“Communication is crucial in freight transport”
Cost precedes benefit. This well-known Dutch adage is something the folks at Share Logistics agree with. As a freight forwarder, you are always a cost item for customers. But, partnering with these customers and using smart solutions, knowledge and speed helps keep the end costs down.
Sea freight specialist Martijn van der Velden and air freight specialist Willi Hoogeboom, both at Share Logistics, explain how the company helps get all kinds of horticulture-related items from A to B.
Three billion plants in the air
Willi gets straight to the point: “Each year we transport around three billion seedlings to and from the Netherlands.” Share Logistics does this for local and foreign customers, producers as well as producer associations. Their clients include Addenda, Floricultura, Syngenta and Dummen Orange.
Know-how and creativity
What is involved? “Simply put, a lot of communication. There are also fewer and fewer very knowledgeable people these days. So you need to explain more about the transport, especially the documentation. You have to explain the process from A to Z and keep checking everything. So, at Share, they do everything to keep this know-how up to date, explains Willi.
“Shipping companies want to put as much responsibility as possible on the customer,” adds Martijn. “And everything has to be delivered digitally. The shipping company only delivers, customers have to fill everything in. So freight forwarders have a key role, that’s why Share invests a lot in its people, to retain their knowledge.”
“We have to focus on a higher segment. We are not always the cheapest, but we want to be the best and the fastest. The logistics flows have to keep working, which requires know-how and creativity. That’s how we want to set ourselves apart.”
What is transported? When you think of air freight, flowers may come to mind. However, according to Willi, this is not their company’s core business. “For us it’s mostly seedlings, cuttings, seeds, fish, meat, fruits and vegetables. We also do flowers, but that’s not our goal per se.”
These products can be transported heated or cooled. “We also pack for customers; for example, we add dry ice to seeds that are to be shipped frozen. In addition, we pack the pallets and take care of phytosanitary inspections at our inspection station. The local quality control office and Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) visit regularly,” he says.
This station is at Schiphol Airport and has even been designated a Border Inspection Point (BIP), where the NVWA carries out checks, ensuring shipments meet all requirements. Thus, the cargo does not have to go to an external inspection location, which saves transportation costs.
Willi highlights another strong point – the distribution, collection and consolidation of incoming shipments. “For example, we have 800 different delivery addresses in the Benelux for one of our large customers.” This requires considerable organization, but Share in Amsterdam now has the team for it. In 2019, they started with three distribution people, but now have nearly 50. This team allows Share to communicate with customers through all possible channels, from phone to mail and from WhatsApp to Twitter.
After all, these customers need to know what to expect: when will the delivery arrive? Can we expect a load of organic berries, so we know if we have to prepare the machines for it? “We try to empathize with shippers and receivers. We are true partners with our customers because we are together.”
As mentioned, Martijn takes care of sea freight. This involves products like fresh fruits and vegetables in export and third party trade. “Most importantly, we deal with imports of fresh fruits from Central and South America: limes, ginger, watermelons, garlic, etc. Anything fresh should be handled quickly.
This quick handling is crucial for imports. “In this process, you have to arrange everything well in advance, declare the cargo, do the paperwork on time, and arrange transportation from the dock. Because every day of delay means depreciation for fresh produce,” he says. .
Fast processing is essential, especially now that shippers around the world are dealing with congestion. “There are things like ships leaving port of loading later and shipping companies having to change ship routes. Customers need to be aware of those things as well, so communication is really key.”
Martijn van der Velden
Share’s ocean freight division has direct import and export customers. “To properly monitor arrangements at loading ports, we are members of several agent networks, including WCA, X2 and CCC – this is how you bundle buying forces,” says Martijn.
This way of working follows the sharing well because it is in fact a set of niches. “An overhead view of Share Logistics shows a base in Rotterdam where all sorts of specialties or niches are plugged in: airfreight, reefer and projects. However, we also have a department that supplies stage material for major artists like Coldplay , Pink, and the Rolling Stones.”
“We keep these departments separate, so let’s stay true to our craft. We’re a flat but very broad organization,” says Martijn. The group now employs 250 people, achieved a turnover of 240 million euros last year, of which food accounted for a third. “We want to increase this percentage to 50.”
Share is a real Rotterdam company, born out of a management buy-out with eight shareholders. “What’s great is that the decision-makers are all accessible. So decisions are made very quickly, and if there are opportunities somewhere, we act immediately, so as not to miss the boat.”
Spain is a possibility for expansion, and the company has been busy for some time with warehouses. “There are three or four, each now added to the sharing group. This means that we can offer value-added services in Spain apart from sea freight,” continues Martijn.
The new normal?
Fast switching is also a requirement for air freight, due to capacity issues and delays, Willi adds. “So many companies are being harmed. There are capacity shortages in Kenya and South Africa, but also in Asia and South America. There is simply no return freight. Seventy for cent of the products are shipped on passenger planes, but the tourist flow has still not resumed after the pandemic. There are far fewer return flights. Experts estimate that this situation could last at least another three or four years.
Still, Share Logistics is optimistic about the future. This optimism is evident when Martijn talks about the results achieved in sea freight. “Last year, in terms of container volume, we shipped around 75,000 TEU globally. We also purchased an additional 60,000 TEU of ocean freight through contracts. These volumes mean significant purchasing power for shipping companies,” he concludes.
For more information:
Martijn van der Velden
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +31 (0) 105 033 820
Mobile: +31 (0) 648 515 927
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +31 (0) 207 630 096
Mobile: +31 (0) 638 298 198