A solid foundation is a prerequisite for success in any business. However, a good start alone does not guarantee a bright future.
Logistics leader Kuehne + Nagel uses a mixture of foresight, drive and training to guarantee its continuing development.
Kuehne + Nagel is a pioneer in the industry in China, entering the market early in 1979. "Unlike other companies which operate mainly via agencies or by joint ventures, we do our business through our offices on the mainland, which are wholly owned and managed by the group," says Franz Hasenohrl, regional director of sales and marketing, Asia Pacific, Kuehne + Nagel (Asia Pacific) Management Ltd. This has allowed the company to avoid the complications involved in going through third parties and thus enhanced its efficiency. "The quality management and global logistics capability directly from Kuehne + Nagel are the keys that keep us the market leader in Asia Pacific as well as in the world," Mr Hasenohrl notes.
The group has further corroborated its market-leading position since it was the first international logistics provider to have been granted a Class A forwarder's licence in March 2004, which entitles it to run its offices in China under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA). Through this significantly enhanced flexible status, the group continues to strengthen its position as a full service logistics provider.
Kuehne + Nagel's culture demands excellence. "Our goal is to maintain growth at a rate double that of the market average," Mr Hasenorhl says. "To achieve it, we need to think of the best solutions for our customers, as logistics service is no longer as simple as shipping goods from one port to another. We pay attention to the smallest details, no matter how trivial they may seem. We are selling market-oriented products, which means we make our customer's problems our own and then we solve them."
As technology has pervaded other industries, so too is it having an effect in logistics. Mr Hasenohrl believes that Kuehne + Nagel's superior IT based platform is one of the main differentiators between the company and its competitors. For comprehensive visibility and monitoring of the supply chain, Kuehne + Nagel has developed an Internet-based IT solution called "KN Login", which is made of various modules and can be adapted to the specific needs of the customer. With a user name and a password, the customer can trace and track the shipment via the Internet, receiving comprehensive information as detailed as the cargo's container number, and even down to the item level, while assured privacy and security.
The format and operating method of the IT system are globally standardised, which increases efficiency across all workstations, and to maintain its edge the company constantly upgrades it.
Across the Asia Pacific region, Kuehne + Nagel has a presence at 125 locations in 20 countries. In Hong Kong, where its regional headquarters is located, there are more than 700 staff supporting integrated management services which include sea freight, airfreight, rail, road, contract logistics and lead logistics.
Being the number one sea freight forwarder, sustaining double-digit growth year after year, Kuehne + Nagel can guarantee cargo capacities through its extensive partnerships with preferred carriers.
To maintain Kuehne + Nagel's value standards, all new employees are informed about company processes and oriented by their supervisors. For example, Mr Hasenohrl says, as the role model in the section, a sea freight manager needs to supervise and support several sub-managers in daily operational and administrative work. He or she needs to be a highly organised person who possesses both industrial know-how and good management skills.
Sea freight managers are also responsible for monitoring data quality and reviewing process flow to cater for diverse and changing customer needs, and for ensuring the safety of those around them."The company has been granted an ISO 9001 certificate across all business units worldwide. The managers have the duty to ensure all the regulations under it are complied with,"
Mr Hasenohrl says. "Quality, safety, health, environment and security are paramount in everything we do."
Employees may be involved in departmental affairs and other various cross-divisional activities. Therefore, they must combine professionalism with different soft skills such as for interpersonal communication.
To develop its human assets, Kuehne + Nagel makes substantial investments in motivating and cultivating employees. A full range of training programmes have been specially designed for staff at various levels.
Mr Hasenohrl points out that in line with the company's business goals, Kuehne + Nagel puts a great emphasis on employees' personal growth. To support this the company provides tailor-made on skill training such as presentation, communication and leadership, combining Kuehne + Nagel's input with training expertise from external consultancies.
As a logistics giant, the company offers a secure and stable work environment for people joining the field. Moreover, as the company's interests continue to expand, so too does the need for talented new people. "There are tremendous opportunities in various segments within the group. Whether you choose to be a specialist or a generalist, we have choices in a wide spectrum of positions with global exposure," Mr Hasenohrl says.