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01/20/17

Bremen based Logistics Service Provider is a specialist for Liquids

The Bremen based logistics service provider Leschaco moves tank container across the world’s oceans – and business is booming.

The picture, which dominates the office of Jörg Conrad, shows a view of New York, which no longer exists: the Hudson River, the Battery Park and the World Trade Center. It is the view of Conrad's former workplace, which was recorded here. Once, the owner of Lexzau, Scharbau – in short Leschaco – worked in the US metropolis for the logistics company, which is located in Bremen. In the meantime, he has swapped a little office in the big City of New York against the five-story headquarters in the small town of Bremen.

Things go well for the company headquartered in the industrial port of Bremen. Leschaco grows. This is not only shown in the balance sheets, but also by the expansion at the Bremen site. . If everything goes according to plan, the contracts for a 160,000 square meter area will soon be signed in the Bremen Industrial Park. Here, Conrad wants to build a 30,000 square meter warehouse. There are already storage areas surrounding the main building in the industrial harbor, some of which are subleased. According to Conrad those spaces will soon become available. “We need the space” he says.

Mr. Conrad had to work hard to reach the top of the company.  As a result of a middle-ear inflammation, the 63-year-old can hear little and subsequently learned to speak late. He attended a deaf school and did not have the easiest starting conditions. Conrad was able to get an apprenticeship at the Bremer Landesbank.

Conrad gained a lot of experience abroad

After he successfully completed his final exam as a banker, he worked for a packaging company and studied at the German Foreign Trade and Transport Academy (DAV). Finally, Conrad went to New York, later on to Brazil, on behalf of his father’s company Leschaco.

At the beginning of the 1980s, he returned to Bremen and took over a subsidiary of Lexzau, Scharbau, which focused on tobacco and cotton. Shortly thereafter another relocation, this time to South Africa, where Conrad set up a new regional company.

This could have continued, which is when he experienced the great caesura: in 1985 his father Herbert died, the son being only 32 years old suddenly had to face the task of leading a whole company group. Gradually he familiarized himself with the overall operation and has been their sole Executive Director since 1992. He needed time to adapt to the new kind of responsibility. "I have taken things slowly," Conrad says.

The company expands worldwide

Ever since Leschaco has experienced a rapid growth: Conrad has advanced the company's international focus. "We followed the customers," he says. "We no longer regard Germany as the umbilicus of the world." Under the umbrella of the holding company, several subsidiaries have been established with new branches in Miami and Osaka this year alone.

An example of the expansion rate is the tank-container traffic. Almost 40 years to the day have passed, since the logistics service provider shipped its first tank containers from Bremerhaven to the US port of Houston on MV "Tillie Lykes". Tank containers are special containers made for the transportation of liquid and gaseous goods.

The business developed profitably and in 1978 Leschaco Inc. was founded – this was the start-up for the internationalization of the company group. In this sector alone, the company now moves 4000 tank containers worldwide. The services in this business area go far beyond the pure transportation from one port to the other. If requested by the customer, Leschaco clears the goods through customs and handles the on-carriage to the respective final destination of the containers.

A further wholly owned subsidiary is the Anker Schiffahrts-Gesellschaft. The company cooperates intensively with UPM Nordland paper factory in Dörpen, Emsland, among others. In this business, Leschaco tranships pulp, an important raw material in paper production, from seagoing vessels to barges in the harbour of Emden. In this process, the employees pay strict attention to cleanliness and purity. Furthermore, the material has to be dry, odour-free and free of all residues.

Lexzau, Scharbau, established in Hamburg in 1879, currently unites 42 companies with 60 offices and more than 2000 employees. Its focus is on the four business segments ocean freight, airfreight, tank container and contract logistics. Small and medium-sized businesses are just as much part of the Leschaco customer base as big names. In South East Asia it is handling transports and storage for Mercedes, BMW, Volvo and MAN.

“We have to see that we'll be among the front runners”, Jörg Conrad, Owner of the Leschaco Group

But the center of all action is still taking place within the industrial harbor of Bremen. A good 330 employees are handling the administration of their many subsidiaries. The projects in contract logistics are also managed in the Hansestadt. Leschaco employees can rely on a solid foundation: the striking building in Cape Horn Street, which resembles a vessel, was built at the end of the 1960s on the former world war bunker “Hornet”. "We enjoy being here," says Conrad, which is why the owner has recently invested heavily in the location.

Conrad knows the times when the industrial port looked quite differently. As a small boy, he visited with his father, Herbert Conrad, the warehouses in which the company was handling the VW Beetle. Later, Conrad helped out as a student. The company leader looks back: instead of using an EDP system, we were using a Hollerith card system, Adler and Olympia typewriters dominated the offices of the logistics provider. Today, of course, this is quite different, "It is understandable". "The business is constantly changing, and one must make sure to always pioneer developments."

Last year, the Group's sales rose by six percent to 720 million euros, and Conrad expects a growth of a similar magnitude this year. "It's going well," says the Leschaco owner. The company is also to remain within the family – Conrad's son Constantin is preparing to enter the company: with an apprenticeship at a shipping line and an economics-oriented study in Barcelona. "

He is to start here in Bremen and later on get himself acquainted with our subsidiaries abroad," he says. His role model within his own family is his father. He, too, is still and quite often on the road. He travels about half the year, says Conrad and wants to continue to do so for a few more years. Maybe until he has reached the age of 70, but the 63-year-old is still not quite sure.

Source: Weser Kurier, Issue No. 13 | 2017

Leschaco owner Jörg Conrad has substantially invested in the Bremen based headquarters