Although there is nothing secretive about it, the opening of the brand-new, 12,000m2 warehouse of Danish family company Alex Andersen on Japanlaan in Aalsmeer last year was opened without much fanfare. “That’s probably the Scandinavian mentality,” knows Diederik de Jong, sales & project manager at the transporter, “and it’s not one of shouting loudly, but doing something right first before you advertise it.”
Diederik de Jong
Now, the latter, at least from a business point of view, is going well. The transporter has experienced major growth in recent years; it is in the process of opening several hubs in the Netherlands and Germany. There are large depots in Denmark (in Odense, Aarhus, and Greve), in Sweden (Helsingborg), and Norway (Moss), and an increasing number of (large) growers, exporters, garden centers, and retailers in Scandinavia but also in the Netherlands and Germany, rely on the logistics services of the company’s 400 or so vehicles.
With a 90-95 percent market share, Alex Andersen has long been the big boy in floriculture transport in Denmark. This is huge but has been shrinking slightly recently, as the share of fruit and vegetables is growing faster than flowers and plants in percentage terms. Danish ornamental horticulture has also undergone perhaps even greater consolidation than the Dutch market. Where there used to be hundreds of nurseries, now the number is somewhere between 60 and 80.
In short, the export/transit share has increased, and the company is responding to that. First of all, the outlook has become much more international recently. In fact, that process started back in 2004, when Henrik Larsen was instructed by management to open a branch in the Netherlands. With nothing more than a bank card in his pocket, so the story goes, he landed in Aalsmeer to rent a first box. A first, as several moves followed, until they ended up in the current DC. Two months ago, a branch was opened in Herongen, with a branch in Honselersdijk also opening in the near future.
Alex Andersen drives ‘for customers to customers’ and makes sure everything arrives on site ‘shop-ready.’ That means repacking at the various hubs and, on location, it basically just needs to get out of the truck and off the trolley. They also drive LHVs as much as possible. “Especially on the longer distances to and in Sweden and Norway, this has many advantages,” Diederik knows. “It is more environmentally friendly because you drive with fewer cars, and you can get by with fewer drivers. In that respect, our hubs are set up to work with these truck combinations. By allowing goods flows to come together here, that truck can go straight onto the road and does not have to collect first, which is far from possible everywhere with LHVs anyway.”
Basically, Alex Andersen works with its own drivers, and they are careful about those drivers. Diederik proudly shows off the new facilities, which include areas for eating, washing, and relaxing in peace. Besides Danes, there are many Germans who drive the trucks, and also many Lithuanians. They also work a lot and like to work in pairs, which is ideal for longer trips. The new warehouse itself is BREEAM certified, which is a sustainability label for buildings but also indicates that it is a good place for people – the drivers, but also the office staff and warehouse workers. “And it certainly is, all the more so because the management is trying very hard to maintain the feeling of a family business,” Diederik concludes. “The well-being of our people and drivers is paramount, and no skimping is done in that respect. This building, especially from that philosophy, is fully equipped with all conveniences, and to top it off, we are treated to breakfast and a freshly cooked lunch every day.”
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Diederik de Jong