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Solid growth in a solidly united Europe

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The Raben Company was originally founded by J. W. Raben in the Netherlands in 1931. 60 years later, in 1991, his grandson Ewald Raben decided to start business in Poland.

“I was 22 years old and a student when I moved to Poland and felt like a pioneer,” the CEO of the flourishing logistics group describes the beginnings. “At that time, the Polish economy was not very developed. It was a beautiful time because you could see things changing around you every day: new highways, state-of-the-art shopping malls.”

The move to Poland marked the beginning of Raben’s international expansion. Up to 1991, the family-owned company had only operated in the Dutch market. Since then, it has seen significant development.

“When we started, we had twelve employees and a turnover of five million EUR,” states Mr. Raben. “Today, we have over 130 locations in twelve European countries: the Czech Republic, Estonia, the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania and Italy, employ a total of 10,000 people and have revenues of 1.1 billion EUR. We have more than 1.1 million square meters of warehousing space under management and a fleet of over 7,000 vehicles.”

In Poland alone, Raben has almost 5,000 employees, 530,000 m² of storage facilities, 53 locations and 4,000 vehicles. A milestone in the development of Raben Group was the opening of the group’s subsidiary in Germany in 2005.

“Germany is one of the biggest markets in Europe, with 80 million consumers,” says Mr. Raben. “By the end of 2018, Germany will be the most important single market for us. Then we will have our own independent distribution network in the country, with 35 or 36 locations.”

Raben Group is headquartered in the Netherlands. “Germany and Poland are the two biggest markets for us,” states Mr. Raben who not only was Entrepreneur of the Year in Poland 2012 but knows the logistics business inside out.

He has driven trucks, picked pallets and initiated many campaigns promoting road safety and stressing the importance of logistics (www.transport-is-necessary.com).  Raben Group offers comprehensive logistics services – contract logistics, road network (domestic, international and East), Fresh Logistics (food transport in temperature-controlled services), FTL and intermodal transport, sea and air freight and Lead Logistics Provider services that integrate all logistics operations in the customer’s supply chain.

The company has customers in diverse industrial sectors, including automotive, chemical, food, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) in both the food and non-food markets as well as retail and technology.

In all market segments and industries, Raben Group aims to become a leader by enabling its customers to sustain and enhance their competitive edge. “We create our customers’ competitiveness through cost and quality leadership backed by friendly service,” Mr. Raben describes the company’s mission.

At the same time, Raben Group is a socially responsible business committed to environmental protection, employee welfare and positive relations with the local community. “We aim to be a trendsetter in our sector by providing added value through sustainable solutions,” says Mr. Raben.

While operating in a clear growth market with recovering economies, Raben sees several major challenges. “Political protectionism, especially in Western Europe, is increasing,” explains Mr. Raben. “And there is growing social dumping in Europe to the disadvantage of the truck drivers. We are against this development and believe that every driver should be home for the weekend with his family. Last but not least, the labour market is very difficult. It is getting harder to hire skilled labour.”

Despite these challenges, Raben Group is expanding dynamically, both organically and through acquisitions. “Regarding our geographical coverage, we are the number one logistics provider in Central Europe,” states Mr. Raben.

The uninterrupted success of the company is also the result of constant innovations in managing its customers’ supply chains, its early adoption of digital solutions in the logistics industry – Raben Group aims to become the first paperless company in Poland – and its strong dedication to the principles of sustainable development.

“And we are a family enterprise with a human face which is close to its customers and their individual needs,” adds Mr. Raben. “From the family perspective, it is very much about believing in the business you are running. You need to believe in the market you are in and the people who work with you.”

Ewald Raben not only believes in family values but also in the values of the European Union. “We need to get back to a joint, solidly united Europe where all the countries work together as a union again,” concludes Mr. Raben.

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