From Atlantic House, Peter Van der Veeken, Managing Director of CJ-ICM Logistics Antwerpen, has a panoramic view over the port. The building represents the towering ambitions of the South Korean group, active in 41 countries, with 13,600 employees.
CJ-ICM Logistics is a member of the CJ conglomerate, a spin-off from the Samsung Group. CJ is active in various industries including foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, catering and entertainment. In 2017, CJ acquired the Kuehne & Nagel division Ibrakom, and ICM (Ibrakom Caba Misnak) was formed. In May 2019 the group set up a subsidiary in Port of Antwerp.
"Antwerp is a very important transit port for us," says Van der Veeken. "A lot of South Korean cargoes come here, such as steel. Taking Antwerp as a basis we aim to further develop the business and build up a clientele in the Benelux and France."
The focus is mainly on storage and distribution. "At the moment we are renting warehouses, but eventually we want to acquire or build our own. From here we can if necessary dismantle the equipment as it is unloaded and further transport it to the final destination," he explains.
The biggest market for CJ-ICM Logistics is the oil and gas industry in Central Asia and the Middle East. "We have 1.2 million square metres of storage space in the port of Umm Qasr in Iraq. We handle all the breakbulk cargo there. We also collaborate closely with CJ-ICM Dubai. Recently we coordinated the transport of an oxidiser from the United Arab Emirates in Jebel Ali via Umm Qasr to West Qurna in Iraq. "
The group is also seeking opportunities in Africa. "The energy and water sectors are developing fast," says Van der Veeken. "For the Romuva Ing project in the North of Mozambique we carry all the material needed for construction of the Ing site in the port of Palma, both for the onshore and for the offshore installations."
For these activities the group can call upon its own transport and lifting engineers, and also has its own equipment. "We have all the tools we need for this. CJ-ICM has 4 million dollars worth of assets such as SPMTs (self-propelled modular transporters), low-loaders, trailers, cranes and even ships," says Van der Veeken. "Our shipping company CJ Korea Express with its flat deck ships can carry special loads such as modules for manufacturing plants or refineries. Module transport is expanding, but there aren't many competitors that can do what we can. We have a whole lot to offer our customers, and sometimes we do the craziest things."
"My big thing is doing the impossible," he continues. "In Turkey we transported an entire village with SPMTs, to save it from being drowned when a dam was going to be built. We successfully moved all the houses, together with the mosque, a few kilometres farther up."
CJ-ICM Logistics offers one-stop logistics and goes to extremes for its customers. "If there are no suitable roads for transporting heavy loads, then we simply build new ones. In Africa, for example, we bypass old or broken bridges by using pontoons, or we build landing jetties."
For a new project in the Antwerp chemical cluster CJ-ICM Logistics Antwerp was asked to accommodate 1,000 employees for a period of 14 months. "My first thought was: how many hotels do I need for that?" says Van der Veeken with a laugh. "It should be possible to find a couple of empty hotels, but picking up the employees and taking them to the site would be no easy task, certainly not with the traffic congestion around Antwerp. So I thought: why not charter a passenger ship? That would be ideal. It has everything you need: a kitchen, laundry and even a swimming pool."
That operation turned out to be a triumph. "I asked the Port Authority for a berth, but they wouldn't give us one. The only option was the Scheldt quays, but for that I needed permission from the Antwerp Harbourmaster. So I went straight to the port alderman, Annick De Ridder. She got back to me the same day, saying that this was a textbook example. A working party is now being set up to find a project of this magnitude. "
Van der Veeken is very keen on customer service, not only talking the talk but also walking the walk. "In 2013 I stayed for a week in Basra for a rail project. I was picked up in an armoured car and escorted by agents with Kalashnikovs. For each visit the street was cleared for me. After 24 hours I sent the security detail away. I thought: better to go unnoticed in a small, ordinary car, otherwise I have a target on my back. I didn't tell my wife about that," he laughs. "As far as she was concerned I was on a business trip in Kuwait."
"The security situation is still difficult in Iraq, but when you're starting up a project you have to be physically there," he explains. "Before the Covid-19 epidemic came along I was on the plane every week to visit customers."
The impact of the corona crisis is still limited for the moment. "The logistics sector has slowed down a little, but it never comes to a standstill. We have a whole lot of projects going on normally," says Van der Veeken. "There will always be a future for breakbulk. Our main advantage is waterway transport. Europe will always play an important role, Although Asia shouldn't be underestimated.
These are the other articles in the dossier ‘Breakbulk’:
Breakbulk revival in Antwerp: preface to all the stories
Catrien Scheers: “Covid-19 will never undermine my faith in breakbulk”
Zimmer Staal operating at full capacity at terminal operator Euroports
Rollit Cargo anticipates growth in wind turbine market
Victrol carries bridges, machines and parts for offshore wind farms
Corona crisis confirms need for digital breakbulk platform
Biggest lifting job in Port of Antwerp in many years by Mammoet
Muriel Marquet (HSL): “Breakbulk is our core business”
Rail&Sea: "Big increase in combined breakbulk and container"
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions invests in resources for breakbulk
Oldest port company Stukwerkers sees the sector changing rapidly
Van der Vlist Belgium expands its European hub at Zeebrugge
Jacques Vandermeiren: “Antwerp and breakbulk, a hole-in-one”