TBY talks to Vasily Ni, CEO of Europe-Asia-Transit LLP, on the development of the market for logistics services, and the advantages and prospects of Kazakhstan’s transit potential.
TBY How has your company developed since its establishment in 1998?
VASILIY NI Today, Europe-Asia-Transit (EAT LLP) is one of the largest transportation and logistics companies operating in Kazakhstan. Since its establishment the company has been through a few major stages that have contributed to the formation, strengthening, and expansion of the company. We started as a ground-handling agent providing services in temporary storage at Almaty International Airport. Quickly enough, we came to the decision that in order to grow we needed to expand the line of services we provided. Thus, freight-forwarding services have developed into one of the principal activities of the company. Our country, situated between Europe and Asia, enjoys a unique geographical position, so we started organizing new freight routes by integrating different modes of transport. Through the development of new multimodal delivery schemes we have been able to reduce costs and increase freight flows to the country. With input from our company, the first transit/transfer zone was put into operation at Almaty International Airport in 2000 in order to increase transit flows and also improve service quality and increase the speed of cargo handling. To improve the quality of incoming cargo transport handling and provide various operational solutions, the construction of the first multimodal cargo terminal in Asia was initiated by our company and started with our direct participation in 2005. This project was approved by the Ministry of Transport and Communications and received a positive evaluation from representatives of the Eurasian Economic Community and the State Customs Committee. To proceed with the project’s development, a Memorandum of Cooperation between our company and the Customs Committee was signed. Throughout the course of its development, the company has strictly followed state initiatives and guidelines stipulated in programs such as Strategy of Transport Sector Development of up to 2015. The company is a member of international and national organizations such as IATA, TIACA, FAGSA, the American Chamber of Commerce, and it is included in the suppliers databases of the Ministry of Industry and Innovative Technologies and the Ministry of Oil and Gas, as well as in First Point Kazakhstan, a database developed to register all suppliers to the oil and gas industry in Kazakhstan. According to the Air Cargo World magazine, EAT LLP was the only Kazakhstani company in the top-20 freight forwarders of the Asia Pacific region in 2008. Over the period of its operation, EAT has established itself as a reliable partner both in Kazakhstan and abroad. Yet, we forge ahead and seek new development options. Thus, the new mission was set in 2010 to create a national brand that would be associated with reliability and high-quality services meeting international standards in the field of transport logistics. Thereby, we are expanding the geography and range of provided services to obtain the opportunity to provide customer service. In 2010, the company adopted a development strategy that also involved the opening of 25 offices all around the world. Now we have branches all across Kazakhstan, as well as foreign branch offices in Hannover, Frankfurt, Vilnius, Seoul, Sharjah, and Istanbul, and six offices in major US cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Miami, Atlanta, and Chicago. Moreover, this is just a part of our plans aimed at expansion on the global market. These achievements would have been impossible without the appreciation and support of the state.
EAT LLP has received numerous awards for quality. How did you develop your team?
Working face to face with the customers we understand that the professional qualification of our employees is of crucial importance as it affects the level and quality of service and the company’s reputation. That is exactly why we place strong emphasis on the training and professional development of employees. The company has a training center and there is a special training system for new employees. Furthermore, whenever we enter into agreements with big international companies, we ensure that these agreements provide for skill and knowledge sharing for our employees through joint workshops and the exchange of staff. In addition to investing in training, we constantly expand our technical base, and every year we try to offer new products to meet the most sophisticated customer needs; there is a special research team engaged in the development of these products. We see the EAT team as our own family, and each team member as a member of the family because we know that the company’s internal environment affects its operations. To strengthen these traditions the company organizes corporate team-building exercises and outings on a regular basis. Providing that we fully appreciate the value of each employee we always try to help our colleagues by rendering support, creating favorable working conditions, and providing employees with all wage supplements. This affects the quality of the teamwork in direct proportion. The high quality of teamwork is attested by our clients and certified by well-deserved awards. The list of our clients includes, but is not limited to, major national and international companies such as Kazakhmys, Kazakhtelecom, Air Astana, Kazzinc, Coca-Cola, State Air Company Berkut, the OSCE, Fashion Retail Kazakhstan, Caspian Offshore Construction, VILED, Highvill, Wirtgen Group, Citic Construction, Sinopec, Sembol, the Banknote Factory of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Halyk Bank, Zhezkazganredmet, and the US and Japanese embassies. The company is actively involved in the logistics processes of the country’s industrial development. We are participating in the reconstruction of the Atyrau oil refinery, the construction and logistical support for the Pavlodar Chemical Plant, and construction of the largest asphalt plant in the Mangystau region, as well as the construction of Heating Power Plant (HPP) 3 in Astana. We handled the transportation of the Coca-Cola Company plant from Kazakhstan to Pakistan, provided logistics for the construction of the Khan Shatyr complex in Astana, and assisted in the organization of the Beijing 2008 Olympic torch relay in Kazakhstan. EAT LLP was awarded with and “Arch of Europe” gold medal for Technology and Quality, a certificate of the World Customs Organization, and has been repeatedly recognized as the best brokerage company. Since 2007, an annual audit of the quality management system has been carried out at the company in accordance with ISO 9001:2000 accreditation.
In which sectors do you see the greatest demand for your services?
Kazakhstan, being a young state with unique natural resources, is in the process of the active development of its industrial capabilities. With this objective in view the government has developed such programs as the national development plan “Business Roadmap 2020,” the Forced Industrial and Innovation Development Program, and more. Thus, there is a universal development of chemical and energy industries as well as oil and gas, mining, metallurgical mining, and aviation sectors in the country. In these areas, we see the principal demand for our services. The rapid development of the state determines the basic demand for the whole chain of logistic services. Working from new freight routes, implementing infrastructure projects, broadening services across the country, and bringing in transit cargo traffic are all factors that single EAT LLP out as a unique company able to provide the complete range of services that the client might need.
What trends do you see emerging?
Logistics has the potential to become a leading sector in Kazakhstan. The arrangements developed by the government will enable Kazakhstan to become a major transit hub in Central Asia. This is the main trend. The geopolitical position of Kazakhstan as a bridge between Europe and Asia, the formation of the Customs Union with a common customs legislation as a consequence, the construction of infrastructure facilities, as well as the favorable investment climate determine the basic trends of transit and its growth. EAT LLP was one of the first companies carrying out transit from China via Kazakhstan to Europe and other countries. EAT LLP is actively involved in the development and implementation of a number of infrastructure projects conducive to favorable conditions for the growth of the country’s transit potential. We believe that these and many other instruments will turn Kazakhstan into a Eurasian transit bridge.
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