HISTORY – more than 50 years of trans-o-flex

The origin that led to the founding of trans-o-flex can be traced back to the pharmaceutical wholesale trade. Peter Winkler from Cologne and the then dispatch manager of the Madaus company, Adolf Neuhaus, developed an initial concept for direct delivery to pharmacies. Madaus, a manufacturer of natural medicines, was looking for a fast and reliable solution for the distribution of its products.
After a successful test phase, Madaus decided to expand this concept nationwide, with other shipping companies from Hamburg, Hanover, Weinheim and Munich also setting up regional delivery services for Madaus. The partners agreed to establish a joint venture under an umbrella brand. This was how, on 30 October 1971 “trans-o-flex” (based in Weinheim) came into being. The group of five regional delivery services became the first nationwide “express delivery service” in Germany.

trans-o-flex was chosen as the name for the company – and this name said it all. The aim was to develop a highly flexible carrier (=trans-o-flex) that can deliver medicines in particular quickly, safely and reliably to doctors, hospitals or pharmacies throughout Germany. From the word go, the special flexibility was geared to the specific requirements of the core industries of pharmaceuticals and healthcare, but also cosmetics, electronics and other high-value and sensitive products.

To meet these requirements, it was not a standard parcel service that was developed, but an international network in which goods could be transported both in parcels and on pallets. trans-o-flex is also set up to safely transport special consignments such as hazardous goods. All these special features mean that consignors from the core industries can have all their consignments delivered by trans-o-flex.

Over the years, trans-o-flex has continually worked on its focus on core industries and the development of customer-specific solutions. Decisive steps in further development were taken when trans-o-flex became the first logistics service provider in Germany to set up a nationwide network for actively temperature-controlled shipments. Today, trans-o-flex can actively transport pharmaceuticals throughout Germany at temperatures of 2 to 8 and 15 to 25 degrees Celsius.

Basically, it can be said that trans-o-flex has always worked hard to expand the services it offers for its core industries, whilst always keeping the needs of its customers in mind. This has remained true to this day and also includes the topics that, in addition to quality, are on everyone’s lips today: digitalisation and sustainability.

We look to the future with confidence and look forward to many more years!


External witnesses

Prof. Dr. Holger J. Schmidt, Professor for Marketing, Koblenz University of Applied Sciences

My father, who founded trans-o-flex in 1971, was a true entrepreneur who loved his customers. The will to continuously improve is also in the company’s DNA. He would have been very pleased with the development of trans-o-flex in the recent past.

We have been working with trans-o-flex for almost 30 years. The length of this collaboration alone speaks for itself. Over the years, my employees and I have found time and again that trans-o-flex can come up with solutions even in tricky situations.  We have knowledgeable contact persons who work in a customer-oriented, reliable and quality-conscious manner.

Things have also happened in the company’s history that we didn’t like, such as the founding of the distribution companies. This resulted in considerable impairments in the quality of the service. Some changes of ownership have not always been beneficial for trans-o-flex either. Fortunately, the last change of ownership led to a positive turnaround. trans-o-flex has returned to its core business, the pharmaceutical industry. Since then, trans-o-flex has been providing services in the way we as clients expect. There has also been a great deal of investment in the area of IT, which has led to a tremendous increase in quality. The processes have become and are becoming more and more transparent. We view the development as very positive.

I hope that trans-o-flex will remain consistent on the path it has chosen. The requests and requirements of our customers will increase in the future. Legislators will also further tighten regulations in the pharmaceutical sector. For this, we need a partner who supports us in fulfilling the requests of our customers and the requirements of the legislator.

Around 50 is the age when some people, but also companies, start to get comfortable. At trans-o-flex, however, I have noticed a steady and positive change in the last three or four years. The profile of this professional shipping services provider in B2B has been sharpened with perseverance and consistency. Today, trans-o-flex enjoys a good presence on the market and on the road. During on-site visits, for example to the branch in Bruchsal or at the customer conference, I was able to personally experience how the company believes in focusing instead of diversifying. The consistently implemented motto of doing selected things very well instead of everything mediocre impressed me. This is how the company went from being a somewhat “dusty” follower to a self-assured professional totally geared to market needs and whose sales force looks after us in a committed and competent manner.

Photo: Michael Gueth

For us, trans-o-flex is a long-term partner who fits in well with our concept of ‘ordered today – delivered tomorrow’. Especially as a consignor with larger products, we appreciate the fact that trans-o-flex also delivers bulky goods quickly. The focus on quality also paid off during the coronavirus crisis, in which the services were largely stable and thus significantly better than in the competitive environment. Some of our long-standing account managers have made a career in the company – we are also pleased about that. We have little contact with the people who are also our face to the customer at the end of the supply chain. Our special thanks go to them, especially when they still give our customers a smile despite their hard work. Congratulations on your anniversary!

If I were to describe trans-o-flex very briefly, the following keywords would spontaneously come to mind: pharmaceuticals, orange, the Mercedes of parcel services, and reliable. After decades of working together, I can say that trans-o-flex stands out from other service providers with the outstanding value of always meeting the difficult criteria of delivery in the pharmaceutical sector. Furthermore, trans-o-flex has never lost sight of customer satisfaction, and the value of personal contact with the customer has never been neglected and replaced by anonymous call centres.

trans-o-flex has also tried out steps into the entire parcel service market in the past. I think that was an understandable change, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out and from the point of view of a representative of the pharmaceutical industry, I am happy that trans-o-flex is now concentrating on its strengths and sticking to them. As a pharmaceutical company, we are therefore hoping for continued respectful, honest and far-reaching cooperation with marketable conditions.

The cooperation between Fresenius Kabi and trans-o-flex has been ongoing for several decades, and TOF is an important building block in the organisation of our distribution network. In particular, the ability to deliver consignments nationwide on a daily basis is a great advantage for our company and helps to ensure security of supply. The delivery of consignments, both in the B2B sector and in the area of patient deliveries, usually takes place ‘next day’, which means a high degree of reliability and planning security for everyone involved. Especially in the area of transporting medicines, TOF has aligned its organisation with GDP criteria and is a pioneer in the industry. This allows us to align the distribution processes very well with our company’s own specifications and regulations for the implementation of the GDP guideline. Especially for temperature-controlled shipments in the ambient range of 15 to 25 degrees as well as in the cool range of 2 to 8 degrees, we rely on the efficiency and expertise of TOF. I personally associate TOF with the keywords customer proximity, reliability, process safety and innovative spirit and look forward to developing current and future topics together with TOF. Congratulations on the company’s 50th anniversary, and here’s to our continued successful work together,

Steffen Redetzky
Senior Director
Supply Chain Execution Germany
Fresenius Kabi Logistik GmbH

For years, trans-o-flex has been our reliable partner for parcel shipping, both nationally and internationally. The values ‘punctuality’, ‘low damage rate’ and ‘friendliness during delivery’ are very important to us. At trans-o-flex, constant further development of the services offered is evident.

In my daily dealings with trans-o-flex, I would like to highlight two things. On the one hand, the very good cooperation with the customer service, and on the other hand, the topic of digital transformation. Examples are modern data interfaces, the improvements on myTof or the website. We are experiencing professional development at trans-o-flex, where increasing digitalisation is leading to the optimisation of processes and increased reliability.

Precise as a Swiss watch

For us, the main reasons for working with trans-o-flex are the combined parcel & pallet service and the reliable delivery quality within 24 hours. It runs as precisely as a Swiss watch. That is why we have never regretted switching from a number of different service providers to 100 per cent trans-o-flex in 2003. The company offers us a contemporary portfolio and now has a solid management team. We would choose trans-o-flex again today and would like to see the stable and cooperative partnership continue in the long term.


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My working relationship with trans-o-flex is almost as old as the company itself and came about through a friend. In June 1972, he called me in his capacity as an employee of the forwarding agent Josef Wank, one of the five trans-o-flex shareholders (Eichenau near Munich). He wanted to know if I had a truck with a 3.5 tonne payload that could make a triangular trip every day: from the Drugofa warehouse in Augsburg to the Wank warehouse in Munich, then to Nuremberg and back to Augsburg. Spontaneous as I am, I immediately said yes.

We drove the first tour for Josef Wank, for which a permit was still necessary at that time, on 1 September 1972. Since then, the partnership has grown steadily. By the end of 1976, 12 vehicles were already in operation for Wank in Bavaria. When the five shareholders sold their shares to the Haniel Group in 1984, around 20 vehicles were in operation for Wank.

Technical development has always been a high priority at trans-o-flex. New technology was also tested very often. This applied to vehicles as well as technical equipment. Since central tour planning has been based in Weinheim, we have jointly put a wide range of vehicle variants into operation. Examples include tandem trailers with 37 pallets, double-deck semi-trailers with 52 pallets loading capacity, tandem trailers with 38 pallets as through-loaders or even a Eurodis show truck (Scania Hauber).

One of the highlights of our working relationship was the time of German reunification in 1990 and 1991 with rapidly and suddenly increasing volumes. At that time, we sometimes ran 16 additional routes in one afternoon.

The scope of our collaboration changed from time to time. For example, on 1 January 2004, we also became the operator of six trans-o-flex sites in Bavaria. From 2012 onwards, the independent limited companies were transferred back to trans-o-flex and we then concentrated again on working together in line haul transport.

Today, thanks to the current ownership structure and continuity in the management, trans-o-flex is once again in calmer waters and, looking back on these 49 years of working together, I can say: I wouldn’t want to miss these exciting decades. If I got a call today like I did in 1972, I would act the same way as I did then and take the path with trans-o-flex again.

Internal witnesses

In 1991, I wanted a change, was looking for new challenges, and I found them at trans-o-flex thanks to the strong growth at the time. Today, I am proud to have been part of the changes and to have helped master the challenges we had to face at trans-o-flex. And now, after almost 30 years, I can say that I would choose the company again today. Because, not least, I have also found a new passion with my special field of work.

In 2000, together with some colleagues, I was asked to set up and take over real estate management, which had not previously been part of trans-o-flex. That was really exciting and still offers new challenges today! We started from scratch and then gradually went through a tremendous development, both as a department and personally. Our motto is: There’s no such word as can’t. We have set ourselves a bar. Indeed, it is our internal goal to be able to compete with real estate management companies on the public market and to work at least as efficiently as they do.

During my time at trans-o-flex, however, it was not only my personal field of work that changed a lot, but the entire company, especially in the area of IT. Today, IT is used at every workstation, we scan every package x number of times, have end-to-end consignment tracking that even includes the temperature of the consignments, there is always new and more efficient automatic sorter technology and finally, the introduction of the GDP standards is also based on our sophisticated IT. At the same time, environmental awareness has become much more prominent in recent years, there are more and more vehicles of the latest engine generation, alternative drives are being tested and we can calculate and offset the entire CO2 emissions of our logistics chain.

The introduction of IT has made many manual steps in day-to-day business faster, and built-in controls such as check digits mean that fewer errors occur. The technical equipment has made the work of the colleagues in the warehouses much easier and increased the throughput enormously. What I will not forget in this respect is the new building in Alzenau in 2007. During my first visit, I could not stop being amazed. The special architecture and the completely new technology at trans-o-flex at that time were simply fascinating for me.

Today, I see trans-o-flex as a specialist for individual solutions to logistical requirements that is committed to specific values: customer- and future-oriented, reliable, flexible, innovative. I hope that we will continue to pursue these values, that trans-o-flex will continue to develop with new solutions and that we will be able to hold our own in the logistics market in the future.

Saved a child – enjoyed the weekend

For me, one of the most interesting times at trans-o-flex were the years after the fall of the Wall. Building a new network and customers in the young states, that was really pioneering work. But even apart from that, the work was never boring and, among the many fond personal memories, I would like to highlight one. We received a call in Berlin on a Friday afternoon from a client with a focus on haemophilia, immunology and intensive care medicine asking if we could immediately transport a vital consignment for a child to the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf. We organised a special trip and guided the vehicle around all the Friday traffic jams. When the hospital confirmed the arrival of the consignment and later informed me that the child had been saved, I had a wonderful weekend.

My path to trans-o-flex was the traditional one via a job advertisement in the newspaper. I was looking for a job, got accepted and stayed because I just like it. I get on well with my colleagues in particular. At trans-o-flex, I have always been lucky to work with nice people.

One of my personal highlights was definitely the move from Daimlerstraße to Hertzstraße (Weinheim). Back then, those weren’t just new buildings. Completely new processes were also introduced, and that was really exciting. Another moment that will stay with me forever is a collection I was commissioned to do in Michelstadt in the Odenwald. It was the first time I drove a 7.5 tonne truck with a trailer. That was a totally sublime and great feeling.

At trans-o-flex, I learned that there is always a way. No matter what situation you are in. And at trans-o-flex it has never been boring over all the years. We have benefited enormously from new technology and now offer our customers many more options than in the past, and we do so more reliably and quickly.

The various changes in ownership and even more managerial changes have also caused worries and headaches for the staff. With the current owners and the managing directors, things are moving forward again. I wish trans-o-flex every success for the future.

I came to trans-o-flex in a roundabout way because after training in a foreign language I wanted to do some commercial training and so I started an apprenticeship as a forwarding agent at trans-o-flex in 1984. That fascinated me from the beginning and then stuck with me.

At that time, trans-o-flex consisted of five independent forwarding companies in Cologne, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich and Weinheim, which, on the initiative of Walter Schmidt, merged under the name trans-o-flex Schell-Lieferdienst. At that time, the offices and transshipment warehouse were still located in Daimlerstraße (Weinheim) and the company headquarters were also still at Walter Schmidt’s residence in Mörlenbach.

The first department I joined during training was called “Expedition”. In today’s terms, that would be the closest thing to customer service. Here, as in the whole company, there was a very friendly atmosphere and everyone knew each other. Due to my language skills, I ended up directly in the international business after my training – first in international accounting. trans-o-flex had already been a member of the international express service network “euro-express” since 1982 and the headquarters of the subsidiary “trans-o-flex international” was initially in Frankfurt-Niederrad. When the company moved into the new buildings at Hertzstraße 10 (administration) and 14 (branch office) in 1986, the headquarters of trans-o-flex international were also relocated to Weinheim. Therefore, during the transition period, I regularly went to Frankfurt with the head of accounting to do the so-called A-meta accounting with the partners. In those days, work was still done by hand and using a calculator! When trans-o-flex launched its own European distribution network EURODIS in 1993, I finally moved to the international operations department, where I am still working today.

I have now been with the company for 37 years and have experienced some of the ups and downs of trans-o-flex. One highlight I remember fondly was a big party in October 1990 in Mörlenbach with colleagues from all over Germany as well as the then subsidiaries in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria. An international football tournament was organised with teams from trans-o-flex and the foreign subsidiaries. Afterwards, the celebration was held in a large marquee with live music.

And this year, trans-o-flex is now celebrating its 50th birthday! I wish trans-o-flex continued success and that this great company will remain in the logistics world for many years to come.

We are trans-o-flex!

The company song by the tof.allstars

With the help of musical trans-o-flex employees, a company song was created in 2021 as part of our anniversary celebrations. Read more about the creation and watch the video. Klick on: the company song by the tof.allstars.

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