KLG Europe

KLG Europe 100 years

28 June 2018

VENLO - KLG Europe is 100 years old. A period in which untold things have changed within logistics. From horse and cart through the region, to freight transport to France and China, among others. And from just Grandpa Kuijken to a KLG family of a thousand employees. Owners Kees and Ad Kuijken look back on the history of this family business.

The world is now at KLG's feet. With many passionate employees committed to 100% customer satisfaction far beyond our national borders. Together with two other leading companies, the logistics service provider realized the joint venture New Silk Way Logistics, offering a complete logistics solution between Europe and China by rail.

Eight branches in Romania opened for Balkan operations. And perhaps they became best known for their finely-meshed distribution network in Western and Eastern Europe.

But the company wasn't always global. "My grandfather started in 1918. He transported agricultural products by horse and cart in Bergeijk. He also supplied the State Mines with wood from the pine forests. That was obviously done very locally," says Kees Kuijken, CEO of KLG Europe.

"Yet KLG, which was called Kuijken Transport at the time, was already quite innovative. For example, my grandfather drove one of the first cars in the region as early as 1923. This allowed him to handle more business and serve a larger area. From then on, he transported the milk of the company now called Friesland Campina, which is still a KLG customer. With the infrastructure of those days, trips to Veghel and Den Bosch were already quite an undertaking. Logistics did not yet exist, paved roads were also barely there. As an entrepreneur, my grandfather simply brought things from A to B for people and companies that did not have the means to do so themselves."

War Time
On the eve of World War II, Kuijken Transport's "fleet" already included two cars. The Dutch army changed this in 1939. Anyone with a truck was ordered to turn it in for war purposes. "My grandfather was allowed to keep one car, but in 1940 the Germans still demanded it. Fortunately, it did not mean the end of his business, because milk still had to be delivered. During Reconstruction, there was a huge demand for transportation services. And the company grew. That was also a personal achievement. We regularly had clients visiting us for dinner."

Advancing through Europe
From grandfather Kuijken, the company passed to his three sons under the names C. Kuijken, Jan Kuijken and Piet Kuijken. "Each went his own way and my father focused on the international market. He specialized in transport to France, from1 pallet to a full load. From a small family business we went to a team of 25 people. My father really incorporated them into the family. Everyone was treated with respect and still is. After all, we need all the people to deliver to customers what they expect. Today, the family-like manners within KLG ensure that we have very low absenteeism and a low turnover of staff. We are really very proud of that!"

Crossing into China
Although clients no longer sit at the dinner table by now, a good conversation still opens new doors. When an existing customer in textiles asked Kees one fine afternoon if he didn't know a logistics partner in China, the director didn't think long. "I immediately asked why we couldn't do that. We had nothing in China at that time. No cars, branches or people. Nothing. Still, we decided to take a shot and signed up for his tender. They received 13 tenders and the principal honestly said he thought my chances were low. I thought: fine, my account, my risk. We were among the last two and the rest is history."

The strength of KLG
Still, brothers Kees and Ad Kuijken and all the employees are not sitting still. "They are the lynchpin of our company. No idea is too crazy and every suggestion is listened to. I think that's where KLG's strength lies: innovating and daring to seize opportunities whenever possible. I am proud of all the milestones we have set in the past 100 years, but even prouder of all the people who realize this with us. In the Netherlands and far beyond. In recent weeks we celebrated our 100th anniversary with big parties in the Netherlands, Romania and China. It was great!"

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