Determined, consistent, level-headed. You can sense the dynamism and passion for his work that lie behind his usually calm demeanour: Klaus Schädle, Group Area Managing Director.
The man from the South
Mr Schädle, how did you end up in logistics?
It must be in my DNA. My dad was the managing director of a haulage company, where I also helped out as a youngster. I soon realised that I enjoyed moving goods from A to B and that it was a job with good prospects.
You are now responsible for GLS in Italy, Austria, and France. What does a typical week look like for you?
Generally speaking, my day begins at 6 a.m. with a spot of exercise and a quick breakfast. I travel from the beautiful Allgäu region to Milan on Mondays. I have meetings during the day – and often in the evening too. I travel all across Italy, meeting our franchisees in our about 160 locations. I usually travel to Austria on Thursdays, where General Manager Dr Axel Spörl takes care of business in my absence. We work together very closely and efficiently. Right now I travel through France a lot to get to know the depots and employees. I am looking forward to the new tasks and experiences.
GLS operates its own sites in Italy, but also works with franchisees. Why is this the case?
Historically speaking, GLS Italy grew out of the franchise system Corriere Executive, which has been a wholly owned subsidiary of GLS since 2001. In northern Italy and in Rome we operate the majority of the GLS-owned sites. We cover most of the regions in the country with our 60 franchisees, although it doesn’t make any difference in terms of the GLS system and for our customers – as we adhere to the same standards, from Brixen in South Tyrol to Syracuse in Sicily. From parcels to pallets, we transport whatever the customer wants – in the way they want it.
Is this system successful?
It certainly is! Despite the economic crisis affecting the country, GLS Italy has doubled its consignment volume over the past four years, with the share attributable to B2C having risen to around 50 per cent. We are the number two in the Italian market – and have been leader in quality for many years.
To what extent has your time in Italy changed you?
I feel very much at home in Italy, but I am always happy to be in Austria too. One of their strengths is the ability to respond quickly and flexibly to new situations and challenges. We start by identifying opportunities to develop our business and then weigh up the risks. Coupled with the dependability and reliability that are often regarded as typical German traits, this is the foundation of our success.
Is flexibility important for the future?
Yes, because the market is evolving all the time – especially due to the flourishing online retail sector. In the growing 2C market, we need innovations on the last mile – for deliveries – that combine standardised processes with flexible solutions.
Sustainable urban logistics concepts are a particular challenge – and one that varies from city to city. In Italy, we are experimenting with a wide variety of approaches, including electric vehicles, bicycles and couriers on inline skates. We pursue a hands-on mentality in this regard, which means just doing something instead of talking about it at length and not worrying about whether or not it will work.
In your opinion, what are the most important skills for an executive?
An executive has to be familiar with the processes within the system and understand the workflows. They have to have time for their employees and customers – and have to be level-headed and, most importantly, predictable. I think this is the only way to build a motivated team that gets behind you and that enjoys the work. I love my job and seek to share this passion with my employees on a daily basis.
And how do you relax?
To get the balance right, I attach great importance to work-free weekends, during which I enjoy spending time with family and friends – including over sporting activities such as cycling, skiing and mountaineering.