Mainfreight firmly anchors itself in Flanders with new cross-docking center

Safeguarding business for the next 100 years with each investment: that’s the philosophy that drives New Zealand logistics services firm Mainfreight. Needless to say, the company’s brand-new cross-docking center in Zwijnaarde (Flanders) – operational since June 2018 – has a prosperous future to look forward to. The new site can kick-start its promising journey with a nomination for Flanders Investment & Trade’s 2019 Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy.

The 10,000 m² logistics hub is Mainfreight’s third investment in Flanders in two years following sites in Genk and Evergem, and will mainly serve as an international groupage and national distribution center. Incoming goods will be unloaded and reloaded directly onto outbound trucks. With this new, state-of-the-art facility, Mainfreight will create about 100 extra jobs in Ghent, one of Flanders’ main cities.

Kindred spirits

As a New Zealand company in Flanders, Mainfreight is a long way from home – or, so it seems. “We started our activities in the region in 2011 with the acquisition of the Wim Bosman Group,” Ben Fitts, CEO of Mainfreight Europe, remembers. “Very early on, we noticed more similarities than differences between our ways of working: both New Zealand and Flanders share a hard-working, entrepreneurial and autonomous mentality.”

“Both in New Zealand and Flanders, encouraging and empowering our teams to make decisions helps make our business move faster.” – Ben Fitts, CEO of Mainfreight Europe.

Three projects, two years, one goal

With the construction of a new cross-docking center in Zwijnaarde, Mainfreight is fostering even closer ties with Flanders. “It’s our third large investment in the region in two years, representing a total amount of EUR 21 million,” Ben continues. “All our investments are part of Mainfreight’s long-term strategy. We aim to be close to our customers and provide efficient supply chain solutions. So, an excellent connection between international ports, road infrastructure, our warehouses and the distribution network is essential.”

“That’s why Zwijnaarde provided the ideal location for our new logistics hub,” he adds. “It’s close to the port of Ghent, the E40 highway – which crosses Europe – and our Evergem office and warehouses. We also felt this proximity was important because it means our trucks travel shorter distances, which helps us lower our environmental impact. Add to that the talent pool of Ghent University sitting right on our doorstep, and it’s clear we’re talking about a winning combination.”

“We’re working hard on expanding and intensifying our network in Flanders and across Europe to deliver a higher quality of service, be closer to our customers and reduce our mileage in the face of climate change.” – Ben Fitts CEO of Mainfreight Europe.

Up to the Mainfreight standard

When designing the new cross-docking center, Mainfreight not only kept its customers in mind, but also its employees. Ben: “We wanted to make sure the new building conveyed the Mainfreight mentality. That’s why the design includes large viewing windows that connect the dock area and the offices, lots of natural light and a bright canteen where everyone can enjoy a meal and talk to each other, like you would around the family dinner table. The building had to be both eye-catching and an inspirational place to work. We’re proud to see that goal has been accomplished.”

A strong contender

The successful investment in Zwijnaarde earned Mainfreight a nomination for FIT’s 2019 Foreign Investment of the Year Trophy. It’s something Ben is very pleased about: “Receiving acknowledgement of our efforts in Flanders in the form of this nomination is a great motivator for us to keep going. Why our company should win? Because Mainfreight never takes the easy way out. We care about maximizing the benefits for our customers and minimizing our environmental impact, and we walk the talk.”