North Rhine-Westphalia has a gross domestic product of 705 billion euros, which means it has the strongest economy of all the states in the Federal Republic of Germany. In an international ranking of economic performance, it lies ahead of Switzerland, Sweden, Poland and Belgium.
In my home region of South-Westphalia alone there are 166 world market leaders. No other region in Germany can boast such a high density of hidden champions in the export sector. Most of them belong to the mechanical engineering, metalworking and plastics industries or are suppliers to the automotive industry. The region where the three states of NRW, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate converge is also an economically strong and highly interesting area.
The short distances to Bremen and Bremerhaven naturally also play a key role in terms of logistics, because this high-powered economy is also dependent on excellent infrastructure conditions.
WHAT IMAGE DO THE PORTS OF BREMEN HAVE IN YOUR REGION? WHAT OPPORTUNITIES DO YOU SEE FOR THE FUTURE?
Unfortunately, the ports of Bremen are not sufficiently well known here in NRW. People from Bremen do not like to boast, that’s not part of their nature. But that is one of the things I like about them. Their extreme capacity for innovation and their strong focus on sustainability make them the most productive ports in Europe.
I know from experience that the excellent service providers at the ports of Bremen save their customers a great deal of money, time, transports and work and that some projects are only feasible at all thanks to innovative and unusual shipping routes.
In view of all this, I believe the ports of Bremen can look forward to a really excellent and thoroughly positive future.
The logistics business is constantly changing, and consequently so are its requirements. I practically grew up in the transport and logistics business because of our family firm, where I later became Managing Partner, working as consultant or interim manager in diverse sectors such as the wind energy industry. Voluntary work in professional associations and chambers was something I always took for granted.
As a result of all these connections, I want to use every opportunity to underline the efficiency and innovative strength of the port management and the companies at the ports and their capacity for implementing even extraordinary solutions quickly. But of course I also keep my eyes and ears open so that I can identify, record and pass on information about major changes, problems and demands in the region that I represent.
HOW WOULD YOU GENERALLY DESCRIBE THE REMIT OF YOUR CURRENT POSITION? WHY AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PORTS OF BREMEN?
I have been a freelance management consultant, WEIDT CONSULT, since 2002. The ports of Bremen have always been an important region for me, whether on a professional or private level. That is why I was always surprised that the ports of Bremen do not showcase their services more often and more clearly, despite their excellent capabilities. People from Bremen simply don’t like to brag, that is something I have meanwhile realised. Although that makes them very likable, it is not always the best way to get ahead.
The initial impetus that made me decide to become a representative was a presentation given by a major European port at our local chamber of commerce. As I had never seen anyone representing the ports of Bremen at such an event for years, or rather for decades, I inquired in Bremen about a suitable contact. They put me in touch with Michael Skiba, who was head of marketing at bremenports at the time, and he proved to be exactly the right person. We got on well from our very first meeting, especially as bremenports was planning to expand its representative offices at the time. And that is how I quickly found a new and fascinating remit.
In the meantime, this is a project that has grown close to my heart. As representative, I look after the regions of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. My main tasks are giving presentations, networking with the responsible persons at the different companies and institutions and with politicians. Time and again, I discover that there is so much to say about the ports of Bremen and this always leads to an interesting exchange of information for both sides. I am always particularly pleased at the surprised and positive reactions to the opportunities and the capabilities of the fourth-largest port in Europe. It is exactly at moments like these that I realise that the work I have been doing in my position as Representative West since 2019 is important and good.
WHAT DOES YOUR REGION STAND FOR AND HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IT? WHAT ARE THE KEY INDUSTRIAL AND LOGISTICS SECTORS IN YOUR REGION? AND WHAT INDIVIDUAL REGIONAL CHARACTERISTICS HAVE TO BE OBSERVED?
In my home region of NRW there are a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises and traditional firms with a high export share. This is one of the strongest economic regions in Germany. Automotive, the electrical industry, metalworking and mechanical engineering are the major sectors. But the region also has really good logistics benefits to offer. It is centrally located and has good traffic connections to the main corridors. 70% of the Siegen-Wittgenstein district is made up of forest, the highest figure in Germany. And because I live in the area where the three German states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate converge, I am of course familiar with the potential of our interesting neighbouring areas. One of the regional characteristics worth mentioning is undoubtedly the outstanding supplier and customer loyalty. That can be a huge advantage, but occasionally also a disadvantage when trying to canvass new customers.
WHAT CONNECTIONS DOES YOUR REGION HAVE WITH THE PORTS OF BREMEN AND WHAT PERSONAL LINKS DO YOU HAVE WITH THE PORTS IN BREMEN AND BREMERHAVEN?
Highly industrialised regions with a strong export focus are always dependent on efficiently functioning universal ports, which means that I have repeatedly had to do with Bremen in the course of my life, whether privately or professionally. As a child, I read the word Bremen at least once a day in our company’s job scheduling plans. Even when we were on holiday, my father invariably turned off the motorway when we reached Bremen for a quick visit to a business partner. Later, I actually did much the same. That was one of our main routes.
As Managing Director of Logistik GmbH, a global wind turbine manufacturer, the efficiency of the ports of Bremen convinced me to choose Bremen as the main port of departure for our ships, most of which were operated as a full charter. One of the principal reasons for that decision was that Bremen was home to excellent companies and partners who could use their expertise and experience to resolve many problems for us. They were helpful, friendly, offered individual solutions promptly and with great commitment. In the international project sector in particular it is essential to have a smoothly operating port with good business enterprises. This relationship actually almost broke down once owing to the exceptionally difficult situation between 2010 and 2012 involving heavy lifts at the ports. But we were not willing to simply give up this good business relationship with the ports of Bremen. Thanks to the GST forum, which I helped to found in 2012 and whose members include leading representatives of Bremen’s Senate, police, administrative authorities as well as fellow entrepreneurs, we succeeded in optimising heavy goods transport at the ports of Bremen and remedying the impossible situation very efficiently and sustainably. It is the enormous commitment and the very pleasant atmosphere between everyone involved and the joint determination to improve the situation as soon as possible that still fascinates me today. That is why I meanwhile regard the GST Forum, which still exists and still functions today, as a role model for the dialogue with public authorities.
Hartwig Weidt grew up in a well-established freight forwarding and logistics company so it was only logical that he began his career with a course of studies in business management.
For 18 years, he was Managing Partner of the two family firms WEIDT SPEDITION GMBH and WEIDT-ISL GMBH, with a total workforce of approx. 50. He was also a founding partner of one of the first general cargo networks in Germany (CTL). In 2002, Hartwig Weidt became proprietor of WEIDT CONSULT, where he works as freelance management consultant, focusing on logistics, business management, succession planning and interim management. In the follow-up to a consulting contract, he also served for 5 years as Managing Director of Logistik GmbH, a German wind turbine manufacturer that also provides site logistics for an international clientele.
Hartwig Weidt volunteers on various committees of regional and national freight forwarding and logistics associations, the chamber of commerce and social security institutions. For many years he was Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the road transport association SVG Westfalen Lippe and a member of the collective bargaining committee. He has also served as commercial judge at Siegen Regional Court since 1997.
Hartwig Weidt was born in Siegen in 1958, still lives in that region and has one son. In his spare time, he is a passionate musician whose instruments include the drums. He is interested in IT and also rides a motorbike.