D&R: ‘Navigate offers insight into sustainable transport connections’

17 July 2020
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The Rotterdam-based freight forwarder Van Donge & de Roo (D&R) is investing heavily in a healthy and safe work environment for its staff, optimal service for its clients and smart communication technology. This also includes participating in the Port of Rotterdam Authority’s Navigate application. ‘This tool clearly highlights which sustainable and efficient transport connections run to, from and via the port of Rotterdam.’

Computer screen with the navigate app open

D&R is one of the largest freight forwarders in the Rotterdam region. Since the firm was first established in 1977, it has developed into a major player throughout almost the entire supply chain. The group comprises a variety of companies that focus on container transport, depot and terminal activities, IT development, intermodal transport and customs brokerage. With logistics activities, terminals and depots in Rotterdam and Antwerp, local offices in Duisburg, New York, Thailand and Italy, an extensive partner network and its own rail company (DistriRail), the group handles some 635,000 containers per year. As a true ‘one-stop shop’, D&R can take on any shipment – whatever the volume.

Insight in connections

‘An application like Navigate increases the market’s insight into sustainable and efficient transport connections between the port of Rotterdam and the European hinterland. This tool visualises all deep sea, short sea, rail and inland shipping routes to, from and via Rotterdam. In addition, Navigate shows users where they can drop off or pick up empty containers. For a lot of Chinese companies planning to transport containers to Germany, the first port that comes to mind is still Hamburg. While in many cases it would be smarter to handle this via Rotterdam. Getting your shipment out of Hamburg by truck is difficult, and there are only a limited number of rail connections with the Ruhr Area. What’s more, the customs process in Rotterdam takes up less time. We keep having to explain this to prospective clients during trade missions. Navigate can help us with this. After typing in ‘Rotterdam’, it immediately shows you which destinations you can transport your cargo to from Rotterdam and how. You get a clear picture within seconds! We see Navigate as a strong marketing tool to increase Rotterdam’s “findability” as a port.’ according to Dennis de Roo, Managing Director van D&R.


D&R took the Covid-19 lockdown as an opportunity to step up the renovation and modernisation of its office in Rhoon. ‘Working from home isn’t an option in our line of work. Which means we’re very happy we can gradually welcome back our 120-strong team to the Rhoon office. We’ve invested in a hospital-grade HVAC system that both removes particulates from the air and kills viruses and bacteria. In addition, we’ve laid sound-dampening flooring and installed modern desks, both regular and standing. As a traditional family business we try to take care of our staff. And this also means ensuring their workplace is clean, pleasant and safe.’


Over the past 15 years, the organisation has consistently realised its ambition of 10% growth per year. And the Covid pandemic notwithstanding, there is great confidence this year will be no different. ‘This could also take the shape of an acquisition, for example. When it comes to expanding our depot capacity, we’re mainly looking at Germany right now – and specifically Duisburg. We also plan to expand our reefer activities. As a family business, we strive to rely as little as possible on banks for financing. We can look back on a few good years, and this gives us enough headroom to invest in new plans. On top of this, we’ve constantly focused on spreading our activities. In Rotterdam, for example, we handle a lot of shipments to US destinations. But we also have an air freight unit at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, we’re active along the new Belt and Road rail connections running from China and handle cargo that never even enters a Northern European port. Spreading your services makes it easier to absorb setbacks.’