Managers under the spotlight - Alain Hadorn, Bertschi AG

Can you tell us about your career journey?

My career began at Universität St.Gallen, where I pursued both my B.A. and M.A. in Law and Economics. After completing my studies, I took the Swiss Bar Exam in Canton Aargau and worked briefly as an Associate at Lenz & Staehelin. Drawn by a long-standing passion for logistics, I decided to transition into the logistics industry in 2014. Starting as an Intermodal Transport Planner, I then became a Project Manager for Quotations in BU Liquids, dedicating almost four years to this role. By 2018, I was entrusted with the responsibility of Deputy Managing Director for BU Liquids, leading the chemicals logistics unit for the European business sector. Moreover, in addition to my role as Deputy Managing Director, I took on the responsibility of our subsidiary in Turkey in 2020. Furthermore, in a brief yet impactful period in 2023, I also managed our subsidiary in Köln.


Could you provide an overview of Bertschi's Business Unit Liquids and your role as Deputy Director within this division?

Bertschi's Business Unit Liquids plays a key role in the company, handling the transport of liquid chemicals throughout Europe. With a team of roughly 1,700 people, we are dedicated to ensuring the safe and efficient movement of these materials, always aiming to satisfy our customers. Our main management operations are based in Dürrenäsch, Switzerland. From here, we coordinate the movement of containers, manage our intermodal transport network, and maintain close contact with our other European offices. These subsidiaries are crucial for the final steps of delivery and oversee tasks of our cleaning, storage, and repair facilities.

In my position as Deputy Director within the Liquids Division, I juggle various responsibilities that span from the general to the specific. Primarily, I ensure together with the MD, we adhere to all necessary standards and regulations, maintaining the integrity of our operations. This includes overseeing our division's strategy, ensuring the efficient implementation of objectives and adherence to our designated budget.

Safety, sustainability, health, and efficient processes are our top priorities. I ensure our operations not only meet but surpass regulatory standards. Beyond that, I actively lead and motivate our team, spearheading recruitment, and performance evaluations. I optimize transport logistics, focusing on profitability and efficient resource use. Engaging directly with customers, I prioritize their satisfaction and manage our pricing policies, while also leading integration projects and consultations. I also oversee our supply chain, leading purchase negotiations for quality assurance.


Bertschi is known for its specialization in handling chemical and hazardous materials. Can you share insights into the specific challenges and safety measures associated with transporting liquid

Transporting liquid chemicals, particularly hazardous ones, comes with its own set of challenges. These materials demand precision and care, as even small errors can lead to serious environmental, health, and safety concerns. Moreover, we must be mindful of potential chemical reactions due to temperature fluctuations, possible spills, and the processes of our ADR storage facilities.

For Bertschi, safety and quality are top priorities. Our SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment, and Quality) team is always working on refining our guidelines and making sure they meet both international standards and our own experiences. Our dedication is reflected in our drive to maintain certifications such as ISO 9001, 14001, 22000, 45001, and SQAS. To us, these are not just labels, they show our commitment to doing things the right way.

Being proactive is key. We review our operations monthly and do root-cause analysis of any slight deviations in our operations, from which we create process descriptions to avoid issues in the future.

Our "Stop at Risk" campaign is central to our safety mindset. It started as an idea and grew into a core value. It is simple: if something seems risky, we stop and rethink. It has become our guiding principle.

Finally, the best plans need the right people to carry them out. That is why we invest time and resources in training our drivers. We make sure they have the tools and knowledge they need.

In short, while moving liquid chemicals has its challenges, we meet them head-on with a mix of careful planning, continuous learning, and a team that takes safety to heart


Digitalization and automation are reshaping logistics. How is Bertschi incorporating technology and data-driven solutions to enhance the efficiency and transparency of its liquid logistics operations?

Digitalization and automation are changing how logistics work, and at Bertschi, we are actively using these tools to improve our services, particularly in liquid logistics.

Our strategy for digitalization focuses on both internal and external projects. Accordingly, we have constructed a digitalization team. Their main tasks include:

  • Looking at how we work and finding areas where digital tools can help.
  • Developing new digital projects and seeing them through.
  • Working with other departments to make sure our digital tools meet their needs.
  • Testing these tools to make sure they work well.
  • Helping other employees get comfortable with new digital processes.
  • Regularly checking on our digital projects to see where we can do better.

Notable projects include our Truck Tracer App (TTA) and the newly launched automated estimated time of arrival (ETA) messages. The TTA is a specialized mobile application designed for our drivers and subcontractors to digitally manage road transport orders. While an order is in progress, drivers input their status and timestamps. This information can then be monitored by both our dispatchers and customers. The app enhances visibility, especially during the first and last mile, by providing status updates, ETA predictions, transport documentation (enabling quicker communication with the organization), proof of delivery, and near miss reporting. For a holistic view, we have integrated the TTA with our Customer Portal, where all transport-related data is consolidated and visualized. This integration fosters real-time transparency in the supply chain and facilitates an efficient exchange of information between partners. To further augment this, we have introduced automated ETA messages for our customers via the portal.

Moreover, internally we leverage our ability to digitally track and gain insights into our truck fleet. The granular data we have collected on truck performance offers insights into various aspects, for instance actionable insights on fuel consumption per truck and not just a general average. Such insights have enables us to perform strategic improvements.  This not only strengthens our operational efficiency but also reduces our environmental footprint, which is a priority for our business.

We are relentlessly pursuing further digitalization across departments. This will enable us to continue extracting actionable insights, refining our operations, and ensuring satisfaction for our customers.


How is the company addressing sustainability challenges in the logistics and chemical industries, and what role does Europe play in these efforts?

Bertschi’s sustainability strategy is built on four main pillars covering Business Ethics, Environment, Labour and Human Rights, as well as Sustainable Procurement.

As the nature of the logistics industry demands, we place great value on our ecological footprint. This is where our pioneering approach to intermodal logistics becomes crucial. By prioritizing the European rail network for transport, we drastically minimize truck usage and, by extension, fuel consumption. To give you a scale of our impact, Bertschi annually saves over 300,000 tons of CO2, compared to sole reliance on road transport. This monumental saving is akin to a car journeying 1.5 billion kilometers or circumnavigating the globe 37,000 times.

Tying back to the question on digitalization, we firmly believe that the key to sustainable operations lies in data. By harnessing insights from our digital initiatives, we have been able to identify areas of improvement, particularly in resource efficiency.

Furthermore, our SHEQ team plays a pivotal role in ensuring that we adhere to the highest standards of safety and environmental practices. We are delighted to share that EcoVadis has recognized our commitment by awarding us a gold medal. As part of our commitment to emphasize the significance of sustainability in Bertschi's daily operations, we underwent the EcoVadis Sustainability Assessment. This comprehensive evaluation investigates the company's environmental, labour and human rights, sustainable procurement, and ethical practices through an extensive questionnaire. The outstanding score we achieved positions us within the top 5% of all companies assessed by EcoVadis.

Additionally, our SHEQ team leads the initiative for Operation Clean Sweep. This program and its manual provide guidelines to minimize the accidental loss of pellets, flakes, and powder from processing facilities into the environment. Notably, in 2016, we became the first Logistics Service Provider in Europe to sign the OCS pledge, demonstrating our unwavering commitment. Following this pledge, we implemented robust technical measures to reinforce our commitment. These include a dedicated OCS audit, the assignment of local OCS ambassadors at every subsidiary, and refined work instructions. Technological advancements, such as the deployment of specialized loading rings to reduce spillages, along with the addition of sleeves, pellet separators in cooling systems, and retention nets, highlight our intensified focus on environmental protection.

In the context of our operations within Europe, we collaborate with European-centric organizations like the Responsible Care Initiative, ECTA (European Chemical Transport Association), and Cefic (European Chemical Industry Council). This engagement lays focus on our development in environmental and social aspects of our industry. ECTA, being a significant European body, monitors our progress yearly to ensure we are advancing in the right direction.

Beyond our commitments, Bertschi’s approach to sustainability is significantly shaped by Europe’s legislative landscape. The European Union, with its regulatory frameworks, sets high standards in the realm of environmental topics concerning the logistics and chemical industries. Navigating this regulatory terrain means that in our compliance we are also implementing regulations of the constantly evolving European Green Deal and its associated targets, which have significant implications for our operations. While the Deal's goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 is commendable, it mandates companies like ours to continuously innovate and invest in sustainable practices.