The thirst-quencher.
Transport Magazine

The thirst-quencher.

Liquid refreshment delivered reliably. Behn Getränke has perfected its offering over decades.

Anyone living in the north-east of Schleswig‑Holstein who wants to buy drinks will almost certainly come into contact with Behn. The wholesaler from Eckernförde is fully aware of the responsibility it has towards its customers and always delivers the goods on-time.

Anyone who enters the Behn Getränke GmbH premises in Eckernförde finds themself virtually in the office of the Managing Director Waldemar Behn, because his office is directly next to the main entrance and offers a perfect view of the yard. From here, the company sells around 320.000 hectolitres of various refreshments annually: mineral water, sodas, beer and wine – 3.500 references are in the company’s portfolio. What’s more, the group of companies also produces their own spirits, for example the brands “Kleiner Feigling”, “Küstennebel”, “Dooley’s” and “Friesengeist”.

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“We’ve got employees here whose grandparents used to work for us.”

Waldemar Behn, Managing Director of Behn Getränke GmbH

So why didn’t the boss opt for a more peaceful setting for his office, for example with a foyer? “Then I wouldn’t know about everything that’s going on,” says Behn, who is in the process of showing some old photos from the company’s past on his screen. The family-run company was established around 130 years ago. A photo from the 1950s shows the first Mercedes‑Benz truck which the firm from north-east Schleswig‑Holstein had in operation. Behn can immediately recall the name of the driver and his son, who was also on the photo. And today little has changed in terms of the company’s familial approach. “We’ve got employees here whose grandparents used to work for us,” says Waldemar Behn.

Outside on the yard, forklifts are zipping around the place. It’s 7 a.m. At the company premises on the outskirts of the Baltic resort, men in a green uniform are sorting out the tours for more than 20 trucks. The commissioned pallets are ready in the warehouse. Driver Andreas Freiholz, who is also greeted with a handshake from Mr Behn, has driven his Actros 2530 into place. Freiholz has been driving for the drinks wholesaler for more than 30 years.

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60

kilometre delivery radius, short lead times.

Tradition-rich company.

Back in 1892, the Behn family were already delivering beer – at the time to the canteens of the Kiel Canal construction sites. The family ran a brewery in Hamburg‑Altona. The goods first went by train to Gettorf in Schleswig‑Holstein where Waldemar Behn’s great grandfather lived. Then, horse-drawn carriages were used to supply the canteens along the Kiel Canal construction sites. A total of 9.000 workers were supplied with the beer from Waldemar Behn’s ancestors. For the past 60 years, Behn’s company has been using trucks from Mercedes‑Benz. Behn fondly recalls the first vehicles. For the reporters from “Transport” magazine, he even took the time to sit behind the computer and show the trucks which they had at the time. In 1990, the businessman bought a long-nosed truck from 1957. “Those were the trucks of my childhood,” Behn says, explaining his passion for the classic trucks. Up to 1988, the L 311 model was owned by the French army in Berlin. After two changes of ownership, the man from Eckernförde bought the vehicle. In the company’s own workshop, the 100‑hp truck was restored and converted to suit the needs of the drinks wholesaler. But it didn’t stop there as the truck was also painted in the brewery’s original colours. Just in time for the company’s 100th anniversary, Behn was able to bring the L 311 back into operation. And since then, it’s a real eye-catcher in the Behn fleet. Even though Waldemar Behn truly appreciates the modern trucks in the company’s fleet, when the Managing Director has to stand in for one of his drivers on Saturdays, he’s always thrilled to get behind the wheel of the L 311.

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The truck which Freiholz is driving is a special vehicle among Behn’s fleet. Numerous details, such as the decals on the sun visor and the registration plate allude to the 125-year anniversary which the company celebrated in 2017. “That’s our anniversary truck,” says Freiholz while climbing up into the cab. His tour can begin. Today he has to deliver to five restaurants and a supermarket, stock them up with drinks and take the empty bottles and crates back to the warehouse in Eckernförde. When loading up the trucks, the drivers make sure they work efficiently. The pallets for the first address go into the cargo area last. And there has to be enough space left for a pallet truck. “We use that to take the drinks into the store rooms. That’s part of the service,” says Freiholz.

In the logistics area next to the warehouse, Waldemar Behn points on the map to the company’s bases in Eckernförde and Flensburg. He knows the delivery areas of his fleet like the back of his hand. “Our delivery area is the east coast in northern Schleswig-Holstein, right up as far as the Danish border and westward to about 12 kilometres past the A7 motorway,” says Behn. “From the company’s headquarters, none of the delivery addresses are further than 60 kilometres away. We want to be in a position to deliver fast.”

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“Most of the time we have 20 to 25 vehicles on the road. And these need to be modern vehicles. Downtime has to be avoided at all costs. Reliability is one of our brand’s promises.”

Waldemar Behn
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Not only restaurants, cafés and hotels are supplied. Hospitals, care homes, canteens and supermarkets also buy their drinks from Behn. “Our market share here is high. For anyone looking to buy drinks in the region, we’re the ideal partner.” 1.000 addresses are delivered to, of which 800 are in the hospitality and catering sector. Particularly in the summer months when there are large numbers of tourists in the Baltic Sea holiday region, the holiday chalets and apartments, bars and restaurants and campsite kiosks all depend on the efficiency of the Behn truck fleet. “We’ve benefited from the fact that an increasing number of people are holidaying in their home country. Here on the Baltic coast, we’re seeing that quite clearly,” says Behn.

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1000

addresses are delivered to regularly.

For more than 60 years, the drivers at Behn have been driving trucks from Mercedes‑Benz. And the fleet is always in top shape. “Most of the time we have 20 to 25 vehicles on the road. And these need to be modern vehicles,” explains the Managing Director. “Downtime has to be avoided at all costs. Reliability is one of our pledges.”

A large product range, fairness and trust are the characteristics which Behn offers their customers. The company uses the trucks for as long as possible. Thanks to the manageable delivery area, they cover around 30,000 kilometres annually. “Selling the vehicles after two, three or four years isn’t worthwhile for us,” explains Waldemar Behn. Andreas Freiholz, who has been working for Behn since the 1980s, grins and adds: “I don’t want to give this truck back all too soon.”

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Photos: Sebastian Vollmert