You would perhaps hope to see a youngish salt-and-pepper-hair A-lister on a cover of a business magazine. But, today, the big size not necessarily makes the biggest difference, at least in logistics business. Those way smaller, if they work tenaciously hard, persevere and grow the business, smartly embracing and prompting sectoral changes themselves, are its true movers and shakers worth the biggest praise. Magnus Lepasalu, Partner and Member of the management Board of Balti Logistika, a Tallinn-based company offering freight forwarding and supply chain management services in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, is certainly a person of the kind. “Our goal is to be a leading logistics company with the happiest customers. I am sort of architect-type of person. I like to model new structures and design new processes. This is my thing,” says Magnus Lepasalu, under whose supervision the company has been flexing muscles. The Baltic Times Magazine sat down with Lepasalu to catch up what Balti Logistika is aiming at.
You›ve been with Balti Logistika for nearly 16 years now. What do you find most exciting about the company?
I started in Balti Logistika just after graduating university and have been growing together with the company and the Baltics logistics industry. It’s never been boring for me – there are always so many ideas and new projects in the pipeline. Because logistics has so many facets and levels, opportunities for new challenges are always available.
What major milestones of the development of Balti Logistika would you like to mention?
Within the last five years, we have doubled our turnover. Last year, we reached 14 million euro One of the turning points was when we took ourselves an ambition to become the most customer-centric logistics company in the Europe.
With the turnover doubled, our development ambition, however is substantially bigger. The next step of Balti Logistika in digitalization field is the launching of a new digital platform. In the first quarter of this year we enter the market with the solution where the customer can insert the data of shipment, place of departure and destination on our platform and the price algorithm of the system calculates the prices of different ways of delivery for the customer with only few seconds. The customer can obtain different real-time transport solutions for its delivery needs that can be formed into an order with one click. This is actually like “freight transport Skyscanner“. Their deliverable unit is a person, we have a shipment unit for that purpose. Such system ensures great time saving, more efficient internal work, speed and comfort for the customer and greater transparency of the supply chain. Similar platforms are currently already in use in Asia and North America. Balti Logistika is the first one at the Baltic market starting to provide such solution.
What do you believe is the biggest strength of Balti Logistika?
Balti Logistika has a long-term experience in organizing long-distance shipments by air, sea and rail. We have been offering good transport solutions in the direction of North America and Asia more than two decades. Currently we provide international transport services in almost 200 countries, including all the countries where Amazon has central storage sites.
What are the customers nowadays expecting from their logistics partner?
Supply chains have become more and more complicated and faster. Thus, the planning and selection of logistics partner is becoming increasingly important. Earlier the suppliers were chosen greatly based on the price, today the potential criteria in choosing the supplier are more numerous. Last year, we conducted the satisfaction survey among logistics service customers in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with the aim to establish the criteria important in choosing the logistics partner and the key characteristics for the companies in assessing the suppliers. All countries considered the fast delivery at the right time and place as crucial.
Slightly surprisingly the adherence to the contracts and taking the responsibility by the logistics company, not the good price, was on the second place. Excellent customer service, flexibility, speed and reliability were pointed out as the strengths of Balti Logistika in the course of survey. This is important feedback for us, providing assurance that we have been focusing on the right issues in our working processes. The high level of customer service is increasingly important in logistics, as the customers become more and more demanding as regards quality. Fast and correct response to price inquiries, flow of information, skilful settlement of forthcoming problems and timely conduct of agreed activities are expected from the logistics partner.
We have immensely contributed to the development of customer service in Balti Logistika. For example, every customer of ours has a personal account manager who knows the company and all its needs and can offer the most appropriate solution for the company. Thus, the customer saves time, as it does not have to explain about the background and requirements of its company each time to different transport operator. Today, logistics company is no more just a service provider, but a partner helping to make the supply chain more effective.
What are the main trends and the challenges faced today by logistics companies and Balti Logistika, too?
The global trends indicate that the main focus and attention need to be paid to increase in efficiency of transport sector, speeding up of delivery time and improving customer service. The introduction of new technologies and digitalization are herein of key importance. Otherwise, international transport has been a traditional and boring sector. It could be even stated that the last more serious innovation was launched half a century ago, when standard maritime containers were taken into use. Changes can be expected in the planning of the whole supply chain and logistics organization related to the development of technology and digitalization. Against general background of digitalization our sector has also started to deal with this issue more seriously, but we are still way behind compared to the majority of other business sectors. Today, most logistics people have come to understanding that there is no other way. It could be even said that digitalization is the next big thing after globalisation in the world of logistics.
How do you describe yourself as the decision maker?
I am sort of architect-type of person. I like to model new structures and design new processes. This is my thing. If something new and innovative, I am always there.
What characteristics and virtues are you looking in a person willing to work for your company?
We are looking passion for logistics, focused team-players, who have a courage to stand out and think differently.
As a pretty small company, how many workers do you have on the payroll?
As a matter of fact, we are a small team of 30 logistics professionals.
How does your company promote their loyalty?
We do not have any big bosses in the company, we work side-by-side towards our common goals. We try to be flexible employer and to support persons’ personal strivings.
What things are to look out for in the sector in the near future?
Logistics faces digirevolution. Data digitisation and digital compatibility with different parties of supply chain will be one of the most essential issues and the ones coping best with it are the winners. Digitalization enables the material growth in efficiency, improved customer experience and completely new business models. Digital logistic platforms have in recent years shown fast growth and these are believed to have great future. The transparency of supply chains as well as possibilities for fast response and general optimization of chains considerably improve. Also, increasingly more data are created in logistics, data quality has considerably improved and this enables to make best use of it for creating value.
Balti Logistika supports Estonian sports. Why?
We have been guided by the principle that fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. As this applies well for biathlon, Balti Logistika is sponsoring Estonian Biathlon Team. We are also official logistics partner for Estonian Expo Dubai 2020. Each year we are supporting Logistics Seminar organized by logistics students.
What are your personal and business expectations from 2020?
It’s really interesting times ahead us in logistics industry. As I already said, in the wind of digitalization business architecture and processes will start to change. We are already doing preparations for this. There are many new challenges ahead. From personal perspective, l hope to spend lot of quality time for my family. We like to travel a lot – at least 4 time a year. There has always been sport important in my life. In recent years, I have been a keen crossfit fan and I hope to reach to the next level in the new year.