An interview with Hermann Lanfer, managing partner of Lanfer Transporte GmbH & Co. KG in Meppen and chairman of the Administrative Board of Kombiverkehr
Hermann Lanfer has been chairman of the Administrative Board of Kombiverkehr since the end of July 2020, having been a member of the Administrative Board since 2014. The 55-year-old is the third generation to head up chemical logistics provider Lanfer Transporte GmbH & Co. KG of Meppen. Hermann Lanfer completed apprenticeships as a car mechanic and logistics manager before studying business economics at the German Foreign Trade and Transport Academy (DAV) in Bremen. Among other places, he worked at Kühne + Nagel in Vancouver before returning to the family business. Hermann Lanfer has six children, three of whom are currently training with the company.
Mr Lanfer, you have been chairman of the Administrative Board of Kombiverkehr since the end of July 2020. What spurs you on?
Climate protection is a global challenge to which the transport sector makes an essential contribution – especially Combined Transport, the core business of Kombiverkehr for over 50 years now. The principle of CT is simple: take the railway for long journeys and only use trucks for first and final legs. This means we make sustained use of the railway over long distances, which is a far more eco-friendly mode of transport, and we make huge savings in CO2 emissions: in the case of Kombiverkehr over 1 million tons in the past year alone. The freight forwarding industry wants its end-to-end transport operations to reduce CO2 today and even achieve zero carbon emissions tomorrow – we are ready. Here at Kombiverkehr, we are a big part of the solution on the way to reaching national and European climate targets. We are needed, we are relevant to climate protection. This ambitious goal spurs me on.
What do you actually do at Kombiverkehr in order to reach this goal?
I would like to mention five main points:
- We are continually expanding our national and international rail network – today, for example, we provide fast rail services to connect leading economic centres and industry clusters. The ‘Metro-Net’ is set to make everything even faster in future, with some services several times a day.
- We are consolidating our holdings in CT terminals so that we can play an active role in developing transport and handling processes directly on site at key hubs.
- Digitalisation is a game changer and we want to be a leading player in this area over the long term.
- We talk with CT target customers directly, an approach we refer to as ‘Combi coaching’. We explain to them what a forwarder needs to be aware of before branching out into CT: organisation, pricing, equipment, possible starting points, transport guidelines and other frameworks.
- We hope to expand our circle of limited partners: every forwarder on board with us is an ambassador for intermodal transport – and an active protector of the climate at the same time.
In short, we will optimise service, networking and digitalisation in a way that best allows us to attract to rail those forwarders who to date have only used the road.
DB Cargo is a 50 % shareholder: how does your partnership work?
Our partnership works in such a way that every stakeholder derives maximum benefit: firstly the forwarders, secondly the carriers and ultimately of course our climate. Together with DB Cargo we have drawn up a guide for future cooperation which clearly stipulates what goals we will pursue collectively and how tasks are distributed. We are on an equal footing of course. And one thing is and will remain clear: Kombiverkehr is committed to neutrality. It’s an ideal basis on which to work.
Are you thinking of any additional funding instruments in order to push Combined Transport?
We need to support that part of the value creation chain that brings cargo – and that’s the freight forwarders. I think two approaches are constructive: an incentive scheme to make it attractive for forwarders to switch over to CT, and a carbon fee and dividend scheme that allocates a specific amount for every consignment transported by rail. We are working in close consultation with the BMVI to design these funding instruments with due regard for fair competition.
Chairman of the Administrative Board of Kombiverkehr and managing partner of your own company Lanfer Transporte GmbH & Co. KG in Meppen – how do you find the time to do both?
Well, I’ve managed to free up some time in my own company, where I’ve been focusing on strategic tasks since the start of 2021. My managing directors Tobias Ewers, Michael Kirschner and Dennis Egbersmich have plenty of experience and they look after the operational side of the business. So I can put my mind to moving forward with Kombiverkehr.
Thank you for talking to us, Mr Lanfer.
Kombiverkehr company details (2020)
- Founded 1969 in Frankfurt am Main
- Limited partnership with 225 forwarding companies and DB Cargo in equal partnership
- Germany’s largest intermodal network
- International network covering industrial centres in over 25 countries
- Over 220 terminals Europe-wide
- 170 train departures per day
- Transport volumes 858,079 truck consignments or 1.72 million TEU
- CO2 savings of customers: 1.005 million tons
- Sales 397 million euros
- Other business fields: expansion and operation of handling facilities, development and maintenance of special wagons, as well as consultancy.
The Administrative Board consists of members of DB Cargo AG as well as elected representatives of forwarders and transport companies registered as limited partners. Voting is equal, i.e. the representatives of the freight forwarders and of DB Cargo AG each have a block vote of 50 per cent. The tasks of the Administrative Board are essentially the same as those of a supervisory board of a stock corporation. It establishes the criteria for corporate policy, approves extraordinary transactions and monitors the activities of management.