Managers under the spotlight - Christoph Waelchli, Bertschi AG

Can you tell us about your career journey?

I started my logistics career at Bertschi 40 years ago at the age of 24. At that time the company had around 100 employees and each new employee first had to drive trucks for a longer period. Our current CEO, COO, both European BU leaders and many project managers also drove trucks at the beginning. That's what the founder and owner Hans Bertschi wanted so that every future management member could get to know the basis and details of our business.

I later moved to the planning department, first replacing all departments and a few years later becoming head of intermodal transport.

In 2007, I was put in charge of the then largest subsidiary, Bertschi Italia, with locations in Busto, Verona, Rome and Bari. In 2009 I returned to the Dürrenäsch location and became operational manager of liquids BU. Since 2022, I am responsible for the subsidiaries in Europe and implement the GMB strategy together with the subsidiary managers. I have been a member of the management team since 2000.

I speak German, English, French and Italian fluently. 


What are the current trends and challenges in your industry?

Chemical production in Germany, for example, is falling by 15% this year. Energy prices in Europe are still 3.5x higher than in the US or Asia. The production of chemical products is enormously energy driven. Global chemical companies are therefore producing more in Asia or the US and are currently shutting down plants in Europe. this has a significant impact on our volumes.

On the other hand, Germany in particular still has major rail infrastructure problems. These are currently causing delays and are leading sometimes to train cancellations. Often, we have to go fully by road due to scheduling reasons.

In view of the EETS (European Emissions Trade System) starting in 2026, it is imperative that the problems in intermodal transport are resolved by then. Intermodal transport is the only solution to achieving climate goals. (Green Deal, EU should be climate neutral by 2050)


The logistics industry is undergoing significant transformations, including digitalization and automation. How is Bertschi adapting to these changes, and what benefits do these innovations bring to your European/ Romania operations?

Bertschi is now a fully digitalized company. In order to be successful in the transformation phase from analogue to digitalization, the base, the drivers, first had to be convinced of how important digitalization will be for the future. So we started in 2015, two years before the first steps, with information on the occasion of our annual driver training courses. In 2017 we introduced the truck tracer app for drivers. The driver thus became a data collector and transmitter of timely data. Today, on the one hand, our employees can access all data in real time from any location, even from home, and our customers can also track their shipments directly in a timely manner and they will also be informed about any delays and the new expected arrival date.

the second point concerns to sustainability. Sustainability is part of Bertschi's corporate strategy. It is based on four pillars: environment, ethics, labor and human rights and sustainable purchasing. We were awarded the gold medal by the largest rating agency for sustainable processes, Ecovadis, a month ago, making us one of the 5% most sustainable companies in Europe


How many employees does your company have in Romania, and what are your recruitment plans (if you can disclose this information)?

We currently have 66 employees in Romania. We operate a shared service center in Timisoara and, on the one hand, manage the accounting for our Romanian but also for other Bertschi subsidiaries in Europe, and on the other hand, these employees support the headquarters in order entry and billing of additional costs. We have hired 30 drivers to handle local traffic from our locations in Curtici and Ploiesti and will hire more as volumes increase. In international transport, around 80 Romanian drivers with German employment contracts are working in Western Europe.


Looking ahead, what are the strategic goals and vision for Bertschi's Romanian operations in the next five to ten years?

First, we want to fight to ensure that our Ploiesti location remains connected to the international rail network despite the current falling volumes. For this we need additional volume on the rail. We are connected to the whole of Europe via Vienna and, together with our customers, we make a major contribution to sustainability while using the intermodal network for the long haul.

We also have plans to expand the storage areas, building a workshop and tank cleaning. Land reserve is available, as soon as the volumes pick up more strongly, we will be ready. We believe in the growth of the Romanian economy and we highly appreciate the open and friendly mentality of the people.