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Rhenus commits to iconic distribution centers and U.S. expansion (WITH VIDEO)

Image: Rhenus

Rhenus Logistics will roll out more of its iconic, eco-friendly distribution centers (DCs) as it expands its global network.

Enlargement of the third-party logistics (3PL) provider’s forwarding and logistics footprint in North America is top of the agenda.

Alphons van Erven, senior vice president of Germany-headquartered Rhenus Logistics, told FreightWaves “the money is there to invest” with Rhenus looking to build out its global network through organic growth and acquisitions.

“We have been making six to 10 acquisitions a year and we are building our global footprint. That strategy will continue, including building up our network in the U.S. where we currently don’t yet have a big presence,” he said.

Rhenus Logistics now employs over 31,000 people worldwide and declared revenues of 5.1 billion euros ($5.6 billion) in 2018.

At the end of last year Rhenus Logistics opened ‘Rhenus A58’ – locally known as The Tube. The DC is widely lauded as one of the world’s most innovative and sustainable, achieving a record 99.48% Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) score for an industrial building.

The DC, located on the A58 highway in Tilburg, The Netherlands, is fully bonded and features storage space of 60,400 square meters (650,000 square feet), 16,000 square meters of temperature-controlled mezzanine space and an Autostore storage system.

Rainwater is used to flush toilets and storage areas are open to daylight to improve working conditions. Most impressively, the center’s roof is fitted with 13,640 solar panels that generate 4.2 megawatts of electricity each year, more than 75% of which is sold and used to power local homes.

Speaking during a logistics tour organized by The Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, Erven told FreightWaves the design approach would next be deployed in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, “in the next three years” when an existing 110,000-square meter facility will be extended by 35,000 square meters. The expansion will be fitted with its own solar panels.

Similar constructions could soon come to the U.S. “In North America, we don’t have a big presence, but are looking at this type of design in France and Germany at the moment,” he said. “In the long run we will also do it in the U.S. That’s where we want to expand in the next five to 10 years.”

Rhenus offers a range of global and European logistics and forwarding services and has been expanding rapidly from its traditional strength in Europe, most notably in Asia but also through acquisitions in North America and Brazil. Earlier this year the 3PL acquired U.K.-based PSL Group. In April it purchased Miami-based freight forwarder and logistics solutions provider Freight Logistics, which at the time was its sixth acquisition of the year. And in March it acquired Canadian logistics company Rodair.

Erven said the life span of Rhenus A58 was expected to be at least 35 years but was unable to disclose the investment cost.

As in the U.S., attracting talent to the logistics industry is problematic in the Netherlands. Aside from its value as a DC, Erven said the design appeals to sustainability-conscious clients and helps the company attract workers in a tight labor market, “We are growing at 10% a year so we are constantly looking for ways to improve recruitment,” he said. “Offering workers a modern, light and clean space to work helps. We often have open job approaches from people who have seen the building and want to work here.”

He added, “We also have changed the company’s official language from German to English as we now employ people from all over the world.”