, such as short-time work, and the teams went along with them – that was crucial in order to prevail also in the future.”
In addition, the politico-economic framework conditions in some countries were favorable, especially in France and Germany, and Militzer & Münch made use of government support. “In Germany, we experienced some tough weeks in Q2 across all business segments,” says Holger Seehusen, member of the M&M Group Management and Managing Director M&M air sea cargo GmbH. “The option of short-time work was important for the German country unit, and our team fully backed the decision.” In Central Asia, for example, there was no such form of government support, which made the situation far more difficult. There, Militzer & Münch is active in the project business, among other things – this segment however declined noticeably during the pandemic. “Central Asia has been and will be badly shaken by the pandemic,” says Alexei Kovalenko. “However, we are confident that the situation will ease again, and we are still expecting great opportunities in the project business along the new Silk Road.”
Positive signals from the industries
After minor declines, demand from automotive customers already recovered in 2020, and also in the textile and cosmetics sectors, Militzer & Münch records only minor dents in transport demand. “Especially with cosmetics and hygiene products, our expectations of an increase in demand were perhaps a bit higher than it ultimately turned out to be,” says Holger Seehusen. “A positive example is the good cooperation between the teams in China and Germany on the transport of corona protection materials.”
Asia is also benefiting from the e-commerce business, which is particularly noticeable at EMEX, the M&M courier and express service in Kazakhstan – a development that was already apparent in 2020 and continued in Q1/2021. The 1st quarter of 2021 was good in all Militzer & Münch regions, with the country units in Asia still needing to catch up more than their European counterparts.
In some regions, the signs are even pointing to growth: the former delegation in Malaysia has been turned into a full country unit as a joint venture. Militzer & Münch France has taken over ITP and ITPL, companies of the LPS Group (Logistique et Prestations de Services), to further strengthen the Maghreb business. In Vienna, Austria, Militzer & Münch has been represented by its own branch office since October 2020. And the joint venture in Serbia is also developing promisingly. “2020 was the first full year of business for the highly motivated team,” says Alexei Kovalenko. “Thanks to the good development, we decided in March 2021 to acquire the previously rented property with 10,000 square meters of warehousing and 3,000 square meters of office space in Dobanovci near Belgrade, thus giving Militzer & Münch Serbia even more space for growth.”
Ready for the extra mile
The Militzer & Münch Group has always been flexible, and the pandemic once again confirmed it. Where activities allowed, home office options were created at short notice, with both the central IT in Hof and the local IT teams contributing. Some sites relied on a rotating model, which ensured that the offices were never fully staffed.
For the sales teams, among others, however, the pandemic with its many restrictions has been a challenge. “At times, one-on-one customer contact was not possible at all, and digital-only meetings are not easy for either side – neither for forwarders nor for their customers,” says Holger Seehusen. “The creativity of the employees in approaching customers has shown that even in difficult times they are motivated to go the extra mile, to always be close to their customers and understand their needs.” And they demonstrate a great deal of flexibility: telephone conferences called at short notice across national borders and time zones go very well – proof that intensive and efficient exchange is also possible digitally.
Maintaining customer relationships is easier in pandemic times than acquiring new customers, but Militzer & Münch was already well positioned before the pandemic and was able to rely on existing contacts. Thus, the Rail segment at M&M air sea cargo GmbH, for example, developed well in cooperation with the InterRail Group. The relatively new project department in Düsseldorf also gained a foothold and completed some exciting project shipments, including on-carriage to the hinterland, within a very short period of time. In view of the positive business development, Militzer & Münch decided to join the worldwide Atlas Breakbulk Alliance (ABA) network, whose members are forwarding companies with a focus on project shipments only. Thus, participation in the Breakbulk Europe trade fair, which will hopefully take place next year, is a must.