01 May 2020 08:40
On the road in Bremerhaven with Chris Schügner and his Actros 1843 – with its special colour
Chris Schügner and his Actros attract attention wherever they go: the tractor unit and container semitrailer are painted a luminous pink.
"Really I wanted to study logistics," Chris Schügner tells us. "I found production processes and the distribution of goods really interesting." Driving trucks after finishing his (high school qualification) was only supposed to be a stepping stone. With a lot of enthusiasm for the job, Chris successfully completed his training as a professional truck driver at Glomb, a haulage company. "I was able to shorten the training to two and a half years and I quickly realised that I really enjoy doing the job." When Glomb offered him a position working permanently for them, he didn't need to think about it for long. "Driving is my thing!"
Even five years later the 26-year old still doesn't regret his decision – on the contrary: "I drive where others spend their holidays", he says happily. And adds: "I'm shown a lot of respect." After all the man from Bremerhaven drives everything – not only what his former school friends need.
Bremerhaven – a hub.
A lot of the things that are just routine for Chris are fairly impressive for visitors: not only are there a grand total of 14 berths for large container ships at Germany's second largest sea port, at almost five kilometres in length, it's tidal quay is one of the longest in the world. Even at a distance the huge gantry cranes show where the Weser river is. A total of 5.5 million TEU were moved here last year. Around 51 per cent of the boxes were transported inland by truck.
Chris's first job of the day is to pick up an empty container from loading area 4. Once he has arrived, Chris indicates the number of his parking space which is then passed on electronically to the driver of the van carrier. It is the van carrier's job to move the containers within the terminal grounds. In no time at all, the container is in position. Just check the locking system and off we go.
Smart colour choice.
Back at the haulage company, Chris gets the documentation for his next job. Even strangers would never miss the building close to the terminal: the pink flags are just too conspicuous.
This colour is easy to spot everywhere: all 60 of the company's trucks as well as the 120 container semitrailers and five low loaders are painted in a bright shade of pink. In the 1980s the port was not guarded – and the colour was a superb protection against theft. Ten years later pink is also the company colour of which all employees have long since become proud.
The trucks also attract attention on the road. "Whenever I deliver to a company for the first time, 90 per cent of the time I am always asked about the colour", Chris says. "Children laugh and point at the truck when they see me." And in Wörth the Mercedes-Benz staff know very well that the colourful trucks are destined for Bremerhaven.
A real fan of the star.
Long-distance haulage takes Chris and his Actros right across Germany and into the neighbouring countries. He particularly enjoys the empty country roads and the tours to Sweden and Austria. "The further the better", is his opinion.
He also feels that the fact that his Actros is equipped with "just about everything that you can order at Mercedes-Benz", is another bonus for his job. He proudly demonstrates his Sideguard Assist which issues a visual and acoustic warning when something moves in the truck's blind spot.
As he drives alone in the truck, he has spruced up the cab: white edged ostrich leather on the table and floor as well as a light strip which he fitted himself sporting small lamps the colour of which he can control electronically – of course pink is one of the colours. He is particularly pleased to be driving a truck with a star professionally. "My private car can only be a Mercedes too", he stresses. "I once test drove a V8 and fell in love with it immediately." He also has an old 124 (assembled in 1989) at home; "My fair-weather car", he grins.
The only fly in the ointment in the truck: for insurance reasons, his girlfriend Jessi can't accompany him. But she does travel with him; in the digital photo frame on a tablet and on a name plate on the console. And she will continue to do so: "My girlfriend and I are looking for a house at the moment," he tells us.
Photos: Christian Schmid
Video: Erik Rossel/PRH