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UAE, Dubai 2015 | TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Steen Hartwig, Managing Director of Freightworks, on integrated transport services, expansion plans, and transshipment.

Steen Hartwig
BIOGRAPHY
Steen Hartwig was educated at Syddansk Erhvervsskole in Denmark, where he received his International Business Degree with a focus on technical studies, international business, and exports. He has over 20 years of management experience and has lived and worked abroad for most of his career. Before Freightworks he was the General Manager of the supply chain division of DAL Group.

Freightworks provides integration of various transportation modes such as sea, air, and road freight, as well as diversified logistics services. Which of these areas represents more relevance in terms of profit for the company?

Traditionally, Freightworks has been an airfreight company primarily because of where we are—situated adjacent to the airport. Our focus has shifted significantly from being an airfreight import company to more on air and sea-freight exports because our customers require additional solutions to suit their supply chains. Of course, this country is also very much a transshipment point. You have the Far East, the Middle East, and transshipments into Europe and Africa as well. We also see many companies coming in now looking for other regional or global distribution capability out of the Middle East. Of course, Dubai is clearly in a prime location for this particular operation.

What are you doing to develop sea-freight business?

We have developed a five-year strategic plan on the growth and expansion of our footprint as Freightworks. Africa plays a major role, as does the Middle East, as well as some overseas locations in the Far East, Europe, and North America. We are looking at establishing Freightworks branches overseas, which will enable us to capture the opportunities that come from there and beyond into Africa and other markets.

What would you describe as the main strengths that differentiate Freightworks from its competitors?

We provide our customers with operational excellence, which we believe is the cornerstone of all service providers, and we deliver bespoke solutions to complex requirements in any given supply chain. Because of the structure we have within the company, we are capable of looking after our customers in a way that not all of our competitors can. We are set up with nine service delivery teams. Within each of those teams we have sales, customer service, sea freight, air freight, team leadership, and customs people, who can deliver a one-stop shop, which our customers appreciate.

You have a network of established partnerships. How important are these for developing the business?

We are members of the World Air Cargo Organisation (WACO). This organization was originally established to create a network of independent forwarding companies, and we are the representatives of this organization in the UAE. The principle of connecting independent freight forwarders is now distributed throughout the world. WACO just reached 100 member countries. We can reach all corners of the world as it is right now. I believe the future is going to move much more in the direction of smaller, more agile and capable companies, rather than toward larger multinational companies. This is exactly where customer service and customer experience really comes in. We deliver that, but not all multinationals can.

What are your expectations for how you will finish the year?

We will finish strongly, and will be posting our third consecutive year of growth. We have had significant accumulated growth over the past three and a half years. What we have done differently since I started with the company is we have generated some leadership within business growth areas—sales and business development. We have tripled our sales force to really get out into the market. If you look at the growth numbers that similarly sized companies, or even larger companies in the UAE post, ours are unmatched. We are reporting excellent growth, and we are satisfied that we can continue this trend. Having said that, we are not getting complacent because there are still many business opportunities out there that we can pursue. We are pursuing some really interesting challenges right now. Things are looking positive. We need to see how Dubai develops. However, there are going to be numerous exciting opportunities within the next two to four years.

How would you assess the level of competition between logistics companies here in Dubai?

There is a lot of competition. I have heard numbers of anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 registered freight-forwarding logistics companies, all the way from single-person briefcase operations, through to multinationals. This means that you can try to compete on the price, which is certainly what we are doing, but at the end of the day retaining the customer is linked much more to the customer's experience rather than the cost at any given time. We are also looking at expansion, acquiring new warehouses or additional space, and value-added services.