Hong Kong's economy has progressively transformed over the past 10 years and one sector that has seen substantial development is the field of logistics.
Gilbert Lau, managing director and founder of Oriental Logistics Holdings Company Limited, recalls, "In 1997, the industry was less demanding than today and the services that we could provide to our clients were limited."
Mr Lau started off his business offering traditional transportation and warehouse services for general cargo and various kinds of hazardous goods. In those days, it was not possible to monitor the entire logistics process through a computerised system, but the company successfully performed all its tasks and planning using the limited resources available at the time. Even then, the potential for growth existed, Mr Lau says.
"I remember well how tedious and time-consuming each stage of the logistics processes was before we had the benefit of technology to support our operation. There have been many advances through the years, leading to the efficient workflow system we have now."
Over the past few years, Mr Lau grabbed the golden opportunities offered by the industry.
"As a leading logistics provider in Hong Kong, our company has gradually grown to offer total logistics services. We have progressed tremendously over the past few years, developing a number of service packages to suit our clients' business models and always aiming to give them maximum flexibility," he notes.
The complete logistics solutions on offer include system design, inventory management, warehousing, transportation, distribution and international freight forwarding.
Even with full information technology support, Internet-based logistics control systems and customised software to meet clients' specific needs, there are still challenges, Mr Lau concedes. The company must be extra careful when storing and distributing chemicals or toxic, flammable and hazardous materials, for example.
"We have considerable experience when it comes to dealing with these sorts of materials, but it still requires a great deal of care. Many of our clients are large, international corporations from industries ranging from fashion and beauty products to the catering sector, and they have high expectations," Mr Lau points out. "We therefore have specially designated areas for the packaging and storage of hazardous cargo of various categories, as well as high-tech equipment to ensure that top security and safety standards are maintained."
Oriental Logistics is proud of its wide range of services and cost-effective and dependable solutions, but Mr Lau believes what really differentiates the company from its competitors are its people and the time and effort spent on developing their capabilities.
Newly appointed staff must complete various training programmes and pass a number of examinations before taking up their positions within the company. For certain roles, special government licences are required. "We continue to provide extensive training for staff throughout their employment with us, in order to enhance their technical expertise and customer relations skills," Mr Lau stresses, adding that it is essential for staff to be equipped with the necessary skills and the right attitude.
"Our internal audits continuously measure our own performance to make sure that we are providing quality and reliable service to our customers. It is only through teamwork that we can achieve this," he says.
Apart from constant staff development, the company also has a specific recruitment strategy. "We host an annual management trainee programme for fresh graduates interested in a career in the logistics industry," Mr Lau explains. "Although the field can be quite competitive, successful candidates can develop into capable leaders within two years of extensive, quality training."
Mr Lau adds, "Success is a journey, not a destination. This belief was a great motivation for me over the past 10 years and our company will continue to hold onto this for years to come in our quest for service excellence."