The founder steps down and his sons take over. Johannes Riege has laid the future of his company in the hands of his sons Tobias, Christian and Benjamin. From now on, the brothers are responsible for running the business of the 1985 established company that since then has developed into a leading global provider of user-friendly software solutions for the cargo industry. And the expansion course of the family-owned firm continues unabated.
“I’ve done everything right in my life. Well, at least most of it,” states 67-year-old senior Johannes (“JR”) Riege, when summarizing his professional life. The studied mathematician started his
career as an IT specialist and computer programmer working as freelancer for a number of forwarding agents.
JR, who comes from a humble background, was an entrepreneur from his earliest childhood. “I could never imagine to work as an employee in a major enterprise,” he recalls.
Instead, 33 years ago he started his own business by incepting Riege Software International GmbH in Dusseldorf, North-Rhine Westphalia, to move it some years later to Meerbusch, a rather small city of 55,000 people in the vicinity of Dusseldorf.
“It's the customers – and the employees”
Sprouting from small beginnings, Riege Software has meanwhile grown to considerable size. In total, 90 staff are standing on the company’s current payroll, of whom 58 are based at the Meerbusch HQ. From there, Riege experts steer the global product development, render technical support for Riege clients, launch tailored marketing activities or fulfill different administrative tasks. The international staff supports the local customers in 6 branches and are responsible for sales activities in the U.S. market, as well as in Mexico, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
“My sons joined our company more than a decade ago, so they know the business from A to Z, understand each other well, and get along fine with our staff.”
Having said this JR adds something surprising: “It is said that the customer is the only important factor. That's only half the truth. It's the employees also. If they are discontent and do not identify with their task and company you will never be able to satisfy the customer to his entitled demand.”
Obviously, the company founder managed throughout the last few decades to motivate his personnel time and again seen by constantly rising revenues surpassing €10 million last year and extremely low rates of staff turnover.
Scope is Riege’s scoop
The company’s flagship product and the cash cow is Scope, a product offering the air cargo industry but also the ocean freight sector high functionality reaching from quotation to delivery, including integrated interfaces for fast data exchange with forwarders, ground handlers, customs brokers or airlines and shipping lines respectively.
In addition to these fields of application, Scope is also able to automatically create e-AWBs.
Part of the support package offered to users are training programs, enabling them to get well acquainted with the tool for everyday use. Customers are also provided a specific mentor in case technical assistance or sudden help is needed.
Scope, the Riege family members proudly say, has become a unique selling point, catapulting the software developer into the top global league of forwarding and messaging services in logistics, the latter perhaps even in first place. In well-informed circles experts already speak respectfully of a “hidden world champion” when asked about Riege’s role as enabler of smart and easy-to-use software applications in air and ocean freight as well as customs brokerage. “We integrated the U.S. customs in our system some years ago, starting with exports. Imports are to follow soon,” announces JR.
Expansion through the cloud
The growing number of users document the software developer’s steady ascent. Currently, 350 companies are Scope clients, of which 50 percent belong to the international freight forwarding sector, among them many of the big boys. Trading companies, ground handlers and some freight carriers round off the customer list. They all enjoy the advantages of one of the most outstanding logistics solutions from the cloud.
This is an ideal starting position for Riege to decide where to best expand the company’s market activities. “As a matter of fact, we intend to up our business particularly in the U.S., followed by China,” announces JR.
A job his successors Tobi, Christian and Benny have to accomplish in the near future.
Retired but not tired
And what about his personal future, after he handed over power to three of his five children? “Attending first league soccer games at my favorite club Borussia Dortmund, getting deeper into machine learning in close cooperation with an expert I know well, are activities I look forward to,” he says. “But above all I’ll be traveling with my wife Gabriele, whom I have been married to for 45 years, and who deserves that I spend more time with her than I was able to do in the past. She was responsible for our company’s finances and continues to do so in future.” And one can sense how it emotionally moves him when he states: “After all she supported me unconditionally during all these years, keeping me clear of everyday duties, and – most importantly, gave birth to our five children, caring about their education and teaching them how to behave to become decent members of society.”
We wish JR all the best for his new life as pensioner, plenty of time for cozy togetherness with his wife, and good luck for his future career as creator of artificial machine intelligence.