“Success as a result of passion and hard work” – interview with Vesta for the logistic branch magazine
Vesta Polska is an international logistics company providing its services to many global and local producers and trade companies. The following people describe the company’s path to success, its further plans and the situation of the TSL market: President of the Management Board of Vesta Polska – Witalij Rudnicki, Commercial Director – Krzysztof Frątkiewicz and Transport Manager – Rafał Batorowicz.
What is the current situation on the transport and logistics market in Poland and how do you think the TSL industry works?
Rafał Batorowicz (RB): In my opinion, the situation on the transport, forwarding and logistics market is changing dynamically and, unfortunately, some emerging situations and problems are completely new. We cannot use the experience of previous years to solve them. The market, that is people, react very differently and, unfortunately, emotions are transferred to their behaviour. Recently, the Mobility Package has aroused great emotions in the entire logistics industry. It caused more concern than it a sense of security. Unfortunately, the discussion about the legitimacy and content of this package, observed nowadays in public space in Poland, is not optimistic, and even raises uncertainty. An uncertain person does not invest and loses advantage on the market without investing. In my opinion, the discussion alone reduces the competitiveness of Polish transport on the European market.
Witalij Rudnicki (WR): I agree. However, on the other hand, there is no future without changes, everything is changeable. We can consider it as evolutionary progress in transport. The strongest or the fastest will stay. This healthy competition between transport companies has of course been shaken by politics, but you need to be able to adapt, find a recipe for the situation and keep doing your work, i.e. provide services of the quality expected by the customer.
Krzysztof Frątkiewicz (KF): I would add that the words of what Rafał clearly hits the Polish carrier and takes a lot of energy to find a balance in business. Constant changes in legislation do not encourage to develop, as well. However, I also agree that competition is necessary. It contributes to development, to seeking new ways and opportunities, opens us to new customers and helps to offer them something that competitors have not noticed yet.
WR: It would seem that transport is very close to politicians. Their kilometres can cause complexes of even professional drivers (laughs).
RB: Returning to the subject of the situation in TSL. The timeliness of payments for services rendered and the dates that customers impose on transport are major challenges and difficulties for most transport and forwarding companies. We have already reached the absurd payment deadlines, to which we, the carriers, are forced to agree. The payment period of 60 days from the delivery of correctly issued accounting documents and the original CMR is probably already a standard. Cooperation with customers who have a payment period of 120 days after a three-month bulk invoice is often observed!
KF: Note that if the car was loaded on March 30, it will be unloaded in April. Considering that our car goes to the base once every 2-3 months, all transport documents travel with the driver for an indefinite period of time. Of course, we try to make drivers transfer documents faster, but let’s be honest, problems sometimes happen, these are routes, distances, etc. If the driver provides us with the original CMR even in the middle of April, then I will issue an invoice. From now on, it is two weeks for the Polish Post Office to provide a set of documents with the invoice for the service for each day of three months. If there is an error, discrepancy or omission of some information, the customer will notify us and wait for the correct set of documents. Only after receiving them, it begins to count down the time for payment. Let me remind you – 120 days. We, as the company, must cover the costs of providing the service almost immediately, in the month of the service. 120 days of waiting come out to issue an invoice with the payment deadline for the next 120 days. Here, assuming the best variant, we already have 240 days without money for the service and with huge fixed costs. We are waiting impatiently for money to appear on our account even within the deadline. The year has 365 days, the company is waiting for a fee of 240 days.
WR: To conclude this topic, I would like to add that if people who order transport and who participate in the supply chain read it, I want to tell them: please remember that by extending the payment deadline for transport, forwarding, logistics services to the maximum, you kill our transport. You directly contribute to the bankruptcies of Polish transport entrepreneurs, who put a lot of effort every day to meet all requirements, despite the high fixed costs in transport (payment for fuel, roads, drivers, repairs, leasing, car service, etc.). We, as the transport company, must be your investor, lender and service provider without receiving anything at the same time. We are struggling to keep not only your business, but also your family.
You cannot enjoy the development of Polish transport in Western Europe and its competitiveness, at the same time causing problems in the form of late payments or extending the deadline to unreal dates. Customers help us with the payment deadline, and you will see how we will help you in your struggles on the TSL market!
If there were and are so many obstacles and problems for the industry and in the industry, how had a company like Vesta Polska survived and even developed its business? How has the company changed in the last 5 years?
WR: People are the secret! Those who are sitting with you now and those who remain at their posts performing their duties as best they can. Maybe my colleagues have more to say about it. However, I stress that such people and the rest of the team did it. Even if I say more, it is also thanks to all those who, unfortunately, have left us for various reasons. They also contributed to what Vesta Polska is now on the TSL market. Of course, not everyone, but many. Unfortunately, I could not stop a lot of good people with enthusiasm for work. From this place I would like to thank them for their presence and contribution to our development. For many of you, our company’s doors are always open.
KF: Full commitment of each employee, starting from the reception and ending with management, have allowed such a growth effect. We realize that if it was not for some decisions and mistakes, Vesta would be even bigger today. But the child begins to take the first steps not from running, but from crawling. We have grown up to run. If we are not the first, we want the competition to feel our breath on the back of the neck (laughs).
RB: This work is amazing fun and passion for us. Look at Robert Lewandowski. He is always happy, he plays on the field, although he worked hard and still works to always keep fit and win. I want to involve such approach to business, as well. It is hard work, but provides incredible satisfaction and fun. I think that in our case it is a key for success and that is why today we can boast of a 30-40% increase each year. We cannot count on good luck with our service volume. This is hard and solid work of every employee of Vesta Polska.
What actions or factors does Vesta owe its successes to?
RB: It is difficult to name one or several specific actions. This is the sum of various factors, sometimes overlapping and sometimes completely independent. We frequent analyse our results and possibilities. It is from the analysis of past events that we try to eliminate the elements generating costs and not giving income. We acquire new customers; we activate those who for some reason no longer work with us. We tried to benefit from “our 5 minutes” and develop together with the entire market. We benefited from the economic growth of Poland and other EU countries. During the year, with most of our customers, we have doubled the number of completed orders, and for several of them we have become a leader in transport services. This is obviously a reason to be happy, but it also generates new challenges to achieve a better result!
KF: As a person responsible for sales in the Company, I see a large increase in the turnover of goods on the market, but at the same time completely new expectations and requirements of customers. I agree with Rafał, and I will only add that the most was done with regular customers. We were together at different times and now trust in Vesta Polska pays off because they know our quality of work. Of course, we convince new ones to give us a chance to show our capabilities.
WR: I will repeat myself, but it is worth it – a human factor! The development of every employee in the Company influenced the success of Vesta Polska to the greatest extent. And as a colleague has said before – it must be fun in what you do. If you do not enjoy work, you will not succeed.
Why did Vesta Polska deal with logistics and handling of spatial goods?
KF: When I started working in Vesta Polska, all directions were serviced with standard trailers (tarpaulins, curtain), cold stores (REF) and isotherms. We transported a lot of hygiene products, i.e. light, but spatial items. I managed the directions assigned to me, as an international forwarder, with these sets. The additional five pallets made a huge difference to such transports and generated higher profits for the same work. These were our beginnings with spatial sets. From the following weeks, we transported most of the customer’s goods only with 120 m3 spatial sets. In my opinion, this was what directed Vesta Polska.
RB: Only 5 years have passed since this breakthrough in 2013. We already have 80 such sets in our fleet and we plan to expand it. I mentioned earlier that this is not enough for us. Appetite comes during the meal. Despite the difficulties as well as political and economic turmoil, we know how to organize our rolling stock so that it is not a burden for the company, but quickly gives a return on investment and is an additional option in the range of services offered by Vesta Polska.
What plans does Vesta Polska have for the next 5 years?
RB: As I mentioned, we plan sustainable development just as it has been until now. We are observing market changes and are considering buying more cars for our rolling stock, including spacial sets. However, everything will become clear in the next months. We are considering the purchase of transport or forwarding companies that cannot cope with today’s market situation. The reason involves not necessarily wrong management, but external factors, including shortcomings in the cash register due to extended payment terms, lack of drivers on the market and others. In the following years, I would like the company to expand its rolling stock with more cars, and thus, increase employment. We want to continue to enjoy our duties and invite other TSL enthusiasts to us – people encouraged rather than discouraged by challenges. We are open to people who like adrenaline and feel the joy of well-done work.
WR: Vesta will definitely not stand still. Everyone wants to go ahead and learn new things, overcome their weaknesses, be someone and have something. They pay the same for the same. How long can a man enjoy the same?
KF: I believe that everyone in the company thinks similarly. I agree with the previous speakers, we will change and grow with the market. Just a little faster than before.