Achieving great things
Alexander Tonn has been COO Road Logistics at DACHSER since January 2021. The 48-year-old is responsible for the operations of the Road Logistics Business Field with its European Logistics and Food Logistics Business Lines. We talked to him about his experiences, network expertise, and personal goals.
Mr. Tonn, you took the wheel of Road Logistics at DACHSER in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. What were the biggest challenges?
The start to 2021 was a very intense and challenging time. In addition to the third wave of the pandemic, we had Brexit to deal with. Then there were extraordinary weather events in Germany and elsewhere. And all the while, the volumes in our network increased massively. Easing into the job wasn’t really an option.
How do you deal with stress like this?
In tense situations, I tend to become calmer and concentrate fully on the job at hand.
And how did your team cope?
As the Road Logistics Executive Unit, we communicated very intensively with the Regional Managing Directors and their oper-ating units in these challenging times. We pulled together and interacted very well. And in that sense, the pandemic helped us develop as a team. What was missing, however, was direct human contact. All the events were digital. It hasn’t been possible yet to have personal interactions—say at a Christmas party or at a get-together to break the ice. That’s a real pity. But I hope we can catch up on these things soon.
COO Road Logistics at DACHSER.
To what extent have your many years of experience in the company helped you in your new role?
I’ve been at DACHSER for 23 years, and I spent 15 of them getting to know all the operational aspects of our business very well. Many colleagues have walked the same roads alongside me, which gives me a strong platform for being open and frank about challenges. This is something I value and appreciate. Furthermore, I worked very closely with my predecessor Michael Schilling for many years in a relationship built on mutual trust. It was the ideal preparation for my new role.
Looking back, what milestones in your personal develop-ment and career do you think particularly shaped you?
I’ve had many formative experiences. During my time at the Memmingen branch, there were various contract logistics proj-ects that I was able to work on from the initial idea onward, taking in everything from customer meetings and costing to new construction works and operational implementation. That was always very instructive and exciting. Later I moved to the Head Office in Kempten; in six years as controller for contract logistics, which involved many trips throughout the organization, I was able to broaden my perspective on what DACHSER accomplishes in Europe and worldwide. Taking on additional responsibility when I became Managing Director European Logistics Germany in 2017 was another important step.
What insights in particular have guided you on your journey?
In these challenging times, we simply must become even more flexible, agile, and digital. Our customers are changing their market access points. They want to reduce complexity and digitalize their processes at an accelerating rate. A good example is trade, which is increasingly pursuing omnichannel strategies. We want to continue to meet these changed customer expectations with our usual DACHSER quality. Take DIY market logistics: in 2021, many procurement processes were not working as they normally would. This resulted in massive delays in lead times for seasonal goods due to delivery and capacity bottlenecks in sea freight. Products shipped from Asia for the Christmas season didn’t arrive in Europe at the end of the summer as usual. Naturally, everybody involved grew steadily more nervous. But with intelligent capacity and network management, we were able to offer our customers suit-able solutions in this situation.
Read the whole interview with Alexander Tonn, COO Road Logistics at DACHSER, in DACHSER magazine issue 01/22.