Thanks to Graaco, a logistics service provider in Coevorden, customers can have their goods transported more sustainably than by air freight, but faster than by cargo ship. The company was founded in 2009, but has become the only company in the Netherlands that is directly connected to the Dutch, German and European rail network.
For example, trains are currently running between Coevorden and Rotterdam, Scandinavia, Germany and Central and Eastern Europe. Graaco is currently working on a direct train connection between Coevorden and China (the exceptionally-named ‘C2C’ route). For road-borne freight, Graaco’s location near the A28 and A37 arterial roads, and the German A31, is very favourable.
Graaco’s clients include both production and trading companies. Accordingly, they have built expertise in “value-added logistics”, offering services such as storage, packing (or re-packing), and customs clearance.
“All the ingredients for doing business are present in Drenthe,” says Ben Blog, Graaco’s CEO. For example, Graaco has 200,000 m2 of floor space, suitable for many forms of storage and additional logistics services, but it’s not only the availability of space in Coevorden that is an advantage.
Blog points out that Drenthe offers many benefits, in addition to entrepreneurship on a personal level. In particular, a real work-life balance can be maintained in the province. “In 2014, Marketing Drenthe made a movie in which I was filmed on the beautiful heath near my home town not far from Coevorden. It fully reflects how I am experiencing working and living in Drenthe”, he said.
Blog is equally happy with Graaco’s recruits from the province: “they are highly motivated and solution-oriented”, he says. These qualities pair well with Graaco’s future ambitions: “companies are increasingly interested in (a part of) outsourcing of their transport and logistics activities to qualified logistics service suppliers.”
Blog wants to concentrate more on sustainability and cost-efficiency in the coming years. The new direct rail connection from Coevorden to- and from China can be an option in achieving a more efficient way of transportation. Moreover, it will become a lot more sustainable to transport freight by rail: “The transportation by boat takes six weeks or more, while by train this takes only about fifteen to twenty days’’.
At Graaco’s facility in Coevorden, a gleaming new grain terminal has just been opened: it will help acquire grain products from countries in Eastern and Southern Europe. A covered receiving hopper has been built on the railway, so that complete ‘grain trains’ can be unloaded via a closed system. This grain terminal is directly connected to Rotterdam and Europe and, in the future, Graaco will focus even more on increasing its position in the food and feed sector.
“Whether it will be by road, rail or water, it is ultimately important that Graaco, as a freight manager, chooses the right route in consultation with its customers and relations,” according to Blog.