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A small panning to the left around the quay wall, then it lies in front of us: the side walls tower majestically out of the Elbe; ship’s men on deck look like figures in the miniature wonderland, Hamburg’s famous tourist attraction; 40-foot containers look like tiny building blocks. 400 meters long, 59 meters wide, 20,766 TEU capacity – the dimensions leave you speechless. When it comes to containers, the CMA CMG Antoine De St. Exupery is one of the largest container ships in the world – its sheer size even more impressive from the deck of the comparatively tiny barge. As an “ordinary landlubber, you can’t get any closer to the modern giants of the oceans as you experience “sea freight up close”!

The trip with the barge “Diplomat” into the harbor basin of the Eurogate container terminal in Hamburg, Germany, was one of the highlights of a network event on August 31, 2018 to which Hellmann-CCO Jochen Freese invited members of the Federal Economic Senate of the Federal Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (BVMW). The BVMW Economic Senate sees itself as a politically independent discussion partner for business and science, culture, politics, and the media. It is made up of 230 business personalities who are role models, thinkers and pioneers of the German SME sector. The members of the Federal Economic Senate secure more than 1.1 million jobs in owner-managed companies in Germany and generate a combined annual turnover of around EUR 98 billion. More than 50 guests accepted the invitation to gain a deep insight into the complex processes of global sea freight and to network with each other.

But back to the beginning. The fact that the container giant of the French shipping company CMA CMG had moored in the port of Hamburg the evening before was one of the fortunate circumstances that made this day a unique event, as was the bright blue sky in Hamburg, which was certainly not to be expected at the end of August. The day began in the exclusive Hamburg Harbor Club, which opens its doors at the St. Pauli Piers for club members only.

Hellmann Air & Sea “A big one among the little ones”

Jochen Freese welcomed his guests at the Harbor Club on behalf of Hellmann and introduced them to our company. According to the Chief Commercial Officer, a family-owned company the size of a corporate group is quite unique in the world of global full-service logistics service providers. Our corporate philosophy in particular makes Hellmann a very special company. With almost one million sea freight containers handled each year, Hellmann Air & Sea is one of the “big among the small” in the industry, a market share of almost two percent, but nonetheless, still leaves room for growth.

Johannes Saade, Product Manager Seafreight, then outlined the development of global sea freight from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day, in which more and more ships of the 21k TEU class are crossing the oceans. The many details illustrated by the sea freight expert were exciting. He calculated that a single one of today’s container giants could carry the annual Germany-wide demand for cigarettes of more than 75 billion units – and thus generate tax revenues of more than EUR 20 billion for the treasury alone.

Maritime and rich in history we went on, as the harbor tour with the typical harbour barge was next on the agenda. Captain Sasse, a Hamburg original, took us across the Elbe, past the “Elbphilharmonie”, Hamburg’s new landmark, and the St. Pauli Piers, over to the Eurogate container terminal. With a smoky voice, the retired captain gave anecdotes from his rich wealth of experience. After the detour to the Waltershof harbour, our round trip led under the Köhlbrand bridge, which is with a height of 53 meters already too low for the modern container giants, and back to the Walterhof jetty, from where we continued by land to the Eurogate terminal. Eurogate Managing Director Marcel Egger received the “Hellmann Travel Group” there. From the sixth floor of the company headquarters, directly between the harbor basin and the highway A7, the busy “unloading and loading” of the ships was impressive to see.

Then we took the bus over the countless bridges of Wilhelmsburg and the ancient “Speicherstadt” with its countless historic warehouses, past the Alster to the Hotel Grand Elysee. Jochen Freese acted as a tour guide with microphone in the first row. After a short refreshment break, the guests arrived in a festive cloakroom for a joint dinner, during which Jochen Freese and Norberts Frings of the Prettl Group were solemnly appointed Senators h. c. of the BVMW Economic Senate. A fitting conclusion for a top-class event, which Hellmann personally brought closer to the guests, many of whom have not yet worked with us, as a versatile and competent company. After all, such network events, especially in the logistics business, where trust is regarded as the highest value, are a means not to be underestimated in order to open up new contacts and customer potential, Jochen Freese summed up.

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