20/11 - Opportunity Spotting & Tour : awards & special recognition


More than 100 opportunity spotters proposed more than 160 ideas, All opportunity spotters will receive a signed copy of the book “100 Y Ahlers” in English. It includes a section and some pictures on the Opportunity Spotting and Tour. Between the 165 opportunities spotted, 10 have been pre-selected in May and traveled around the world.

- Ahlers on site (Ridge Liang, Shanghai)
- Sales by reference (Nataliya Drozda, Riga)
- Satisfaction survey (Cherry Huang, Ningbo)
- Forwarding of dangerous goods (Vu Duc Hoa, Ho Chi Minh City)
- Go Green (Ray Tsang, Hong Kong)
- Ahlers song (Martine De Beukelaer, Antwerp)
- Branch Integration (Ranjit Ramakrishnan, Dubai)
- Mutual education/tea parties (Lindsay Li, Shanghai)
- Promotion in the educational world (Olga Nekrasova, St. Petersburg)
- Customers’ Day (Hilde Van Loon, Antwerp)

The choice for the best opportunity was discussed during opportunity meetings in each country and had to be made based on 3 criteria:
- Does it improve the business ?
- Can it be implemented worldwide ?
- Is it good for our customers ?

The jury decided to retain the top three opportunities of the Opportunity Meetings held during the Opportunity Tour.The Best Opportunity Spotted Award is attributed to Cherry Huang from Ahlers Ningbo. She receives a travel budget to make a trip to Europe. The winning opportunity “Satisfaction Survey” proposes to ask customers for feedback after having finalized a project or a job as a standard practice. This proposal will be included in the business plan for 2010 for all offices worldwide. The get a travel to Europe as prize. The ideas put up by the runners-up ‘Ahlers on site’ and ‘Go Green’ will be put on the agenda for a decision by divisional management with regard to inclusion in the business plans. The runner-up as well as the other opportunities that made it to the public voting, win an I-Pod Touch.

Six of the final ten opportunities have been submitted for voting of the staff worldwide via Ahlers Today. The winner of the Public Prize Opportunity Spotting is Nataliya Drozda from Ahlers Riga. She proposes a “Sales by Reference” approach meaning that we should develop our sales by asking our customers whether we can use their testimonial and to whom of his contacts he would recommend Ahlers. We recommend to include this approach in the sales and marketing plans worldwide.

The Jury awarded following awards regarding the Opportunity Tour

- Best reporter: Roy Haryanto (Ahlers Surabaya) who will get the Travel suitcase
- Best picture: Aliya Baissalbekova (Ahlers Almaty) who gets a pair of binoculars

Since a lot of energy and enthusiasm was put in the opportunity tour by staff and offices worldwide, the jury decided to attribute special recognition awards for following achievements :

- Best hospitality: India & Vietnam, for the extensive and well planned programmes for the travellers
- Most opportunities spotted: Ahlers Belgium (total number) and Ahlers Georgia (most by number of staff members)
- Most original motivation letter: Nila Anindi (Ahlers Yogyakarta) with 100 reasons in her letter
- Most unexpected learning experience: Lizy De Beuckelaer (Ahlers Belgium)
- Best party: Singapore (with partners on the beach)
- Best fireworks: Ukraine (during the 100 Y celebration in Kiev and near Kharkiv)
- Best show : Russia (inauguration Gamma warehouse)

The certificates for these recognition awards, signed by the jury will be forwarded to the winners in the weeks to come.

This Opportunity Tour was a great success, thanks to all people involved. We will continue to be ‘creators of opportunity’ in the year to come, the first of a new century for Ahlers.

Congratulations to all winners !

29/6 - Opportunity tour - a relay race for 10 Ahlers employees


Ahlers organizes an “opportunity tour” to celebrate 100 years of Ahlers.  It is a sort of relay race where 10 employees (non-frequent travelers and no members of management) get the chance to discover one of Ahlers’ worldwide offices. Travelers learn more about local business and culture and carry a suitcase full of opportunities (ideas how to improve the business) to discuss with the colleagues abroad.

Lizy De Beuckelaer, 56 years and working as account manager for Ahlers Forwarding, was the first traveler to head off from Antwerp to St. Petersburg. She met colleagues on the chemical tanker m/s Donizetti (maritime staff provided by Ahlers Maritime) and enjoyed inaugurating the 3rd Russian warehouse of Ahlers Logistics . Here is what she said about her experience:

“When I arrived in Russia, I received a big welcome. But in fact you never know what will happen next. It’s only at the end, when the words “when will we see you again’ are pronounced, that I really realized how great this experience was. Those words are for me words of mutual appreciation: “We are one team”. 

18/5 - Also in China Ahlers celebrated the Ahlers centennial as well as 15 years' presence in China.

A fabulous buffet party was held in Shanghai on May 18, 2009 (a lucky date in China) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Ahlers and the 15th birthday of Ahlers China. The event took place in the beautiful garden of the Belgian Consulate General in Shanghai with a fantastic weather.

To kick off the party, Mr Marc Pecsteen, Consul General of Belgium in Shanghai, welcomed everybody to his “home”. Christian Leysen, Executive Chairman of Ahlers, briefed the audience on the history of Ahlers and Ahlers China. Baron Delwaide, Honorable Chairman of the Port of Antwerp, mentioned the long term sister city and sister port relationship between Antwerp and Shanghai and the well reputed APEC training program for about 2,500 port operators, especially container terminal managers, in China during the last two decades. Mr Bao Qifan, Vice President of Shanghai International Port (Group) expressed his sincerest thanks towards the great support of the Port of Antwerp to the Port of Shanghai during its inauguration of the containerization in China in early 1980’s, which is now the 2nd largest world container port with 28 million TEU in 2008. Mr Bao also wished a greater success of Ahlers in China in the future.

The celebration was harmoniously accompanied by a live Philippine band, the Belgian singer Astrid Cuylits who happens to be one of our clients (Dragon Sourcing) and a flutist Leo Dai, son of Dai Lipeng. On top of that, we also served our guests with Belgian beers (Duvel and Vedett), Belgian chocolate (Daskalides) and French wines (FTI), all being our customers in China.

It was a wonderful and unforgettable evening! Nobody was patient to wait for another 15 years to celebrate it again, let alone another 100 years.

15/5 - Ahlers celebrated the global centennial and 5 years of Indian subsidiary in Mumbai

Another very festive evening with speeches from Christian Leysen (Executive Chairman), Luc Maton (General Manager Agencies and International Forwarding) and Shibu John (Managing Director Ahlers India).

The evening saw Mr Leysen, Mr Maton and Mr John, along with the invitees gathered, raise a toast to the milestones crossed by Ahlers globally and in India. Mr Leysen reiterated the company’s stress on reinvention, finding long-term solutions together with customers and its confidence in the potential of India.

The highlight of the evening was a thrilling presentation of different global dance forms by a local group followed by a gala cocktail and dinner for all invitees. The event was hosted by the famous VJ Ms. Mareesha of Star network fame.

A wide cross-section of the trade participated in the celebrations, including representatives from major shipping lines. Ahlers India officials were also present, including its Mumbai team, led by Mr Vishwanathan K, Regional Manager, Western Region, Indian Management team members and all corporate and branch heads from all operating locations.


4/5 - Ahlers celebrated its 100th anniversary in Antwerp

On 1 May 1909, Ahlers started as a shipping company in Antwerp for the German shipping line Hansa.

On 4 May 2009, Ahlers welcomed customers, partners, friends and staff in the renovated Ahlers House to celebrate the past 100 years.  It was a very nice and pleasant evening with some 600 guests among whom many well known people in the Belgian business and political world as well as partners and customers from abroad.

Speeches were held by Christian Leysen, Executive Chairman Ahlers and Marc Van Peel, Alderman of the Port of Antwerp. Karel De Gucht, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs held a video-speech, being in Australia at the moment. Two great-granddaughters of the 2 founders of the company, Nathalie Leysen and Francisca Ahlers were interviewed as well as André Leysen and his wife Anne Ahlers, daughter of founder Herwig Ahlers. The presentation of the evening was in the capable hands of Belgian TV-presenter Fransesca Vanthielen.

An exhibition held on the 10th floor of the Ahlers House in Antwerp, which runs from May till November 2009, provides a visual overview of the most important facts of 100 years Ahlers.

To commemorate the company's 100 years in business, Christian Leysen has published the book: “100 jaar Ahlers in Antwerpen. Een familiebedrijf in een wereldhaven.” [100 Years of Ahlers in Antwerp. A Family Business in a World Port.] An English version will be available later on this year. 

28/1 - Centenary book launch and photo exhibition

100 years of Ahlers! 100 years of creating business opportunities for customers around the world!

On 1 May 1909, a shipping agency was created in Antwerp to service the German shipping line Hansa, challenging the hegemony of the English commercial fleet in the trade to India.

In May 2009, Ahlers is an international logistic and maritime service provider active in 16 countries.

In celebration of our 100th birthday in May 2009, we will present a centenary book authored by historian Olivier Boehme and Christian Leysen.

Christian Leysen: “Those pages will make it very clear that Ahlers has changed and evolved, but at heart has always remained the same type of organisation. That’s an interesting paradox: change made possible through continuity. And, of course, the book will picture Ahlers against the background of social, political and economic evolutions since 1909. It’s a history book, but not just about our history.”

The book launch will also feature a photo exhibition on the Ahlers history, which will take place in the restyled and renovated Ahlers House in the port of Antwerp, Belgium.

28/1 - 100 Years Of Continuity And Change: Renewed Ahlers Branding

Another Ahlers century beckons. Our commitment and entrepreneurial spirit remain unchanged, but we did renew our corporate and activity branding.

Christian Leysen: “100 years sounds like a long time, but time is not the most important factor here. Through all the changes, nothing has changed fundamentally about this company. At the heart of every Ahlers team, back in 1909 and today in 2009, is an entrepreneurial spirit, a can-do attitude that customers around the world have always insisted on. New offices, new countries, new activities, but always the same company at heart.”

Ahlers: creators of opportunity

“In our new visual identity and especially our new corporate tagline, we leave no doubt as to our mission and our added value. “Creators of opportunity” captures that entrepreneurial spirit perfectly. At the same time, it states our promise to the customer: we will spot and create business opportunities with you, wherever and however. We have always been “creators of opportunity”, but now it shows in our company branding as well.”

“Especially in the economic tough times the world is entering, it is crucial that the width and depth of our know-how is absolutely clear to the marketplace. Our service offering needs to be more transparent and accessible than ever.”

“To support this, we have rebranded our service offering into 4 connected but distinct areas of expertise to the market: Ahlers Maritime, Ahlers Agencies, Ahlers Forwarding and Ahlers Logistics. Each activity has its focus, and each focus is expressed with a different tagline.”

We invite you to explore this renewed website to experience our new visual identity. Let us know what you think!


We will keep you updated on our centenary celebrations on this page. Check back regularly!

On 20th November we announced the winners
of the Opportunity Spotting contest.
Have a look at the video.

Video 20 November

On 4 May Ahlers celebrated its centennial
in Antwerp, please have a look at the

Video 4 May 

Listen to Karel De Gucht, Belgian Minister of Foreign
as he spoke on 4 May 2009

Karel De Gucht

Have you already read the Ahlers Times?
Download a pdf-version here:
in English, or in Dutch



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