Interview with Holger Dechant about the current situation
Mr. Dechant, the corona virus affects life and work in Germany and the rest of the world. How is the Universal Transport Group dealing with the crisis?
We were also struck by the outcome of this virus, but luckily, we were well prepared. Thanks to our specially developed intranet system heavyNet, we were able to send all employees whose tasks allow it into the home office virtually overnight – from administration to dispatching. For all others, we have adjusted the shifts and the premises in a way so the recommended social distance can be maintained. In addition, we are in close contact with our branches abroad in order to comply with the respective country regulations and to protect our team as best as possible against the virus.
How are the drivers coping with it all?
Our professional drivers have to work under extremely difficult conditions currently. This involves the denial of basic needs such as access to sanitary facilities, showers or even a warm meal. At the service stations on the motorways, which are still closed, none of this is possible at the moment, and the situation at the customers premises is not much better either. I understand that they want to prevent the virus from spreading within their company, therefore we are trying to arrange compromises to deal with this situation. In addition, together with other freight forwarders, we launched a public appeal to politicians to ensure the basic needs of our drivers are covered . With this appeal, we were able to hold further discussions and find good alternatives.
What are the consequences of the virus for your customers and orders?
We are aware of our responsibility towards customers even in difficult times like these and continue to work for and with them. However, we cannot influence some aspects. In the case of cross-border traffic, for example, there are still waiting times, traffic jams and delays at the crossings despite the “green lanes” for freight traffic. Therefore, we keep a close eye on current developments, plan as far as possible and stay in close contact with our customers.
Does the corona pandemic already have economic consequences for the Universal Transport Group?
Short-time work is an issue for us as well. We are trying everything to avoid or postpone such cuts as far as possible. Unfortunately, we must react where we are dependent on heavily affected sectors such as the automotive industry, as well. We cannot make long-term statements about the consequences now, but we are in discussion with customers, suppliers and subcontractors in order to get through the crisis together. In addition, we examine future new investments very carefully. Investments already made and necessary, such as the move to Nuremberg in March this year or the upcoming new office building in Hamburg, will still go ahead.
Is there anything you would like to say to your employees and customers in this difficult time?
First, we would like to thank all our colleagues who continue to do their job in a committed and motivated manner, sometimes under the most difficult conditions, and this keeps our company going. We do everything to survive this crisis with our team and our customers. And we have done that from the start with common sense. With enough flexibility, confidence, discipline and responsibility, we can master this together. This also includes humour and team spirit. With our social media campaign and this newsletter, we want to give you some normality and above all some joy in this difficult time.
Don’t worry, #staystrong, #stayhealthy and #thinkpositive.