Gudrun Winner-Athens: Pioneer of intermodal transport
Gudrun Winner-Athens is regarded as a pioneer of combined road-rail transport in Germany and Europe. The logistics entrepreneur has made a significant contribution to the increase in importance and internationalisation of intermodal transport by rail and is a recognised authority on road-rail combination. With her induction into the Logistics Hall of Fame, the international jury honours her continuous commitment to more environmentally friendly freight transport.
|Field||Transport, Logistics, Combined Transport|
|Current position||Managing Partner of Winner Spedition GmbH & Co. KG|
|Induction into the Logistics Hall of Fame||2020|
1955 Born on June 12 in Iserlohn, married, one daughter
1974 High school graduation and study of economics at the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster. Graduation as Diplom-Kauffrau at the Georg-August-University of Göttingen
1981 Entry into the family business Winner Spedition GmbH & Co. KG, from 1984 Managing Partner
1990 Elected to the Administrative Board of Kombiverkehr, Deutsche Gesellschaft für kombinierter Güterverkehr mbH, Frankfurt a. M.
2000 Member of the Supervisory Board of the Association of German Motor Vehicle Forwarders, Bonn
2001 Chairwoman of the Transport Committee of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce in Berlin until 2009
2001 Deputy Chairman of the Administrative Board of Kombiverkehr
2002 to 2020 Chairwoman of the Administrative Board of Kombiverkehr
- Member of the Supervisory Board of the German Freight Forwarding and Logistics Association e.V., Bonn
- Member of the German Transport Committee
- Member of the General Assembly and Vice-President of the SIHK zu Hagen
- Chairwoman of the Economic Initiative Nordkreis e.V., (WIN e.V.) Iserlohn
- 2020 Inclusion into the Logistics Hall of Fame
- Gudrun Winner-Athens was born on 12 June 1955 in Iserlohn. She studied economics and on 2 January 1981, the granddaughter of the company founder Hugo Winner joined the family business after studying economics. Together with her cousin Willi Winner, she becomes managing partner of Winner Spedition GmbH & Co. KG in Iserlohn. Between 2002 and 2020, the Westphalian heads the Administrative Board at Kombiverkehr.
- Gudrun Winner-Athens is regarded in Germany and Europe as a pioneer of intermodal road-rail transport.The logistics entrepreneur has made a significant contribution to the increase in importance and internationalisation of combined rail transport and is a recognised expert in road-rail combination. With her induction into the Logistics Hall of Fame, the international jury honours her continuous commitment to more environmentally friendly freight transport.
- Winner-Athens comes into early contact with the combined transport sector. As early as the 1970s, her father started operating national combined transport networks, amongst others through the territory of the former GDR to Berlin. As managing partner, she initially focuses consistently on specialisation followed by internationalisation. Together with her cousin, she successfully restructures the family freight forwarding business into a specialist for long goods for semi-finished products that do not conform to the system. This creates a network of 18 branches in Germany and four subsidiaries in Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria with more than 500 employees.
- In addition to the already existing national CT, the company starts to offer international combined lines in the 90s. Consistently and with foresight, only multimodal investments are made in the vehicle fleet. In 2005 the medium-sized Westphalian company launches the first Company Train, loaded exclusively with Winner units.
- In order to promote the shift from road to rail, the entrepreneur has been involved on the political stage for harmonised railway markets in the EU since the 1990s. She has been fighting to improve the economic efficiency and attractiveness of the services offered in order to further expand national and international transport and to consolidate the status of intermodal transport in the long term.
- Between 2002 and 2020, she chairs the Supervisory Board of Kombiverkehr Deutsche Gesellschaft für kombinierten Güterverkehr mbH & Co. KG, which under her leadership will develop into Europe's market leader in combined road-rail transport.
- The intermodal operator was founded in 1969 by 56 road hauliers and road haulage companies as an operator for combined road-rail transport. The Supervisory Board consists of elected limited partners and, since 1996, two representatives of Deutsche Bahn. In 1999 DB Cargo left the limited partnership and resigned from the Board of Directors. Three years later, in 2002, it was thanks to Winner-Athens that DB Cargo became a shareholder again. She has just been elected Chairwoman of the Administrative Board of Kombiverkehr and is leading the cooperation talks. She has achieved a remarkable success, which would probably not be possible today. She wrestles a 50:50 stake from the railway on an equal footing and has maintained this partnership until today.
- This close cooperation has enabled it to achieve an optimum intermeshing of production know-how on the one hand and market and product know-how on the other. The cooperation agreement with DB Cargo becomes a milestone for combined transport and provides the decisive growth impulse for the shift to rail.
- Despite the economic and climate advantages, combined road-rail transport in Germany has remained the stepchild of transport policy and for many reasons is not necessarily a flawless success story. Ideologies, structures and perhaps also the good work of the road transport lobby have not made it easy for the best modal shift wishes to date. All the more reason to appreciate the success of a mode of transport that is disadvantaged in many respects.
- Ecology and economy go hand in hand in combined transport, Gudrun Winner-Athens says. "If you want to operate combined transport economically, you have to choose this mode of transport with all its consequences, because everything else won't work.”
Photos: LHOF/Thomas Willemsen