WIND TURBINES, GENERATOR HOUSINGS, HEAVY EQUIPMENT OR COMPLETE PRODUCTION UNITS... DUTCH FIRM VAN DER VLIST TRANSPORT GROUP CAN DELIVER CARGO ALL OVER THE WORLD, REGARDLESS OF ITS SIZE OR WEIGHT. BUT THERE’S MUCH MORE TO THE FIRM THAN JUST HEAVY HAULAGE, AS ELLEN HAMELINK FINDS OUT.
Van der Vlist Transport Group’s bright orange trucks definitely stand out on the road. It’s best known for special transport but the firm does a lot more than just haulage, says Van der Vlist Logistics MD, Martin van Dam. “Our ‘wheels’ are the cornerstone of our business but haulage is only part of the job,” he confirms. “Nowdays, we handle a lot of other activities too – things we basically evolved into over the years.”
When it first started in 1930, Van der Vlist was a transport firm, plain and simple. The family-run business primarily focused on moving construction materials and equipment, helping to service the construction equipment boom during those years. Naturally, it needed lowloaders for these heavy loads. By the early 1970s, the company had started operating beyond its national borders and in the 1990s, it had widened its field of operation still further, transporting construction equipment produced in the Far East.
“These were standard machines but still needed quite a few modifications before they could be used by European clients,” says van Dam. “This was the first step in our transformation from transport firm to logistics service provider.
And now, our headquarters at Groot-Ammers and our facilities in Moerdijk and Zeebrugge (Belgium) are completely geared towards technical services. Another example of how the company expanded its services is its terminal at Moerdijk.
“Shell was one of the first companies to set up there. We handled logistics for Shell and stored every part of the future plant there,” says van Dam. “The entire port of Moerdijk still needed to be developed at the time: there was nothing there – just sand. We were given the opportunity to buy the land we had used for this project. We did, and that’s how we suddenly gained our own waterfront terminal. That’s when we first started offering stevedoring services. While we hadn’t planned this beforehand, it was a conscious move. When we see an opportunity, we take advantage of it.”