19 + 2 = 21?
The Riege Review 2021
The year '21 was dominated by two numbers. The 19 in COVID and the 2 in CO. At the beginning of the year we - and millions of other people - hoped that we would be able to both overcome the pandemic and reduce CO₂ emissions with greater speed, we were taught otherwise. New virus variants and old arguments against faster-acting CO₂ reduction measures brought us back down to earth. But that did not stop us from launching our own initiatives and taking our own measures. Because it is not in our nature to be passive in the face of need. The results – despite all the adverse circumstances – give us reason to rejoice. For Riege – and most of our customers – the year 2021 was positive in many respects. The figures speak for themselves.
COVID-19 – the 4th wave broken internally
Once again the pandemic claimed significantly more victims, and we must still treat each other considerately, even more considerately than before, take responsibility for ourselves and others. This includes strict internal compliance and even over-fulfillment of the prescribed measures to protect against infection with the constantly mutating Corona virus. Home office and thus as little on-site presence as possible have been part of this from the very beginning. Since November, proof of vaccination or having recovered together with a free rapid test before entering the offices, has been obligatory. Putting the well-being of the community above the well-being of the individual has saved us and our staff from the worst, namely the health consequences of the fourth wave of the pandemic.
1.5 metres and 10 cocktails
Of course, keeping the required distance inside the premises was a top priority. But that didn't stop us from getting closer on a human level. Whether in the Riege Family or in the Scope Community, we used every form of digital communication to stay in touch with each other and to even deepen contacts.
A particularly successful example we would like to mention is the Virtual Cocktail Group. This meets online on Friday evenings for an informal get-together and thus more than complies with the physical distance rule. The participants from all areas of logistics were the source of inspiration for a collection of 10 new cocktail creations, which bear names with an affinity to the industry and have been published under the meaningful title “Cocktail Consol”.
1 year of Human Responsibilities
The achievements of our HR team deserve special mention, which is why we have given it the resonant second name Human Responsibilities. Everything that HR has additionally initiated and implemented this year has been more than sporting and deserves the distinction of being “for the good of the team”. Instead of the popular Riege summer parties and Christmas celebrations, team days were introduced, which allowed employees to get together in small groups – in compliance with all rules and regulations – and to further strengthen the team spirit.
The home office concept, which was implemented in 2020 and requires 0% presence on site, has proven its worth. Online communication is working great – including conducting job interviews. Almost all job interviews have taken place 100% online and have led to successful new hires. The 100% home office concept has been enthusiastically accepted and the online onboarding of new team members has also worked very well. That's why we are already thinking about the office concept of the future: fewer permanently installed, more flexible workplaces with less space requirements and energy consumption. The office will become a place of encounter.
To ensure the strategic development of our company, we have introduced the Agile Health Check. Employees can make constructive suggestions that are put into practice as best they can. We have also replaced the annual International Meeting at our headquarters in Germany with four virtual Quarterly International Meetings. This has created a platform for international cooperation and the internal exchange of thoughts and ideas even in times of pandemic. This concept will be continued in 2022. But we can hardly wait to come together again in the future, not only on a human level, but also as people.
17 networks – 8 workgroups – 6 events
Connecting people in the world of logistics is our core concern. Which is why we participate – locally and now more and more virtually – in a large number of initiatives and associations with the aim of supporting them in building networks. Riege is actively represented in 17 networks and in 8, mainly IATA workgroups. Particularly noteworthy in 2021 is our contribution to pushing the ONE Record initiative, where we have provided ample impetus for further development with numerous verbal contributions. Accordingly, Riege has become a spokesperson for digitization in logistics. Speeches by Riege were appreciated at the ACCF and the DVZ, as was our participation in the ONE Record Hackathon jury.
Although conferences and events in 2021 were very limited, we were directly on site four times. With a stirring speech at the Air Cargo Conference in Frankfurt. With our “One System. One Record” promise at TransLogistica in Warsaw, at SCN Security in Barcelona and at Logistics World in Mexico City, where we were particularly successful, making contact with 71 potential new customers. Participating twice in the virtual GLN conferences also paid off. 20 new users in 2021, 30 more in 2022. A growing band of forwarding companies are making the switch from wherever to Scope, and this speaks for itself.
From 100 to 107 in one step
The largest community to which we belong and to which we have been committed since the company was founded is the large community of the international logistics industry. Although the global flow of goods continues to move despite Corona, our customers are also affected by the general market situation. They can still earn money, but they have to invest more time per shipment.
The labour market is empty and with no chance of hiring new employees, all extra work has to be managed with existing staff. This is an obstacle to growth. That's why we are constantly working on automating processes using Scope and thus speeding up workflows. Scope is fast, but we always do everything we can to make it even faster and wherever possible avoid any additional work for the operators.
A current example is Scope Connect, which we are continuing to develop with all our might. Scope Connect will be another milestone for our customers in making communication with importers and shippers faster and more efficient. The integration of self-service options will enable shippers to retrieve the information they need without having to interact with the forwarder’s operators. As a result, the forwarder’s staff can concentrate on the truly value-adding tasks such as customer loyalty, customer acquisition and accelerated order processing.
Other functionalities and services that we have made available to our customers this year are the Scope Top Feature Panel and the Scope Status Page. This way, we have become even closer to them virtually. In addition, we have connected Scope to the new interface of the EU Commission for the RA/KC web service (Regulated Agents and Known Consignors). Now this data is retrieved directly from the database, which provides additional technical stability and security to act according to legal requirements.
Knowing that supply chains – especially in and outside US ports – can come under severe pressure, we will be specifically expanding features for container tracking in the upcoming year.
ONE Record aka 1R
Talking about ONE Record is one thing. Advancing ONE Record is the other. Through our participation in the ONE Record workgroup, we have done substantial groundwork, but above all we have also taken the initiative ourselves. We developed a converter for the standardization of data in air freight and this has already proven itself in practice. All process participants can exchange their data via the converter using their own systems, each of which occupies a specific niche in the supply chain.
The converter, which is based on the latest ontology 1.1, transfers XFWB data in 1R data structure. The open source model allows all participants to freely use it, modify and do more. Thus, the basis for the technical 1R infrastructure is created. To give the whole thing an appropriately attractive face, we are developing an appealing user interface in parallel and will also give the child its own name. We will see more in 2022. So very soon.
CO₂ reduction in logistics – soon feasible with Scope
Many of our customers set sustainability goals and want to reduce their CO₂ footprint. Sustainability begins with the prevention of unnecessary transport routes and the determination of optimum routes. Forwarders who want to reduce their CO₂ emissions therefore need to know how much of the climate-damaging gas their cargo movements currently emit. This is the only way to quantify how effective projects to reduce emissions are in the medium and long term.
There are various methods for documenting current emissions and identifying potential savings. It is our goal to integrate appropriate tools into Scope, but we will not decide on our own which tools should be used. A survey on the CO₂ issue and the translation, i.e. implementation or integration of a CO₂ calculator in Scope, will show us the ideal route. The need is there, the demand even more so. And so we will act.
One company – 124 people – 6 countries
Corona has not left all our customers unscathed. As a result, we witnessed fewer message transmissions and more de-registered users. And of course the uncertain outlook due to the pandemic also impacted the willingness of some potential new customers to invest.
Nevertheless, the increasing acceptance of Scope and the tireless efforts of our salespeople and branch managers – even on a virtual level – more than compensated for the shortcomings. Scope is now present in 50 countries worldwide, and the number of users has risen from 6,600 to 9,450 within this year. As it is our style not to generate growth on the backs and at the expense of our employees, we have strengthened our team in almost all countries and are now represented by 124 people in 6 countries.
- Germany: A whopping 55 new customers were acquired, including a customer from the animal logistics sector. All of these came from our favourite target group, SMEs. This enabled us to further expand our leading position in this segment. 14 new employees, including 3 trainees and one temporary employee, ensure that the team is adequately strengthened and now has 96 employees. 2 more will be added at the beginning of 2022.
- The Netherlands: The new offices in Bodegraven, strategically located halfway between Schiphol and Rotterdam, offer more space for more employees. And that's a good thing. 20 new customers have provided a growth spurt. In the Benelux region, Riege now serves over 170 clients with more than 2,000 users. To reinforce the 6 employees, one person has been added this year and another will start in January 2022.
- Switzerland: In the meantime, 330 users have ensured an increase in turnover of 40% in 2021. A major contributor to this success has been the extensions and increasing automation of Swiss customs applications. Having demonstrated our competence in this area, the Swiss customs authorities appointed us to the committee for the future customs system PASSAR. We have taken this development into account with a new appointment and now serve the Swiss market with 6 people.
- USA: Despite the adverse conditions such as the endless traffic jams in front of the US ports and infinitely high spot rates, the US team, which is still quite small, was able to win 5 new customers at the new location in Stevenson/Washington. With the addition of one new colleague, 3 colleagues are now looking after customers and new business in the USA.
- Mexico: Contrary to all expectations, the second year of the pandemic was a year of growth. The team is now 9 employees and were able to gain a total of 15 new customers in 2021. The presence at the Logistics World fair in Mexico City has also paid off, especially when looking to the future, with 71 candidates lined up as potential new customers. The existing 8 employees, now strengthened to 9, can look positively into 2022.
- Hong Kong: Due to global and local circumstances, the activities of our 3 employees in Hong Kong had to be limited to the support of existing customers. It remains to be seen what the future will bring. Our optimism is unbroken.
No numbers – no limits
It is a good old tradition in the Riege family to do good and not talk about it. For the Riege company, however, we are happy to make an exception. For example, the open communication of the commitment of our Dutch colleagues in Haiti has led to customers also getting involved. Even years after the great earthquake, the situation on the ground is unbearable for many people. By supporting the Stichting Naar School project, we were able to alleviate the hardship of at least some people together with customers and friends.
A dramatic event that moved the world in 2021 was the political change in Afghanistan and the consequences for the people in the country, especially girls and women. A group of staff members launched a campaign almost overnight and donated part of the team's budget to an organization in Afghanistan that works on the ground for the interests of females affected. However much or little can be achieved, it is better than nothing. We remember: Riege focuses on the – individual – human being.
70 years and 131 books
The two most beautiful and impressive figures are of a more private nature. On 2021-03-26, company founder Johannes Riege celebrated his 70th birthday in good health and as a happy pensioner. He enjoys spending time with his wife Gabriele during joint holiday trips, as long as her unbroken commitment to the company allows it. He hits the odd golf ball every now and then. And he devotes himself passionately to his favourite subject: literature. As a man of numbers, he has naturally logged his consumption of books – from brilliant fiction to intriguing non-fiction. In 2021, he read 131 books so far. And the year is not over yet.