Alex Andersen Ølund A/S is one of the biggest Scandinavian transport companies for plants and flowers. The family-run business operates in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and several other European countries. It’s also the main service provider for Container Centralen in Scandinavia. For many years, ‘AA’ and ‘CC’ have had a close relationship. And recently, that bond has – literally – become even closer.
His career path is a little bit like the American dream, relocated to Denmark. As a young man, in the 1990s, Jan Andersen joined the family business as a lorry driver. Fast forward to 2019, he is Alex Andersen’s managing director, working in close cooperation with his brothers Ib and Tommi.
International and domestic
“Our core business, ever since our company was established in 1964, is transporting plants and flowers to and from various countries. In addition, we provide domestic transport within Denmark, mainly ferrying products from growers to supermarket distribution
centres”, Jan explains. “Within Scandinavia, apart from Denmark, we operate in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Elsewhere in Europe, we have a branch in Holland’s Kudelstaart near Aalsmeer, and we also operate in Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. This adds up to roughly 2,000 customers in total.”
Alex Andersen’s services are provided by a total workforce of 500. Its drivers are behind the wheel of around 250 lorries, “which grows to some 450 in the busy springtime”, Jan adds. “We take pride in providing tailor-made, full service solutions. Our customers can get transport, containers and container management in one package, including – if required – route planning, packaging and financial administration.”
Alex Andersen has been a customer of Container Centralen since the 1970s. The contract includes approximately 100,000 CC containers, plus an additional 30,000 which are hired by another supplier. Equally important, Jan adds, is Alex Andersen’s role as a business partner for Container Centralen. “We are CC’s main service provider in Scandinavia. We arrange 80% of exchanges of damaged material in this territory, via dedicated depots called Service Points. Three of these are in Denmark, in Odense, in Aarhus and in Greve, near Copenhagen. The other two are in Helsingborg, Sweden, and in Larvik, Norway. Annually, we collect 25,000 containers and 125,000 shelves from our customers and deal with these via our head office in Odense.”
Staying in touch
Be it as a customer, or as a business partner, Alex Andersen clearly shares a very close relationship with Container Centralen. “Absolutely”, Jan says. “We are a large player in this market, and so is CC. We need to keep things fresh and sharp, above all by staying in touch constantly. We meet up, in Odense, at least once a week. And our main focus is on quick repairs. They are of vital importance to our customers, especially in peak season.”
The closeness of the two companies’ relationship is literally visible in Odense. Here, both Alex Andersen and Container Centralen have their offices, a stone’s throw away from each other. “This has been the case for many years”, Jan continues. “But we operated from three separate terminals. Now we are moving into one large, brand-new terminal, only 800 metres away from CC’s building. This brings us even closer together. It will make our cooperation even more efficient. And our new terminal has a number of facilities which help us to make our operation better – such as a repair shop, a fuel station and places for our drivers to sleep.”
Whilst sticking to its traditional strengths and keeping it in the family, Alex Andersen is certainly not immune to 21st century innovations. Wherever possible, the transporter is keeping up with modern developments. The big new terminal has solar panels on its roof, which will contribute to the building’s energy needs. And Jan Andersen has another example: “A new app for our drivers, on their smartphones. This enables them to register what they load and unload, including the number of containers and shelves. It replaces the old-fashioned paperwork and makes our whole operation much more efficient.”