Family firm for four generations
“In 1920, Ludwig Kießling founded Donau Speditions Gesellschaft mbH in Regensburg – now Kiessling-Spedition in Regenstauf – which provided shipping on the Danube. Even back then he created the basis for the principle behind everything we do every day: ‘tradition and innovation’. We have remained true to that principle to this day.
The last one hundred years have been shaped by the rapid growth of the market. The increasing national and international interweaving of companies required modern, flexible options for both shipping and goods storage. In line with our company approach, it has always been important to us not just to react to these rapid developments, and this remains the case today. For us, a future-oriented company management means far more than that. Our goal has always been to have an ear on the ground so that we can anticipate customer needs with innovative solutions ahead of time. We want to grow and work with our partners to develop our services so that they meet customer needs and focus on the individual situation.
This is what we know: the reason for our success lies with our 200 employees, who do their best to satisfy our customers every day. That’s why their well-being is especially important to us! We therefore place great value on family-friendly workplace policies that make our company an attractive place to work whatever your situation in life.
With a strong team at our side, we are proud that Kiessling-Spedition is still a successful, family-run business 100 years after it was first founded – and that it is now already in its 3rd and 4th generations.
Today, we see ‘tradition & innovation’ as symbols not only of stability and safety but also of steady growth, creativity and vision. We are also aware of this responsibility in our function as an employer, service provider and partner.”
The Management Board
Ludwig Kießling founded Donau-Speditions-Gesellschaft m.b.H in Regensburg on 3 November 1920. After two other founding partners left the company, Ludwig Kießling managed the company alone from 1928. Ludwig Kießling was born on 20 May 1895 and came from an old family of merchants, as is shown by family records dating back to 1570. His ancestors were self-employed merchants, most of whom owned shops selling household products and non-pharmaceutical health products. Ludwig Kießling’s father was a merchant who traded in iron. Ludwig Kießling himself trained as a forwarding merchant at the Schenker & Co. company in Munich from 1912 to 1914.
His son, Robert Kießling, joined the firm as a forwarding merchant’s apprentice on 20 April 1937 and became a partner on 21 May 1943. Back then, the freight forwarding company primarily dealt with shipping on the Danube. Its biggest client was I.G.-Farbenindustrie AG, which used Donau-Spedition Kießling in Regensburg to channel its export goods to the countries bordering the Danube all the way to Romania and Bulgaria. Up to 30 employees made sure that the dyes and chemicals arriving by wagon were cross docked onto the barges on the Danube and, to all intents and purposes, processed the groupage traffic on the inland waterways in the same way it is done on the road today.
Therefore, it was also necessary to bring in “recipient forwarding companies” in the individual ports on the Danube, which is why the company set up its own branches in Vienna and Budapest. Robert Kießling managed the Vienna subsidiary from 1941 to 1945. Back then, he even borrowed horses to ride through Vienna, much of which had already been destroyed by bombs, to transport goods to the barges from factories in the city. In practical terms, by the end of the Second World War the company was no longer able to conduct its business. The Russians occupied the Danube from the east across to the middle of Austria. This meant that traffic on the Danube was no longer possible.
The owners searched for new ways to keep the freight forwarding company alive. At the end of 1945, the company bought its first truck, a French Berliet wood gas powered truck. Robert Kießling drove this truck himself as the company’s first driver. The company also managed to acquire and operate two other trucks before the currency reform in 1948: an Opel Blitz from old army stock and an American GMC. By then, the staff had shrunk to four employees, who were mainly occupied with driving the trucks and the loading this involved. It was not until after the currency reform on 21 June 1948 that the company was able to purchase its first Büssing Diesel with a load capacity of 5 t – the first drivers were hired. Now the warehousing business began to grow. In 1948/49, on land belonging to the federal railway, Robert Kießling built the first warehouse in Regensburg freight depot, where cotton sacks, various kinds of fishmeal, onions and salad oil were initially stored.
The company acquired international business deals, particularly those involving paper shipments from Austria. Traffic was possible again on the Danube. Full bargeloads of paper were loaded onto HGVs in Regensburg and forwarded to consignees all over Germany. The company also took care of other services, such as pumping diesel fuel out of tankers or keeping cattle fed and watered during transport by rail from Romania and Hungary. Through the stockpiling by the chemical industry – the “old customers” – the opportunity arose to rent external warehouses as well. On 1 March 1957, the company purchased a former aerodrome that had been part of the Messerschmitt works in Regensburg on 13,700 m2 of land, and used this as a warehouse. The first thing to be stored here was cane sugar from Cuba for the Regensburg sugar factory. This sugar was later processed into fine sugar and stored in large quantities in the warehouse again in piles of up to 8 m in height. In the subsequent period, many thousand tonnes of grain, fertiliser and pellets were stored in this hall. The company constantly increased its capacities by building extensions onto the warehouse. A new office building was constructed in 1970, so that from that time onwards, the administration, fleet and warehousing were united in one spot for the first time.
Christoph Kießling joined the company as a forwarding merchant on 1 December 1969 and became a partner on 1 January 1972. At that time, the company founder, Ludwig Kießling, left the company. The firm continued to develop the truck line hauls, particularly those to Berlin, but also those that went to Munich. The company’s own Berlin subsidiary was very active and despatched around 20 goods trains to Bavaria every day. To be able to process the groupage traffic efficiently, the first swap bodies were acquired, distribution centres reconstructed to loading dock height and local transport vehicles used for distribution. In the storage area, the company management tried to replace the bulk cargo that was stored sporadically with continual warehousing orders. This way, a large number of distributing warehouses developed, primarily for the chemical industry. Josef Kießling joined the company as a forwarding merchant on 1 February 1974 and became a partner on 1 January 1976.
New customers – particularly from the automotive industry – led to the further growth of the transport organisation. Just-in-time delivery was now in demand. Procurement logistics and procurement and disposal for the supply industry grew into new fields of activity for the freight forwarding company. As a service feature that was expected as a matter of course, the customers required increasingly shorter transit times and even a 24-hour service throughout Germany. In the years that followed, another requirement by the automotive industry arose with the adjustment to the just-in-sequence concept. Manufactured goods that were needed were now delivered straight to the assembly line for immediate further processing. To achieve this, it was no longer just the synchronisation of times and quantities that was decisive but also that the correct order of the components immediately being fed into the production process had to be precisely observed. From this point, fully automated trailers were put into action in order to meet the changing needs. Supply and transport logistics processes were adapted and optimised, and delivery cycles shortened.
Robert Kießling left the company on 9 March 1992. The company’s continuous upward growth led to a shortage of space for warehousing, distribution and offices. Everything was bursting at the seams and the spatial structure of the individual sections of the warehouses, particularly the LTL distribution facilities, no longer satisfied requirements either. Sometimes the distribution of LTL freight had to be carried out on two levels. The fast distribution of LTL freight, which was necessary to achieve the increasingly short transit times, could no longer be guaranteed in the existing facility in the long term. Further growth at this place of operation was no longer possible. Therefore, Christoph and Josef Kießling searched for a new site and, on 18 March 1992, purchased a 31,600 m2 plot of land on the industrial estate “Industriegebiet Süd” in Regenstauf. Here they built a modern new logistics centre with 3,000 m2 of distribution centres and 34 gate systems, a high-bay warehouse containing 12,500 pallet spaces and also an office and workshop building. After one year of construction, the new site began operation on 21 November 1994. At the turn of the millennium, the company management decided to extend the premises due to the company’s continued growth. By purchasing an adjacent plot of land, the company was able to build a second office building and extend the distribution centre. On the company premises, which now covered a surface area of 40,000 m2, the logistics centre was developed to include 66 gate systems and a 6,000 m2 distribution centre. Restructuring in the warehousing enabled extra additions to be made to the available capacities for hazardous substances so that there was then room for a total of 14,000 pallet spaces.
In 2003, the company extended its range of services when it entered the new business field of overnight express deliveries. Consignments for Night-Star-Express customers are delivered overnight by 8 o’clock the next morning inside Germany and to its bordering countries with no signature required. Deliveries are made to lockable depots. Customers that particularly benefit from this service are not only those with time-critical spare parts from the automotive, agricultural engineering and construction equipment industries but also pharmacies with pharmaceuticals as well as technicians whose spare parts are delivered directly into their work vehicles, and this service is still firmly anchored in the company today. Always with a focus on the customer’s needs, the value-added services that the company offered in chemical logistics were further expanded with the installation of a new 200 m2 operating platform in 2011. Up to 2,000 boxes a day can be packaged, repackaged and labelled on two packaging lines, each with its own conveyor belts, automatic box sealers and pallet wrapping machines, which means that value-added services can be provided with even more speed and flexibility. Due to the increasing demand for safe hazardous materials warehouses, the existing warehouse was extended in 2013, which expanded its capacity by 3,000 additional pallet spaces. Our own laboratory for transferring and decanting hazardous substances, primarily for the chemical industry, adds a completely new line of business to the range of value-added services the company has offered since 2018. Since then, with three modern hazardous substance workstations, a picking zone and storage rooms for chemicals and consumables, solid and liquid substances are decanted in small quantities of 10 ml/g to 5000 ml/g – for test samples for instance.
Today, customers profit from a transport network with over 90 stations all over Europe. We serve local destinations with 35 distribution lines every day. By using our own transport networks, we can guarantee a comprehensive 24-hour delivery service all over Germany. You have the options of express delivery by 8 am / 10 am / 12 pm on the following day. For a particularly high degree of speed and flexibility, we use selected partners to carry out the transport of freight and partial loads as well as daily direct shipments and transshipments. We organise all export and import processes for the customer through our own customs agency. Regular shipments to and from all European countries are carried by the 3,000 HGVs we send on the roads of Europe every day. All over the world, goods are transported over land, by sea or by air freight.
The automotive logistics division is still very active too. Here, products and materials are procured throughout Europe through cross-docking stations, from which the manufacturing plants are supplied just-in-sequence. Every day, the despatch department commissions a fixed base of forwarding agents to do this. The company has direct automotive transport links with Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Most LTL shipments are distributed through our own partner networks inside Germany and Europe. Aside from dangerous goods safety advice and storage of hazardous substances and the transport of dangerous goods, customers from the agricultural and chemical industries can also utilise the storage of hazardous substances from almost all VCI (chemical industry association) storage classes. Today, there are 17,000 pallet spaces available in the 8,200 m2 hazardous materials storage section in our own high-bay warehouse. Equipped with innovative warehouse technology and subject to the latest standards of safety, it is all set for the years to come.
The warehousing was converted into a completely paperless process with the use of a new warehouse management software. Since then, the picker packers have been working with mobile data acquisition devices without a pick list in paper form, which means that orders can be processed with even greater speed and reliability.
Digital technologies, artificial intelligence and the growing automation of processes are changing logistics and increasingly shaping the future of the industry. In order to keep driving the digital transformation of the company forwards, we have been expanding our own IT department over the last few years. The permanent improvement in the internal structures relieves the staff of the burden of standard processes and creates capacities for individual tasks. One of the first projects to be put into practice in this regard was a central, standardised reporting platform to prepare the data available in the company qualitatively and to provide it promptly and according to needs. This means that compiling Excel reports manually is a thing of the past. Likewise, the majority of the work processes which used to be done on paper are meanwhile mapped using document management applications or have been completely redesigned and considerably simplified using apps programmed for this purpose.
First and foremost, it is the customers who profit from the many years of our own IT staff’s experience in consulting and developing software-based logistics solutions. The analysis of business processes and flows of material and information creates the basis for preparing customised options for optimisation. Subsequent measures, such as the interface connection or the adapting of the software systems used to customer needs are also put into effect in-house.
The staff have the freedom they need to come up with their own ideas and to put them into practice themselves. Through solutions to new topics which the staff have worked on, AI-based systems are already in use today, as are self-training systems. These will be continuously developed in future. That way, the focus on digital technologies will provide a modern workplace for all of our staff and will equip the company well for the future at the same time.
The management board sees a close connection between long-term success and future-oriented management. Tradition and innovation go hand in hand when it comes to keeping an ear to the ground and developing customised services and solutions.
To do this, the employees are seen as being the people with creative new ideas and the drivers of current and future success. They do their best every day to satisfy the customers, and that is why the employees’ well-being is particularly close to the hearts of the company directors.
To ensure a solid foundation for long-term cooperation that is based on trust, the compatibility of work and home life is enabled as far as possible with individual and flexible solutions that are adapted to each person’s individual situation. Here, it goes without saying that any dialogue that takes place is one between equals. This approach is successful, as proved by the employer evaluations, which lie far above the industry average. So that the company can continue to build on the family-friendly workplace policies in future as well, its own involvement in networks of family-friendly companies is very important. One important focus is on vocational training and supporting young recruits. In five training occupations and a sandwich course, young people receive the best possible support on their way into the working world and are prepared for the tasks they will take on later in the family-run business. The increasing significance of digitisation is also becoming more and more noticeable when it comes to acquiring employees and trainees. Online trade fairs and social media, for instance, are increasingly being used as digital ways to ensure that we have a skilled worker base in future as well.