The top managers’ and the team’s adherence to this principle as well as love to what they do help the company reach sustainable economic development and overcome obstacles during the period of turbulence by relying on its business partners and creating successful logistics solutions for participants in international trade.
Destinations has interviewed Inessa Platonova, the Deputy Chairperson of the Supervisory Board of PLASKE JSC, about the winning approach of the company.
– Your company has been operating on the market of forwarding, transportation and logistics services for more than twenty years. How has the strategy of PLASKE changed since its establishment?
Back then, many of the foreign economic operators experienced a number of issues in export and import operations within their international commercial transactions.
The key idea of the company’s strategy was the market’s need for the player that would be able to act as a guarantor of successful carriage for the freight owner and a communicator among manufacturers, consumers, carriers, supervising institutions at the border, and other players on the logistics market. A freight forwarder assumes responsibility for rendering a certain package of services, thus enabling the customer to have its products delivered to any part of the world easily at the optimum level of expenditures for transportation and related services, including transshipment, insurance and labelling as well as integrity and timely delivery of the freight.
Our strategy is based on consolidation of the knowledge and creative potential of specialists and experts in the area of international trade and shipping by any means of transport, who are capable of resolving complex issues as to preparation of transport and shipping documents and ensuring security of the supply chain and reducing economic risks. Thus freight owners can focus their energy and resources on more strategic issues, including entry into new markets, increase in the production capacity and expansion of the territory where their products are sold.
The fundamental values constituting the basis for the company, namely consistency and good faith in business, continuous urge to improve qualifications and study the related industries, openness for innovation, have remained unchanged, which allows us to develop steadily and strive to succeed on the transportation and forwarding service market.
Permanent changes in the global market trends make us focus on extension of our strategy by introducing the multimodality tools and digital economy elements. Our customers are offered new services: analysis of potential target markets and development of the marketing strategy for entry into those markets, including implementation thereof where necessary, organisation of participation in international trade shows and forums with the assistance of reliable partners in the countries requiring expansion, with account of the special aspects of the region, identification of the proper jurisdiction in order to optimise costs and protect the customer at all the stages of the supply chain.
We are inspired by the fact that we are able to not only develop and implement the convenient chain of logistics with economic and technological substantiation of the route, but also find new solutions for our customers to export more goods owing to our expertise and business activity on the international market.
We are inspired by the fact that we are able to find new solutions for our customers to export more goods.
– Can you list the most defining points in the company’s history which you treat as milestones?
Within the first days of activity the company had five employees only, but we needed the mechanism for prompt recruitment of the professional team, which is up to ninety people now, in order to satisfy the needs of the rapidly growing market. In 1999 in cooperation with the educational establishments and national associations we created the training centre for the transportation, forwarding and customs clearance industry specialists. We offer the courses and programmes certified by the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as well as state customs and aviation services of Ukraine. The knowledge gained can be certified by a diploma or certificate recognised by the government authorities of Ukraine when you apply for a licence for certain types of activities, e.g. the right to sell freight and passenger transportation by air.
The next step was involvement of the ambitious and talented young people who could gain special knowledge in our industry based on the international standards and start to render high-quality services to our customers within a short time. As a result, we increased the volume and expanded the range of our transportation and forwarding services quite fast. Our company’s shareholders realised that we needed to give educational opportunities to everyone interested in order to raise the standards of industry.
We have been participating in the International Freight Forwarder’s Day held in Odesa within the Inter-TRANSPORT Exhibition since the 2000s. As the event had gained popularity, it turned into the annual International Trade and Transport Week (ITTW). The seminar of the UN Economic Commission for Europe on simplification of the trading procedures and development of the Single Window has been held there for nine years in a row, which has enabled implementation of the project “Single Window – Local Solution” by creating the United Port Community Information System.
When the complexity and scope of orders increased in 2004, we felt an urge to standardise our processes in accordance with the national and international standards, ISO National Standards of Ukraine, and to develop the efficient management system by means of the process and project method. We have found a new solution for consistent reliability and sustainability of our operations. It is self-assessment based on the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model, which enables us to assess our activity and level of stakeholders’ satisfaction, to analyse business processes, and to identify the priority areas to be improved in a comprehensive manner.
In order to bring the company’s values aimed at reaching seventeen goals related to the company’s sustainable development into action, we have signed the United Nations Global Compact and adhere to ten principles of corporate social responsibility, which enhances our position of a reliable partner on the global market.
– You are a diversified company. What helps you ensure the high quality and diversification of services in all the areas?
Freight forwarding actually is a diversified competence, which includes organisation of shipping, customs clearance, advisory services, insurance, control over safety of the freight, protection of the freight owner’s rights in loading and unloading, interaction with different carriers, and other services.
The consistent management approach and active participation in operations of such international professional unions and associations as "Ukrvneshtrans", Ukraine International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Ukraine), Organisation for Cooperation between Railways (OSJD), International Union of Railways (UIC), have given us the opportunity to join the project as an operator of the train of combined transport Viking. The train travels through Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania and connects a number of marine container and piggyback lines in the Baltic Region with the equivalent system of the Black, Mediterranean and Caspian Seas. PLASKE has also become the General Freight Agent of the Navigation Maritime Bulgare in Ukraine, which allows multimodal transportation based on the single document.
Still, nothing would be achieved but for the single-minded team and united efforts in reaching the company’s goals.
– To your mind, how will the industry develop? What are the company’s current priorities in business development?
The industry definitely needs an upgrade and introduction of integral innovation solutions using intelligent transport. Its development can be accelerated by public-private partnership as well as refusal from traditional documents in hard copy to the advantage of electronic records.
Our company’s priority is sustainable development of multimodal transportation between Europe and Asia and tailored logistics solutions. We continue to keep the course of automation and a gradual transition to start servicing customers via web-portals so that the information transmission and protection will be accelerated, and customers will be given an opportunity to manage tasks and information on their own 24/7.
– Smooth operation of the export and import supply mechanism plays a key role in development of international trade. What services does your company offer its partners to support their foreign economic activity?
A freight forwarder is an architect of the supply chain for the freight owner’s benefit and, in most cases, is a principal of the carriage who assumes responsibility for the entire transport operation, from the place where the freight is received to the point of destination. The freight forwarder’s functions generally include assessment of terms and conditions of the foreign economic contract, payment of transportation fees, customs clearance, different expert examinations, support of insurance coverage, financial guarantees and safeguards, warehousing and other services as ordered by the customer. As freight forwarders, we have the right to issue a multi-modal bill of lading constituting a basis for documentary settlements, namely a letter of credit and collection of payments, which guarantees their safety and accelerates settlements between the transaction parties.
Success is loving what we do and not being ashamed for what we get.
– How is your company’s motto, Energy of Motion, embodied in its operations?
Our motto can be compared with the famous saying: nothing ventured, nothing gained. In other words, nothing will change unless you try.
We are always open to the new, stay strong in the pursuit of our goals and take a proactive position both in our professional activity and development of culture of our native city and the country in general. Most of our social and cultural projects are long-term and consistent. We are proud to have Odesa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, Odesa Literature Museum, Odesa National Scientific Library, and World-wide Club of Odessites as our partners.
– What are your insights of success?
The main thing is to be sincere in anything you do, including business, family, friendship, and social projects. Trust and faith of the team, customers, partners, friends, family, and relatives make you keep developing and moving ahead.
Life is never about the goals themselves. Life is about the journey, where achieving a dream is a momentary sensation, and your life is not. If every step becomes something to learn or something to celebrate, we will for sure enjoy the journey.
Success is loving what we do and not being ashamed for what we get. Do not believe that when success comes, you can relax, and that someone knows all the answers to our questions.