December 15th, 2011
01:19 PM GMT
Copenhagen (CNN) – Jens Bjorn Andersen, boss of Danish transport giant DSV, has a message for Europe’s politicians: Deal with Europe’s crisis like he has streamlined his business. Stop over-spending, trim the headcount and get a grip on costs.
Those struggling to rein in the eurozone’s ongoing debt problems might want to listen. DSV is one of those companies that you probably haven’t heard of but, once you do, you’ll see their logo everywhere.
After interviewing Andersen at DSV’s Copenhagen headquarters, we spent eight hours on the road. To pass the time, we played a game spotting DSV transporters. They have around 17,000 trucks on the road every day, and we spied at least one a minute.
DSV helps companies get their goods from A to B, by air, by sea and on the roads: from office furniture to fruit cordial. They go from Copenhagen to almost anywhere around the globe. They employ 21,000 people worldwide and pulled in €5.7 billion in annual revenue in 2010.
Andersen is a DSV careerist, after starting as a graduate trainee. He says the company’s success can in part be attributed to its ability to pick up market share, but says: “We actually had to pinch ourselves in the arm a bit, as we were a bit surprised.”
The transport sector can serve as an indicator to wider market trends. Lorries on the move means products are being made, bought and sold. And DSV is thriving after it took dramatic action in response to a hit during the 2008/2009 downturn. They made 5,000 people redundant and fine-tuned what they offer customers.
“Europe is under pressure, there is no doubt about that,” Andersen says. “Consumers are very cautious. We have seen that in Denmark now, where consumer spending is the lowest it has been for five years. And of course if consumers do not spend, do not buy flat screen TVs for Christmas, then there will be less for transportation companies like DSV to transport.”
While customers are ordering less and running down their inventories - particularly in Europe - DSV is firming up its presence in markets like Asia and Latin America.
Andersen says he is now focused far beyond Europe’s borders - at least until Europe emerges from its crisis. And while he gives some credit to politicians attempting to push through change, he does not expect a quick fix.
“The politicians have taken the first steps, but it is going to be a very, very long road,” he says. “I actually do say ‘let guys like us who run these large corporations in Europe, let us enter some of the government offices and tell them how to do that.’”
Andersen argues politicians should think more like entrepreneurs. He suggests they could work with a flatter, less bureaucratic management structure – a Scandinavian-style - for example.
That way, Andersen says, politicians could drive through change much more quickly, without having to wade through European Union red tape.
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