What Shipping Companies Can Learn From German Manufacturing

Sennheiser: A great example of a Mittelstand focusing on doing one thing well.

In Germany, many of the large companies rely heavily on smaller specialist companies to provide equipment and services to key parts of the business.

These specialists suppliers are called the “Mittelstand” and are an engine room of about 3.6 million companies across Germany. They employ the majority of the country’s workforce, enjoying robust growth and loyal staff.

These Mittelstand companies operate on a few basic principles, including:

1) Choose a speciality and strive to become a world leader at it

Joachim Kreuzburg of Sartorius, a cell cultivation company, recently told the Harvard Business Review: “We’re not in the gold seeker business; we sell shovels to gold seekers.”

2) Retain a sense of ownership among employees

The Mittelstand has employee turnover of less than 3pc per year, and three-quarters of staff feel that their ideas are valued, according to recent book, The Seven Secrets of Germany.)

3) Develop workers’ skills to increase their value

The Mittelstand thrives on apprentices and the concept of bringing employees ‘through the ranks’ of the company.

4) Make sure that you have a clear, long-term goal

Focus on what you are good at, and focus on working with others who are good at what they do.

Most large German companies contract out their work to multiple Mittelstands, and the Mittelstands also work together creating a network of specialists, focusing on what they are good at, working to a common goal or excellence.


Kontainers as Mittelstand

In modern digital terms, SaaS companies are the new digital Mittelstand. They too follow the same basic set of principles at Mittelstands:

1) Choose a speciality and strive to become a world leader at it

Kontainers does one thing well, providing online Booking and Booking Management software for Carriers and Freight Forwarders. Our goal is not to become a freight forwarder but to be a company providing a world class software product to our Customers

2) Retain a sense of ownership among employees

Our customers demand a world class product and as we are SaaS company, unsatisfied customers can simply walk away. This really helps focus our minds on making sure that the we continue to develop our software and ensure that operationally we provide a service second to none. We partner with companies like Amazon, and leverage their expertise in secure, commercial cloud services.

3) Develop workers’ skills to increase their value

As a single-focus company, our staff have the focus and we the economies of scale to ensure that our people can work in the most efficient and productive ways possible. We can and do invest in developing our staff inside our specialist niche so Kontainers teams are the best at what we do.

Benefits of Cloud Services source https://aws.amazon.com/economics/

4) Make sure that you have a clear, long-term goal

We’ve come a long way in a relatively short time, but our journey is only starting. We have a long term vision tied into our objective to be the best FreightTech company in the world. We plan to provide a new genre of freight software to help existing industry players to adopt technology immediately in a cost effective manner, instantly improving their customer experience and saving money and time on both sides of the relationship.


Adopting ‘SaaS Mittelstands’, like Kontainers, will allow Forwarders and Carriers to focus on their core skills and outsource the technology layers required to compete in an increasingly digital market.

Trusted software providers are not to be seen as disruptions to everyday business, instead, should be seen as an investment that will allow all the moving parts of your business to be more productive and efficient with the minimal financial outlay and the least amount of risk.

All beginnings are hard, but SaaS makes the digital evolution for forwarders a bit easier!


Kontainers is a customisable, client-facing, execution platform for Freight Forwarders, deployed in an unbeatable timeframe, and with a proven track record of multiple on-time deliveries for 4 of the top20 Shipping Brands

Click here to schedule a call with a member of the Kontainers Team