"Only those who know the past have a future!" We have compiled our company history in keeping with this insight of Wilhelm von Humboldt. Here you can click through the milestone years of the Rudolph Logistics story. Starting with the founding of the company in 1946, through highs and lows, until the exciting developments of the present day.
Haulage contractorIn the North Hessen village of Guntershausen (now Baunatal) in Germany, Justus Rudolph establishes a transport company. This is not a simple project because suitable vehicles as well as oil and diesel fuel are in short supply in post-war Germany. And on top of this, the business needs to be registered with the authorities. But Justus Rudolph sees his chance precisely in this difficult economic situation. Everywhere lumber, cement, stones and other building materials are needed for rebuilding homes, businesses, streets and infrastructure – and this all needs to be transported. On 13 November 1946, Justus Rudolph receives the approval for the establishment of a short-range haulage company after several unsuccessful attempts.
The first steps are modest ones. Using old parts, his sons Hans and Karl build a truck with a wood-gas carburetor and officially join the business one year later. The company J. Rudolph & Sons is officially in business.
Post-war years and reconstructionDuring its first ten years, the company is transporting almost exclusively for the construction industry. An important milestone in the development of the young business is the first approval for long-distance haulage that is granted at the end of 1950. Now transportation beyond the immediate region is possible and the business area expands considerably.
1957 is the first year of work together with the automobile industry. In Altenbauna (close to the Rudolph headquarters), Volkswagen builds a new factory, which soon develops into the company's second-largest production facility in Germany. Rudolph already has a role transporting gravel in the construction phase of the factory, and in 1960 the company opens up a new business field with factory-to-factory transports for Volkswagen.
Getting started with warehousingThe contract to provide regional freight forwarding for North Hessen, South Lower Saxony and parts of East Westphalia brings new changes to Rudolph & Sons. A transshipment center is necessary to handle this business and a former dance hall not far from the VW factory is quickly converted to serve this purpose. The first office is in an adjacent room of the dance hall.
A large piece of land opposite the dance hall has already been purchased as an interim solution for the new challenges facing the company. In 1963 the company headquarters is built here – a one-story structure with four offices and 800 square meters of warehouse and goods-handling space.
Now there is enough space available to develop business in goods consolidation in addition to transport. By the mid-1960s, Rudolph & Sons now has a second source of revenue in addition to its activities for the automobile industry.
A new generation in the companyCompany founder Justus Rudolph steps back from the operative business of the company. His sons Hans and Karl take over responsibility for operations. And they also get their own children involved in the business from an early age.
Jürgen Rudolph, son of Karl Rudolph, comes to the company in 1969; Werner Rudolph, son of Hans Rudolph, follows him in 1971. From 1974, Hans Rudolph's son-in-law Gottfried Kretschmer also joins the company. In the following years, the responsibilities come to be split in three areas: Jürgen Rudolph is responsible for the areas transport and consolidation; Werner Rudolph handles the automotive business; and Gottfried Kretschmer is responsible for finance, administration and human resources.
Making a modern logistics companyIn 1971 Rudolph acquires the freight forwarding company Hildebrandt and establishes a first subsidiary in Seesen, Lower Saxony, thus achieving two objectives: Additional contracts for short and long-distance transport and also a business location that is closer to the Volkswagen factories in Hannover and Salzgitter. Further new locations in Edermünde-Grifte south of Kassel and in Unterföhring close to Munich are soon added.
And the company is not only growing in Germany. Transports from and to Belgium are the first venture into cross-border long-distance freight forwarding. Transport operations to Antwerp, from Petras in Greece, to Sarajevo and to Brussels are added to the business.
And the company headquarters in Baunatal is also impacted by this expansion. Growth in the consolidation business results in an extreme shortage of space and the consolidation hall is expanded to 1,500 square meters. The business offices are also expanded, a very necessary move as temporary offices had been set up in the homes of the Rudolph families who have their residences directly adjacent to the company premises.
The expansion is supported through the establishment of a high-performance data-processing system. Rudolph & Sons is working with its own IT system already in 1973.
The next new generation
The death of Hans Rudolph at the age of 60 on 7 September 1983 marks a sharp break in the company history. Responsibility for the company is now assumed by Jürgen Rudolph, Werner Rudolph and Gottfried Kretschmer.
At the same time the company structure is changed. The general partnership is converted into a limited liability company (GmbH), "J. Rudolph & Söhne Internationale Spedition".
The transformation to a logistics service provider begins. With the start-up of a modern logistics warehouse in Lohfelden (close to Kassel), Rudolph is now also providing order picking to customers.
An era of cooperative venturesIn the mid-1980s it becomes clear that a freight forwarder providing consolidation services needs to be able to operate throughout Germany to ensure business success. The more or less loose connections with various forwarding companies in other parts of Germany are not sufficient to handle these requirements. Cooperative ventures are established. Rudolph & Sons joins the IDS, an association of freight forwarders established in 1982. The four cooperation partners belonging to the association establish common depots at central locations so that their various consolidation processes can be better distributed. Uniform conditions for partners and customers make the work easier.
Together with 24 other medium-sized forwarding companies, Rudolph establishes the package service German Parcel (today GLS) and enters the fully new business field of parcel logistics. What starts with perhaps three or four packages to Baunatal each day quickly develops into a great success. Six years later it is approximately 6,000 packages arriving daily.
DiversificationThe Rudolph Logistics Group acquires four subsidiaries of the LOG SPED Group located in Seesen, Ingolstadt and Loiching in Germany and in Györ in Hungary. With this move, the company not only strengthens its position in automotive logistics but also establishes the basis for a new business field in consumer goods logistics. With its first foreign location in Györ, the company is also in a position to handle the growing market in Eastern Europe. The number of employees doubles in one step to 800. One year later, the consumer goods cooperation group CODIS becomes involved at the locations Ingolstadt and Seesen.
With the increasing focus on the business fields of automotive and consumer goods logistics, the question arises whether activities in other business fields should be reduced or eliminated. National postal companies are benefiting from a liberalization of the market and are acquiring private postal companies. This leads to strong competition in the parcel business field which cannot be handled successfully in the long run. In 1999, Rudolph together with all the other partners in German Parcel sell their shares to the British Post.
Winning awardsWith the beginning of a new millennium, Rudolph can present itself as a modern service company that has little in common with the haulage company of the founder Justus Rudolph.
In its international business, the company now makes a move towards the west. Together with Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, Osnabrück, joint ventures are established which should handle automobile logistics projects in Great Britain. Company locations in Luxembourg and Portugal soon follow.
A new business field – fulfillment – emerges through the continual increase in Internet commerce. With Logeon® Rudolph presents a logistical all-in-one solution for effective fulfillment of orders for industry and trade. The handling of customer orders from order receipt through warehousing, order picking, shipment and payment is provided to customers through a single source.
In 2001, the automotive segment of the Rudolph Logistics Group in Baunatal and Györ is the first company in Hessen and Hungary to be certified in accordance with the quality standard VDA 6.2. In the same year, Rudolph is awarded the German Internet Prize 2001 for its Logeon® service. In 2004, Volkswagen gives its newly established Quality Award to the Rudolph Logistics Group as the best regional forwarding company of the year.
Concentration on logistic servicesAs of 1 January 2005, Rudolph & Sons sells its parcel good services at the Baunatal location to DFDS Transport. With this move, the Rudolph Logistics Group concentrates entirely on contract logistics solutions.
At a greenfield site in the South of Hessen in Lorsch, the foundation for a highly impressive development is laid: In the space of six months from the commencement of construction to the start-up of operations, a distribution center for a large technology company is built.
And what works in South Hessen in Germany, also functions on the Arabian Peninsula. Together with Audi Volkswagen Middle East (AVME) and the joint-venture partner Hellmann, Rudolph opens a logistic center in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) at the beginning of 2007. This is the company's first large project outside of Europe.
A new generation (once again)Torsten Rudolph – the grandson of the company founder Justus Rudolph – assumes the partnership shares of Marianne Kretschmer and Werner Rudolph on 1 January 2007. Together with his father Jürgen Rudolph he is now the CEO of the Rudolph Logistics Group.
Werner Rudolph retains his CEO position but through the end of 2008 steps back from more and more of his functions. On 31 December 2008 he leaves the company after 38 years of service.
At the same time steps are being taken to restructure the company. Until now the structure has been strongly oriented to the various locations. Now the company needs a new structure that can reflect the development of the preceding years with more and more businesses and locations. Starting in 2008, Rudolph Logistics Group is organized on the basis of business fields across different locations. The new business divisions are Automotive Logistics, Transportation, Manufacturing Logistics, Fulfillment and Consumer Goods Logistics.
A difficult period
The economic crisis triggered by difficulties in the banking and finance sector also has an impact on Rudolph – and the whole logistics sector. The badly shaken automobile industry and its suppliers are among Rudolph's main customers. In this period the decisions of previous years to develop certain areas and terminate others pay off. In the crisis year 2009 the company is able to acquire new customers in each business division or to develop existing customers.
In the field of consumer goods, a large company in the organic food sector contracts with Rudolph to handle the management of its central distribution center in Lorsch, Germany. Following the expansion of the distribution center and the construction of a second new logistics facility for the spare part logistics of a machinery manufacturer, there is now a third mainstay for the company in Lorsch.
Route 6666 years after the founding of the company by Justus Rudolph as a haulage business in a garage in Guntershausen, the company has not lost any of the dynamism that has propelled it throughout its history.
In this year, three new logistics centers are opened. The largest of these is located in Volkmarsen in North Hessen. A facility with 50,000 square meters for the warehousing and distribution of Volkswagen Original Parts is brought into operation. The Lorsch location also continues to grow. In September a multi-use center is opened. And in Györ, Hungary, a new supplier park is brought into the business through the expansion of the Audi factory located there.
Rudolph celebrates its 66th anniversary with a big summer festival for employees at the headquarters in Kassel. The motto for the event, in keeping with the anniversary year, is "Route 66". And in keeping with this theme, there's bull riding, a sheriff star workshop for kids, and a photo booth for wanted posters. And to make the atmosphere complete - genuine country music.
Advancing into the big leaguesThe growth through the previous years catapults the Rudolph Logistics Group into a new dimension. In a period of 24 months, the number of employees doubles to over 5,000 and managed logistic space grows by 50 percent. To accommodate this, the company again adjusts its organizational structure. In addition to the operative units, the central divisions such as human resources, logistic planning or controlling also grow.
And this in turn brings other new projects: A health management system for employees is put into place, and for the first time Health Days are organized with valuable suggestions for healthy and stress-free working practices for employees. An internal trainer provides ongoing support in subjects such as communication, time management and goal realization.