40 years of innovation – milestone and incentive for the hidden champion in the mobility market, the PTV Group. CEO Vincent Kobesen provides insight into the company’s success story.
Compass: Vincent, 40 years of PTV – this is a very nice success story, isn’t it?
Vincent Kobesen (laughs): Absolutely! We at PTV have been keeping the world moving for 40 years. Certainly Hans Hubschneider and Michael Sahling wouldn’t have dreamed of this when they established the PTV Planungsbüro Transport und Verkehr GmbH in a backyard in November 1979.
That was a completely different era. Mainframe computers were standard then, and people were still miles away from real-time information. PTV created the world’s first digital maps from network points and developed the first software for routes and route planning. Previously, this was done with printed maps on the wall. It’s hard to even imagine that today.
Compass: You yourself weren’t there from the very start, but you’ve been associated with PTV for 30 years.
Vincent Kobesen: Yes, I became aware of PTV in 1988 and, together with Dyon van Gaans, started selling PTV products through our own company in the Netherlands – with great success. PTV-ORDIS B.V. was PTV’s investment abroad in 1990. In principle, the company’s internationalisation began there.
Compass: International activities were expanded further in the 1990s. Country organisations and cooperation partners in the USA, Great Britain, France, and Italy were added.
Vincent Kobesen: But the expansion really took off in 1999 with the establishment of PTV Planung Transport Verkehr AG. We began to open up many new markets, we invested in companies, and established new locations ourselves. In 2004, on the occasion of our 25th anniversary, we already had 18 investments abroad.
Compass: Founder Hans Hubschneider left the company in 2011 and you took over the position as CEO …
Vincent Kobesen: I worked with Hans on the Executive Board for three years before he retired at age 60. Things went very well then. There was a clear strategy laid out and we took off again.
Compass: Today, PTV is represented on all continents with nearly 30 branch offices and more than 800 employees.
Vincent Kobesen: PTV has made an international name for itself. We’re the world market leader in the traffic planning and transport optimisation sector. Every day, 30 million routes are optimised with our software; more than 2500 cities around the world rely on our solutions.
Once upon a time, we used to talk to the public works service to build a transport model. Today, we also speak to the mayor himself. Mobility has become an important topic for many cities, especially when it comes to tackling transport and logistics issues. Today, everybody orders everything online, which creates increasing delivery traffic and thus problems for cities. The focus is on seamless mobility for everyone: Pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, goods transport. Our big unique selling point is that we have more than 40 years’ experience in both transport and logistics.
We are the clever mind in the background that ensures that people and goods reach their destinations safely, efficiently, and in an environmentally-friendly manner. We are The Mind of Movement.
Compass: This is a company slogan that is also experienced internally at PTV.
Vincent Kobesen: Yes, we are all The Mind of Movement. Our colleagues are excited about shaping the future of mobility, a topic that is more popular than ever before. This also ensures that a lot of young people want to work here, providing a breath of fresh air. In principle, we’re a 40-year-old start-up – and we’re proud of this.
Compass: Surely the takeover by Porsche SE two years ago was a major milestone in the company’s history.
Vincent Kobesen: That was an exciting time for all of us. It was very important to the company founders that the company be put into good hands and they were convinced that Porsche SE would be an ideal partner. With this investor, we have many opportunities to grow further while retaining our independence in daily business. That’s very important to us.
Compass: So PTV is very well-positioned for the future?
Vincent Kobesen: I’m convinced of this. Naturally our goal is to remain number one when it comes to mobility optimisation. However, this also means that we can’t rest on our laurels. More and more large technology companies such as Siemens, Apple, Google, and others are trying to imitate PTV. And today’s winning technology is not guaranteed to be the winning technology of tomorrow. So we have to stay on the ball. After 40 years, we’re still a kind of fresh start-up, and we will use this positive mindset to take off once again.