07/03/2018
By: Dorte Strøyberg

Not a typical management structure for the Materials Handling Industry

Women keeping a handle on the family material handling business

Keeping it in the family, Logitrans is on its 3rd generation of owners bringing quality equipment to all areas of material handling. Gitte Kirkegaard and Dorte Pedersen are no strangers to the material handling business. Not only do they own and operate Logitrans, they are sisters. Both women are engineers, Gitte, the CEO of Logitrans also has an MBA in management. Dorte holds the position of Production Director and General Manager of Logitrans in China.

The Materials Handling Industry reports that only 29% of leadership positions within the material handling industry are held by women; At the CEO level, only 5% of these offices are controlled by women.

Although the material handling industry today is still dominated by males, knowledge, hard work and the bonds established with customers are not specific to either gender. When you meet a purchaser’s expectations or go beyond their expectations, the sense of achievement and pride are not gender-linked. 

However, women bring new perspectives to a business. Research shows that women are more adaptable to new situations, have better judgements, make better leaders and make the most out of money. 

Logitrans has always had a strong female influence dating back to 1940, when the company was founded. Gitte and Dorte’s grandmother, Ingrid Pedersen, used her sewing machine to raise extra money so a welding machine could be bought for the company. The sewing machine is currently displayed in a museum in Denmark. Gitte and Dorte’s mother, Anne Kristine Pedersen, also worked for the company in the finance department.

The Logitrans women definitely have a handle on material handling! 

“Being a woman in the material handling industry is not a challenge as such. I believe that it is rather positive to be a little "outstanding". Of course growing up in a family business has for both of us been natural. It is the only thing we have known. From our childhood, it was not meant to be that we should take over the company. We are three daughters, all born in the 1970´s. At that time, being a female manager or engineer was not natural. Our parents always told us to choose an education and a job, which would make us happy. As the time passed by, both Dorte and I chose an engineering background. There has never been any kind of pressure from our parents to do so. Our younger sister chose to be a nurse. After finishing our educations, we both worked in other Danish companies for 4 years, before we came home to Logitrans. Working for someone other than our father has given us both experience and confidence. To manage jobs like ours, you need to feel happy about it and enjoy it. If you do not like your job or feel confident that you can do it, you will not succeed. At least that is my opinion. We both love our jobs, and we feel grateful every day. Our goal is to develop our family business to an even stronger and more known brand worldwide”, says Gitte Kirkegaard.

There are many advantages of a family run business. A family is a team in its own. When kids are raised in a family business, they get a front row seat in seeing the hard work and dedication that goes into a successful business and are likely to retain those skills. Just like within a family, within a company the overall stability is a result of the leadership. The stronger the leader, the more beneficial and positive are the results. There is such a dedication to the success of the family business because the family’s well-being is on the line.
To carry on in the family business is a choice. You are choosing to be a part of the business, because of your own drive and determination to succeed. A dynamic family business keeps an advantage when they hand it down to the next generation. New generations stay open to new technologies and realise that the business is always evolving. They bring in new perspectives and new solutions along with a more diverse working environment. In addition to their formal jobs within the company, most family members have to help when needed in several different areas of the business. Their expertise in all areas along with their confidence in skills ensures the success of the company. To earn the respect of other employees, family members have to put forth double the effort. In doing this, non-family member employees state that they do feel like a part of an extended family. 

It is important to the success of any good company to have engaged leaders to motivate the staff members, and good leaders should have a vision and be personally committed. A good leader knows a company and its employees, and if you can achieve that, the rest falls in place.