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September 8, 2021

Gerlach Customs: 140 years of customs expertise

Gerlach Customs, the leading neutral customs service provider in Europe, is celebrating its 140th anniversary. Being in business for so long shows a lot of entrepreneurial spirit, a well thought-out concept and a lot of flexibility. No wonder that the founding of the company in 1881 was already unusual – because it all started with a shipwreck.

Nowadays, anyone who hears the name Gerlach in the field of customs immediately thinks of quality, seriousness and unconditional customer orientation. These are all values that go back to the company’s founder Jean Arnaud Corneille Gerlach and to which the Gerlach employees still orient themselves. Jean Arnaud Corneille Gerlach was a Dutch businessman who was shipwrecked on one of his voyages. For the sake of his wife, he subsequently gave up sailing and in 1881 saw a new business opportunity in the then newly introduced border clearance of goods. This was the cornerstone of Gerlach’s success story, which continues to this day.

Stroke of fate becomes a new opportunity

Symbolic image for the company anniversary of Gerlach Customs.

Only 5 years after the company was founded, a catastrophe followed: Jean Arnaud Gerlach, his eldest son and also Gerlach’s business partner, the Jewish merchant Jacob Baruch, died shortly after each other. The only one in the family who was now able to continue the business was Arnaud, Gerlach’s youngest son, who attended a commercial college in Amsterdam. He had no choice but to drop out of his studies at the age of 17 and continue the business. Arnaud led Gerlach Zolldienste to many more successes and consistently drove expansion. After his death in 1929, his wife and two other business partners took over the management of the company, which by then already employed 200 people.

Reconstruction in the post-war period

The Second World War was a disaster, both in human and business terms. After the war, the two sons Arnaud (A.J.) and Willem (W.H.) took over the business and had to do a lot of reconstruction work. Only 16 employees had survived, 50% of the buildings were destroyed or damaged. But Gerlach started all over again and continued to expand – a short time later the company was represented in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Austria.

Today, the company still operates under the Gerlach name as a leading neutral provider of customs services in Europe. The company’s 140th anniversary was celebrated yesterday by the employees at a virtual event.

On the occasion of this great event, Gerlach has also published a new image video. Feel free to have a look here:

GERLACH is the leading neutral provider of customs services in Europe. With a network of 170 offices in 27 European countries and more than 1000 customs experts, the company covers the entire spectrum of customs services: From import, export and transit customs clearance to complex customs solutions, supply chain assessment and customs consultancy. A development that has only been possible since 1881 thanks to Gerlach’s employees. They are the ones who have ensured that the company has always stood for expertise in the field of customs, and who work hard and give their best every day.

Just like Jean Arnaud Corneille Gerlach once did, who turned a shipwreck into the leading customs service provider in Europe with great dedication and absolute customer orientation. And the company is also very well equipped for the future: Gerlach is consistently pushing ahead with digitalisation and thus continues to keep its finger on the pulse for its customers.

This article was written by:

Daniel Mahnken

Corporate Communication

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