Geodis Wilson is emerging as a major player on the global automotive logistics stage. Part of the Geodis Group, 100% owned by the French railways, SNCF, the company is expanding rapidly on every continent for automotive, from expansion of its airfreight facility in Atlanta to being a full 3PL to Renault in Morocco. We caught up with Peter Baumann, global director for automotive, at the Transport Logistics fair in Munich this spring.

Simon Duval Smith: You have taken a great deal of responsibility in the North African venture in Morocco with Renault; taking on hiring personnel and negotiating with the local government. Is this the way forward for Geodis Wilson–working as a full service provider for everything up to the factory gate?

Peter Baumann: Yes, we are always looking towards fulfilling the requirements of the complete supply chain. This way we think we can become a strong and dependable global player for our customers, be they OEMs or tier suppliers.

SDS: In Morocco, will you be offering more services than in your other contracts, such as PDI and damage repair?

PB: We are looking into expanding our services everywhere. Sometimes the OEMs do not wish to let some critical operations–such as PDI– out of their control. Logistics providers are always trying to get deeper into the OEMs’ processes; some carmakers are open to these moves, others are more conservative and usually quote quality maintenance reasons. Wherever we can we would push for this type of activity; we might take some OEM personnel into our unit to do this work, and thus ‘buy-in’ their quality expertise.

SDS: You have a new venture in Atlanta in the US, is this part of a strategy to work more in the ‘new Detroit’ of the southern states of the US?

PB: Geodis is today, and I will speak very openly here, not where we want to be in the US. The country is definitely where we want to make more investments. We need to look further than organic growth in the region. From an automotive perspective, it is an area where we need to expand. Critical for me is also US–Mexico traffic, where we already have some work in place; we are doing milk runs for certain suppliers in Mexico.

SDS: Is there revenue to be gained from the established LSPs in North America?

PB: It is tough in the US, especially with the OEMs, as we are not that well known as service providers; I would see our opportunities much more with the tier suppliers, with whom we already have relationships in other regions with many suppliers.

SDS: How much of the group’s activities in the US and South America are likely to be automotive in the future?

PB: Difficult question…In Mexico our strongest vertical is automotive at about 60%. In Brazil we are in a very early stage, with some solutions established for inbound and with the organisation in the process of focusing more on vertical solutions. We will grow to more than our very approximately 5–10% currently.

SDS: Across the board globally would 30% of total business be a good position for the automotive vertical to be in?

PB: It would be a vision to be at this figure. In some countries we are at this level and certainly in some ‘automotive’ countries like India, China and Mexico I see the best opportunities for automotive to be a strong vertical in our business.

SDS: What are the most exciting developments in global logistics for you?

PB: From what I have seen so far here at Transport Logistics, technology and IT are the most impressive areas; innovations in these areas are really important for Geodis Wilson. We brand ourselves as innovative trendsetters. Geodis is investing a great deal in IT globally. We have established a supply chain management tool for some of our tier supplier customers. Local suppliers can use this as part of their package of goods from us. It is not exactly free; where we might help a customer connect eight plants, we have to work the cost into the deal of course, but it is very favourable for the customer. This works with the internet and Windows platforms and is compatible with all systems in use.