The charm of a medium-sized company – coupled with all the strengths of a corporate group

Reading time: approx. 5 minutes
Text: Juliane Gringer
Photos: Kukla

With its new location in Düsseldorf, Spedition Kukla has gained a foothold in the Rhine-Ruhr region. Managing Director Dennis Paul Mahnecke likes the flat hierarchies of the company, his team and he work together with the customers to find the transport solutions they really need in practice.

How does a company with a rich tradition and 80 years of company history position itself in line with the times? Spedition Kukla has found a successful answer to this question. “Due to our company size, we are so flexible and agile that we can also adapt to major customers and at the same time have the professionalism, know-how and all the strengths of a corporate group,” explains Dennis Paul Mahnecke, Managing Director at the company’s Düsseldorf location. “We don’t have to look for customers to adapt to us; we actively cater to each company.”

Switching between transport routes

Kukla has made a name for itself primarily with short-sea transports, including transports to the Canary Islands, Spain, Greece and Portugal. The portfolio has been expanded to include intermodal transports – and: “We also serve part loads and LCL transports, but our hobbyhorse is full load transports,” explains Mahnecke. The freight forwarder offers the option of switching between different transport routes. In this way, it not only meets customer requirements; this flexibility also promotes the issue of sustainability: “The focus does not necessarily have to be on truck transports. You can switch to short-sea transports or use intermodal transports.” Kukla manages over 200,000 square metres of storage space throughout Europe. Particularly in times of pandemic, it was possible to act flexibly on the market within the framework of contract logistics.

»We don’t have to look for customers to accommodate us, we actively cater to each business.«

Dennis Paul Mahnecke, Managing Director Kukla Düsseldorf

Waiting for the right personality

Dennis Paul Mahnecke has been managing the Düsseldorf location since spring 2021. He comes from Lüneburg, where he studied business administration at Leuphania University. He started his career with a global management trainee programme at the US logistics service provider C.H. Robinson, where he rose to become a sales and key account manager. The appointment of the now 37-year-old as Managing Director for Kukla in Düsseldorf came about when he was looking for a new professional challenge. The managing directors of the Munich-based haulage company, Olaf Böhm and Knut Sander, had been intending to gain a foothold in the Rhine-Ruhr region for some time, but didn’t want to force the issue. Instead, they wanted to wait for a really well-suited personality. Mahnecke reports: “The three of us had known each other for some time, got talking about a possible joint venture – and that’s how Kukla came to Düsseldorf.”

Lean and close to practice

Mahnecke also accepted the company’s offer because he likes working for an owner-managed medium-sized company with flat hierarchies. He is familiar with a partly similar model from his time at Codognotto, a family-owned Italian transport company that operates as a global 3PL service provider. For Codognotto, he had set up their German branch in Düsseldorf from 2013 and then managed it as Managing Director before moving to Eurofins Scientific in Hamburg in 2019. Mahnecke knew that the freight forwarder Kukla also relies on flat hierarchies – and that’s why the task appealed to him. “At Kukla, we are very close to the customer and very solution-oriented,” he now reports. “Instead of being too concerned with corporate structures, we operate very leanly, are really close to practice. Working directly with the colleagues who implement everything and with our customers – that’s what I particularly enjoy.”

»There should be more companies that truly understand what their customers need in order to concretely help them get their jobs done.«

Dennis Paul Mahnecke, Managing Director Kukla Düsseldorf

Continuously expanding digitality

He sees a clear niche: “There should be more companies that really understand what their customers need in order to concretely help them manage their tasks. There’s little point in telling stories about what could be possible, and you shouldn’t sugarcoat anything either. Rather, you have to implement what is really needed in practice. That’s exactly what we work out together with customers and then implement in everyday transport. ” Mahnecke has a particularly strong focus on the company’s digital development: “We have more and more digital connections with our customers, have built up a platform with subcontractors, among other things, and are continually expanding our digitality. “

Rhine-Ruhr area offers many potential talents

The region around Düsseldorf is not only exciting because there are many shippers and thus potential customers there, but the location is also an interesting market for employers, says Mahnecke. “While you quickly come up against limits when looking for employees in metropolises such as Munich or Hamburg, for example, 20 million people live here – around a quarter of the total German population,” explains the Managing Director. This potential of talent is a very attractive asset for Kukla. In addition, many start-ups have successfully developed new ideas in the region in recent years, so Kukla is also benefiting from trends here. “All of this means for us as Kukla in Düsseldorf that the opportunities here are great to get something off the ground.”

International and flexible

Being a very good employer for the talents in the company is also important to the management team at Kukla. Kukla offers flexible options for balancing family and career, finances or subsidises public transport tickets or rental bikes and also offers home office options beyond the pandemic, which is not a matter of course in medium-sized haulage companies. “We are very international and are happy about the diversity in the company. Above all, we want to be modern and offer a good working atmosphere,” says Mahnecke. Above all, he said, the pay at Kukla is fair and appreciative. “I believe that this is particularly important in our industry and has often been neglected in recent years.

Dennis Paul Mahnecke says his job fills him up: “I like our company, our philosophy and our team. Above all, it’s important for me to work with people who want to move forward with me. The decisive factor is that my team does not see our work purely as the performance of our duties, but rather brings with it a great deal of desire to find a creative path for the future. ” Because this works so well at Kukla, he also takes such pleasure in selling the company to employees, but also to customers: “Everything is very transparent, honest and appreciative here.”

Modern office space that remains attractive

The site manager now wants to expand the structures for the future that will continue to enable good working This includes, among other things, designing the offices accordingly. It is still unclear, for example, whether employees prefer to work in a home office or in the office: “We sense that many have the need to meet in person again, whether in the company or at trade fairs, congresses and events. “That is why Kukla is now considering what office concepts should look like so that they remain attractive and are also geared to the needs of employees. Customer acquisition continues to be at the top of Dennis Paul Mahnecke’s agenda, as is the retention of partners, including in the truck and rail sectors. “Since the company is also financially stable, we are in a good position, but we are also aiming for the next level and want to use digital tools to achieve more transactions per employee, create more efficiency, reach more customers – and enable even better customer service. “
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