How EKB Container Logistik is making itself more attractive for skilled workers

The EKB Container Logistik GmbH & Co. KG from Bremen has specialised in national and international transport for more than 30 years. In addition to classic freight forwarding services, the company's range of services includes the loading, moving and setting down of containers, container storage and the SOLAS weighing service. EKB stands for flexibility, high quality and a modern vehicle fleet. Its customers include freight forwarders and shipping companies. Together with its partners in Northern and Eastern Europe, the company has a fleet of more than 840 trucks and 1000 container chassis. EKB Container Logistik itself operates around 230 trucks.

As with all service companies, EKB's success depends to a large extent on the commitment, reliability and customer focus of its employees. The workforce is therefore a high priority and the issue of 'employee retention' is high on the management's agenda: "It is very important to us that our employees feel comfortable and can identify with the company," reports Holger Schulz, Managing Director of EKB. "In late summer 2018, we therefore decided to provide our professional drivers and their female colleagues with uniform, high-quality work clothing at the company's expense. This was to express our special appreciation and, as a nice side effect, to strengthen our brand identity through a clear appearance to the outside world. In order to ensure that all these criteria were implemented, we sought professional advice in the selection process and attached great importance to high product quality," Schulz continues.

Detailed advice taken

Before the contract was awarded, EKB evaluated three traders. In the end, the winner was the Hoffmann Group, Europe's leading system partner for quality tools with a complete range of personal protective equipment (PPE). The Hoffmann Group was able to score points with comprehensive advice, a wide range of products and the best price-performance ratio. "We were presented with a complete range of equipment - from caps to shoes - and several alternatives," recalls the Managing Director. "The fact that we were able to obtain everything from a single source was another advantage. During a visit, experts from the manufacturer Mascot were also present to answer all our questions, which we found to be trustworthy and very positive". Another point in favour of the Hoffmann Group was that EKB had already had positive experience with the supplier when it came to equipping the company's own repair workshop with tools and workbenches. So the decision was not difficult.

Corporate design adhered to, special articles in desired colour

"The Hoffmann Group not only gave us optimal advice, but also implemented our special requests perfectly," remembers Schulz.

"It was important to us, for example, that the colour of the work clothing matches our company colours green, silver and black. However, the high visibility rain jackets initially offered were part of the catalogue range, and were in a shade of blue that did not match our corporate design. The jackets from the standard range were therefore out of the question," explains Schulz. Here the Hoffmann Group proved its worth by contacting other manufacturers and finally presenting a jacket in the right colour. The breathable and waterproof shell jacket has a removable zip-in insulated jacket with detachable sleeves, which can also be worn separately. This results in numerous possible combinations for all weather conditions and seasons.

The Hoffmann Group consultants also provided EKB with advice on the choice of tops and trousers: "We were advised to choose a T-shirt, a sweatshirt and a polo shirt, and to allow the drivers to choose a total of two tops. As for the trousers, we also made sure that there is a ladies' model. These choices are very much appreciated by our drivers," says Schulz. The equipment was completed by a cap, a belt and shoes of different brands. Of course, the cap and tops were also branded with the EKB company logo. The Hoffmann Group offers different methods for such textile customisation. Customers can choose between direct embroidery, embroidered badges, transfer printing and laser engraving. EKB opted for transfer printing throughout, as this process is suitable for all items of clothing - even for the rain jacket, for which an embroidery process is out of the question.

Fitting on site

Because wearing comfort is an important factor with an average wearing time of around 12 hours a day, the Hoffmann Group proposed to give the 275 drivers the opportunity to try on clothing in various sizes before ordering. "The chosen garments were presented and tested at the two drivers' meetings in January and February, which was very well received by the staff," the Managing Director continued. "Afterwards we were given the complete equipment in two different sizes for six weeks to try on. I would definitely recommend a comprehensive wear test, and next time we would make even more intensive use of this opportunity as we have an international workforce and the sizes vary internationally".

Support for new employees guaranteed

By February, the data of the 275 employees had already been recorded and the main order could be placed. "We are very satisfied with the consultation and the order processing, and the products featured in the catalogue were also delivered quickly because the Hoffmann Group always has these items in stock. The jacket, on the other hand, had to be ordered for us directly from the manufacturer and repeat orders in some sizes were not immediately available because we had decided on a very attractive and in-demand model. The jacket is absolutely fantastic, offers great comfort and matches our equipment perfectly", Holger Schulz sums up.

All 275 drivers are now equipped with the new work clothes. "Most of them are thrilled that they are now provided with the work clothes and they no longer have to worry in the morning about finding a suitable combination of clothes. But, of course, there are also some who would still like to come to work in their personal favourite hoody," says Schulz. To ensure a uniform appearance and the necessary safety, EKB has therefore issued a corresponding work instruction from 2020. In addition, an employee has been appointed to take care of size selection and ordering and to provide intensive advice to colleagues to ensure that everything fits right away.

"We chose the Hoffmann Group because the concept convinced us, we are convinced of the quality of the products and we always had the feeling that we were being professionally advised and we weren’t being talked into something we didn’t want. And our decision proved to be a good one," concludes Managing Director Schulz.

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