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The human factor as a difference maker

Dietrich Logistics’ operation in Mexico displays its strengths, standing out from global players and coming through in critical times

Karl Heinz Dietrich International Logistics began operations in 1945 Germany as WWII came to an end. The company started by transporting much needed goods from humanitarian aid, thus setting its core values, which prevail to this day in Dietrich locations across 23 countries through Europe, the Americas and Asia. In 1950, the parent company became a pioneer among shipping agencies by obtaining IATA (International Air Transport Association) certification, and to this today it stands among top volume export shippers from Germany. The operations with the most hired employees are the parent company and Rumania; in the former, main services include air, sea and land shipping, break bulk cargo and storage; the Rumanian operation offers, among other services, pallet washing for the automotive industry and packaging for other sectors. After some work for the pharmaceutical and automotive industries in Latin America, Dietrich first set foot in Mexico in 1999, and finally established its affiliate in 2009, currently working from facilities in Mexico City (offices and AICM --the city’s International Airport), Guadalajara and Queretaro. The Mexican operation became an IATA agent in 2015, enabling Dietrich Logistics Mexico to obtain more contracts without depending upon deals worked out by the parent company in Germany.

Kevin Schoberth, General Manager for Dietrich Logistics in Mexico

“The goal was to create business here, introducing ourselves directly to companies working in Mexico, and we’ve already achieved this goal,” explains Kevin Schoberth, CEO for Dietrich Logistics in Mexico.

Schoberth’s career started from the dual education system in his natal Germany, by achieving a diploma in Wholesale Trade, and afterwards graduating in Pedagogy at the Friedrich–Alexander University Erlangen–Nürnberg, where he also earned an MBA and a master’s in Industrial Economics. Before arriving at Mexico to take over the Dietrich Logistics office, Schoberth worked for Ninz, the Italian steel door manufacturer, where he gained valuable experience in the purchases and export departments, getting ready for his upcoming role in the logistics industry.

“Logistics is a very aggressive, hostile environment, it is hard to remain at ease,” Schoberth commented.

Focus on personal service and client support

Price is one of the two most-definitive factors in logistics; nowadays, this factor answers to the need to remain within a competitive range among the industry. When activity is limited to volume analysis, delivery times and amounts, there’s not that much aside from seeking the most convenient option; but once the process is in the hands of the human factor, not everyone steps up to the task as Dietrich does. There are always unforeseen events in logistics, too many factors fall in between taking something from A to B, and when any inconvenience arises, true pros stand out from the rest.

“The biggest potential is in our attention to clients, it’s an area we are locked into. When problems arise, it’s always the human factor solving them; sadly, this seems like it’s not a factor anymore, especially in large companies,” the executive declared. In recent years, Dietrich commissioned a special task force able to provide 24/7 support, reaching out where automation and digital resources can’t go. Process acceleration

Starting 2020, Dietrich operates in Mexico with the same system as the parent company does, updating cloud-based data instantly, sharing real-time info about each shipment at a key’s stroke and accelerating processes when entering data for each new shipment in the system, viewable from the locations involved and avoiding a never-ending succession of emails, phone calls and text messages. The new system can be set to allow clients to track their shipments.

“This new system saves time, allowing our staff to do the kind of tasks that cannot be done through technology, like taking phone calls, as well as taking care of emergencies and critical situations,” Schoberth explained.

Increasing digital presence Dietrich has recently invested in its online presence by upgrading its website and increasing social media activity in specialized platforms like LinkedIn.

Other interactions have also been digitized, such as the company having taken part in the virtual expo organized by CAMEXA (Mexican-German chamber of commerce and industry) in July 2020, considering physical interaction with prospect clients during the global pandemic has not been possible.

“We are now taking all of our virtual presence in Mexico by creating a plan we manage here, which will bring us plenty of benefits,” the executive pointed out.

Key support from purveyors and strategic partners

The relationship between Dietrich Mexico and its suppliers rests on reliability and thorough communication, resulting in timely processes. Customs agents, warehouses and transport units, among others, are part of a reliable support network. “We work 100% on logistics coordination and we make the most of our business partners. During the last few years, we’ve established a reliable suppliers network regarding costs and delivery times,” Schoberth commented.

Reputation supported by the parent company’s blessing

The relationship between the company’s office in Mexico and the executive headquarters in Germany displays an important balance between following plans from the parent company and autonomy to operate and increase the brand’s value. Europe provides operation guidelines and values which mix with what the staff in Mexico has to offer, delivering high quality service.

As often as there are contract and tender arrangements with multinational companies from Dietrich’s global headquarters -which always contribute to sustain the workload-, the Mexican operation is already familiar with the domestic market, its capacity and possible eventualities and variables, in a way that it is tapped to create business opportunities.

Personnel: a commitment turned into effort and fulfillment

The importance of the human factor has been underlined, boasting a very low turnover rate and employees with 7-plus years seniority, including a staff member who has been a part of the company since it opened for business in Mexico back in 1999.

It’s worth noting that a very important aspect in the staff’s loyalty to Dietrich is the company’s perception of the cost/benefit relation of working arrangements such as outsourcing, determining it is more convenient for Dietrich to hire permanent employees with paid benefits, resulting in loyalty and a better performance not only to the company but also to its clientele. This approach in the relationship with its workforce translates into a better performance from workers feeling secure about their job.

According to Dietrich’s services portfolio, some positions demand certain abilities such as speaking different languages, knowledge of tax laws, as well as requiring certifications for handling dangerous items; the company not only provides the required trainings for employees designed for such matters, but opens the training course for the whole staff, benefitting individual employees with the desire to increase their expertise.

Dietrich Logistics is supported by HR specialists able to detect prospect employees with an adequate profile.

“Logistics is some kind of support for conducting business, not the business in itself; the client’s business only works out if our part in the equation is done correctly,” the executive declared.

Facing COVID19 with a complete staff

Consequences derived from the global pandemic hit Dietrich Logistics and found a rock-solid company properly prepared to face such a challenge. Even with a decreasing imports volume, the company’s foresight allowed it to retain all of its personnel, which became subject to telecommuting as much as possible even before the local government’s order to quarantine; in fact, employees lacking any of the resources to work from home were furnished and enabled by the company to perform in the work from home modality.

The psychology department in the HR area has fulfilled its role neatly in providing support to employees who needed it, helping Dietrich in covering every possible need to minimize any affectation suffered by company staff during the emergency. Visiting prospective and existing clients became virtual visits with the use of digital resources.

Most of the work during the pandemic has derived from emergencies and complex shipments, the kind of conditions that bring the best out of Dietrich.

“Opportunities arise from crisis or desperate situations, and it’s about making the most out of it,” Schoberth emphasized.

What’s next? Stability and new clients

In spite of everything the pandemic implies, Dietrich Logistics closes 2020 in Mexico maintaining stability and its structure, controlling costs where possible. Keeping up stability is one of the main goals for 2021, a year bringing uncertainty in most sectors, a year which may result in a search for survival for many businesses. According to Schoberth, maybe by mid-2021 the light at the end of the tunnel will shine, offering much needed ease and relief. “This year had already brought significant changes after the new system’s deployment. There are things to improve, new business relationships were accomplished and we could offer support in critical situations. We’ll benefit from all of this,” finalized Kevin Schoberth, CEO for Dietrich Logistics in Mexico.


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