A look at the port of Emden, where the Volkswagen Group's cars are shipped out

24.10.2017
A look at the port of Emden, where the Volkswagen Group's cars are shipped out

The port of Emden is the heart of the Volkswagen Group’s logistics. Running the operations are two sea dogs: Torben Stadtaus and Dieter Stomberg. “This is our dream job. Because the sea is right here in front of us every day.”

“I have to smile every time I take the lane heading toward the port.” Torben Stadtaus works in Emden. He and his colleague Dieter Stomberg live for and love their job. Both are captains, although they no longer spend their time at sea. They have settled down and cast their anchors at Volkswagen Group Logistics. Today their ‘passengers’ are the containers arriving from all corners of the world: their job is to supervise operations at the German port of Emden, near the border with the Netherlands, from where the Volkswagen Group’s vehicles are shipped off around the globe.

A look at the port of Emden, where the Volkswagen Group's cars are shipped out

The port of Emden

Quality in the Spotlight

In addition to overseeing ports and ships, Stadtaus and Stomberg establish quality standards as well. This in an integral part of all contracts with service providers. “There we precisely describe how the vehicles should be handled, stowed and what materials should be used to fasten them,” explains Stadtaus. It is an extremely delicate job, but one he does not find taxing: “I have sat here at the port with a view over the dike for 15 years,” says Stomberg, adding that he “cannot imagine working at a more beautiful place.” With regard to his duties, he notes that they have changed radically over time: both have, indeed, sailed many waters, and still today could set out to sea. Once a captain, always a captain.

The new life of the two captains

Thanks to years of experience on the high seas and in command of cargo ships, they have perfect knowledge of every single loading and unloading procedure; however, unlike a few years ago, today’s captains require skills in other fields, for example digital areas.

“I grew up on ships. From the moment I was born, I traveled around like a circus child,” recalls Stomberg. His parents owned a shipping company in Emden. Then he began his career, where he first worked at Hapag-Lloyd following his career as a seaman, then going on to work as stevedoring inspector for the Emden transportation company, before switching to Volkswagen. Stadtaus too, born in the northern German state of Schleswig Holstein, became very close to the sea from an early age: “The sea always fascinated me. That’s why I went straight to the navy.” Afterwards, his work as stevedore in Hamburg allowed him to drive cars onto ships. He has been working for Volkswagen for nearly seven years. “Back then, they were looking for a risk professional, graduate engineer, navigator or average commissioner in Braunschweig. Then I thought – ‘hey, you fit the description for all those positions’.” But after five years away from the sea, he began to feel nostalgic. And so, in January 2017, the Stomberg-Stadtaus team was born.

A look at the port of Emden, where the Volkswagen Group's cars are shipped out

On the left Dieter Stomberg, on the right Torben Stadtaus

The perfect team for the port of Emden

Stomberg and Stadtaus have led completely different lives and they perfectly complement one another as a team. Each co-ordinates his own sector, and they understand each other implicitly. Rationally speaking, sea transport is a job just like any other. “You have to make sure that things are operating,” Stomberg dryly comments. The only “problem” is that the desire to raise the anchor has still remained with both of them. Ever since Stomberg professionally settled down he owns a boat “so that I can head off to an island whenever I want.” Stadtaus points out that there is little left of the romanticism associated with seafaring. However: “When the sun rises and the moon is still visible and you are entirely surrounded by the ocean – holding a cup of coffee while everyone else is still asleep – you see colors reflected on the ocean that you weren’t even aware existed.” That is really great. “But that only lasts for 15 minutes – before the charterer comes around, followed by e-mails and then the shipping company...” But that quarter of an hour, with your cup of coffee in hand and the sea breeze in your face, it’s worth all the effort for that.

SourceVolkswagen AG