“The German company DACHSER founded the Hungarian company in 1999 as a joint venture with Engelbert Liegl,” says Zsolt Bognár, the deputy managing director. “Now, the company operates as a hub for nearby countries including Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Italy.”
Starting out with a 7,000 m² warehouse in Pilisvörösvár, close to the capital Budapest, the company has expanded to a network of locations in numerous Hungarian cities, like Tiszaújváros, Kecskemét, Pécs and Zalaegerszeg. Much of its expansion happened before Hungary joined the European Union in 2004.
That meant that the company’s various locations had already built up experience, and were well positioned to take advantage of the economic changes that came with EU expansion. The company’s managing director to this day is the Austrian-born cofounder Mr. Liegl. He and the German company DACHSER are the only owners.
In 2006, while expanding its Pilisvörösvár base into a 21,000 m² facility, LIEGL & DACHSER created a 6,000 m² warehouse that complied with ADR requirements for the handling of dangerous goods. The abbreviation ADR refers to a Europewide agreement on standards for transporting flammable, toxic and corrosive substances.
“It is a big competitive advantage for us that we are able to deal with dangerous products,” Mr. Bognár says. “Companies are devoting more and more attention to preventing catastrophes by storing chemicals correctly. That is especially true since the 2010 incident here in Hungary, in which sludge spilled from an alumina plant and flooded several localities.”
Not that LIEGL & DACHSER is resting on its laurels in this regard. “We are seeking to expand our expertise still further to ensure that our clients’ dangerous products are stored and shipped in accordance with regulations,” Mr. Bognár says.
Another speciality of the company is air and sea transportation. It deals with air shipments through Budapest’s main international airport, recently renamed after the composer Ferenc Liszt but better-known under its old name, Ferihegy. The company also has expertise in food transportation, and since 2008 has had a 5,000 m² refrigerated warehouse for foods at its Biatorbágy location.
“We want to build up our air and sea transportation and our food transportation business lines,” says Mr. Bognár. “Our intention is always to be in a leading position in any market segment we are active in.” Strengthening its regional position, in 2011 LIEGL & DACHSER launched a subsidiary in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.
This business will act as a re-loading base serving Central and Eastern Europe more widely. In addition, the company has had activities in Romania since 2009, with bases in the cities of Bucharest, Oradea and Bradov. LIEGL & DACHSER has built up an impressive portfolio of international clients, including BASF and Bayer, the German chemical companies, and Philips, the Dutch electronics manufacturer.
Philips is just one of several leading international electronics companies that benefit from LIEGL & DACHSER’s expertise. LIEGL & DACHSER’s turnover has increased fourfold in the past ten years, reaching roughly 43 million EUR in 2010. Its payroll has also quadrupled, to the current 220 employees.
Mr. Bognár has been one of them from the very beginning. “I have been working together with Mr. Liegl for a long time,” he says. “And the company has many long-standing employees whose know-how is critical to our work. It is not the kind of business in which you can rely on good technology. You need to be able to trust the people.”
Mr. Bognár has a wealth of experience in the field. He worked in other logistics companies, including Masped and Eurosped, before working for LIEGL & DACHSER. He has been deputy managing director since before Hungary’s EU accession, but earlier was transport director at the company. In his current job, he oversees the shaping of the Hungarian network and its operative management.
LIEGL & DACHSER operates with about 300 trucks, most of which are owned by subcontractors. It often undertakes collective delivery jobs, meaning that a large number of small deliveries are transported together once they are all ready to go. This is a side of its business that has accelerated - from weekly to daily delivery - since Hungary became an EU member state.
The company promotes itself in various ways. That includes direct marketing efforts in which a client is approached individually. But it also includes simply making its name more and more well-known through continuous high-quality work. “We are sufficiently recognised that we get invited to participate in tender processes,” Mr. Bognár notes.
Looking to the future, Mr. Bognár hopes the company will continue to develop dynamically as the market reshapes itself. It plans to improve its ADR storage, strengthen its position in food shipping, seek out new logistics partners, and try out new segments of the business. Asked about the factors that explain LIEGL & DACHSER’s success, Mr. Bognár says it has a lot to do with the family business ethos, an unusual thing to find in such a large company. Mr. Liegl’s own personal drive also has a lot to do with it, he adds.
Then there is the company’s excellent strategic approach to its business, which includes a unified network system that makes it possible to track shipments in great detail. But not least among LIEGL & DACHSER’s qualities is its conscientiousness. “We are always trying to develop ourselves further to keep meeting the demands of the future,” says Mr. Bognár. “And one thing that never changes is the need to be a reliable partner to our clients and earn their trust. It’s not common for us to make mistakes, but when we do, we always make up for them.”