There is always so nice to get new acquaintances with people, the enterprises of clients, visits to remote corners on Sakhalin, the Far East, foreign countries. It leaves an indelible impression and a desire to repeat forever.
Vladimir Gennadievich, how did it all start? How did you get into logistics? Why did you choose this direction?
Probably, there are only few people from my generation can clearly describe their way into logistics. At that time, they did not study specifically for a logistics. It was a matter of chance. I liked that the work was connected with international activities, which were rare for people at that time.
In addition, at the beginning of my career, I managed to pass a good practice of direct work with the state department represented by the Ministry of Railways and at the same time get lessons in customer service in a Japanese company.
I still remember the first major contract of Stock-Trans-Service, as we were called at the beginning of our activity, with Surgutneftegaz, whose managers believed in a young but ambitious company and mutually did not lose. Of course, it was not easy to organize such a contract, but in the 90s everything was much easier: I took the money for transportation on my word of honor from my friend, and due to the modernization of the fastening scheme of equipment, I saved about 20%, which at that time was a huge amount of money for us. It's so good to see the results of your work in the delivered cargo and the appropriate reward for that.
There is always so nice to get new acquaintances with people, the enterprises of clients, visits to remote corners on Sakhalin, the Far East, foreign countries. It leaves an indelible impression and a desire to repeat forever. Logistics is probably one of the surest ways to organize it.
This year STS Logistics remains one of the most significant logistics companies in Russia. What or who allows you to keep such a high bar?
Our specialty is a complex approach. We give for our clients a full range of services that are required for the movement, customs clearance and storage of goods. We deliver the cargo by all types of transport, so the client receives everything that logistics can provide via one window. This is the main competitive advantage.
Plus, we have a good core of employees who have been working in the company for many years, and the management is its founders. Many employees have experience of working together since 1996-1997. And, accordingly, the coherence of work, when everything goes in the same direction.
Having a team is always a big plus for business.
Were there any indicators in the work that grew despite everything in a difficult 2020 year?
Last year like the whole world we got into this situation with a pandemic. It was not easy, but by reducing unnecessary expenses, we achieved good results, and without increasing sales. Thus, we managed to achieve the annual plan for 2020 in terms of EBITDA in just 6 months (note: profit before taxes and depreciation), so the year was not so bad. Of course, we had to face a little discomfort, which always accompanies such events, but the result speaks for itself.
By the way, I would like to note that the reduction of the office space due to increasing remote work of employees practically did not affect the usual way of office life and only benefited business.
Is there a business area of STS Logistics that is currently developing more dynamically than the others?
Now the multimodal direction is very popular (note: transportation under one contract using two or more modes of transport). We can see this in the implementation of plans and in the popularity of sales in this sector, especially in transportation from China. This is one of the most difficult areas right now. Nevertheless, it is also the most popular, with large volumes. The availability of containers is not easy now, but our employees are solving these issues, and the work is actively underway. We can see this from the reports about the implementation of plans – the multimodal direction has grown almost 1.5 times.
Does the company plan to expand its presence and, if so, in which cities of Russia or abroad?
Naturally, we have some strategic plans for development, but due to some restrictions, I am not ready to speak about it right now.
What trends or innovative technologies in logistics now need to be implemented everywhere in order to keep up with the times, and which could be postponed for a dozen years?
The transport strategy of Russia assumes that by 2035 we will completely switch to electronic document system. This is a good vector that shows in which direction you need to develop. Now many companies are moving in this direction. This can be seen by the popularity of IT-projects and the demand for specialists in this field. This is a key trend that will give an advantage to companies like ours in the future. What it will be looking like is not clear yet. I would not want to see the presence of monopolists in this area. But ecosystems are already emerging that will consolidate warehouse services and develop faster than others.
On the other hand, if you look at the major players in this market, such as OZON or Sberbank, many of them get loss, because they invest money in IT-technologies for the future, just to take a market share. It is possible that something may come out from this later, but it will not be easy to achieve positive profitability in the presence of acute competition. The fundamental difference between STS Logistics is that we are not ready to work with loss and we see advantages in increasing the added value and quality of the services we provide. And digitalization in these matters is a key component of solving our tasks.
On May 29, you celebrated your birthday. We want to congratulate you! Tell us, what gift is still a dream for you?
I have a dream – to go hunting in Africa. Ideally, collect a grand slam-trophies from the Great 5 (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard). For various reasons I still haven't done this. I hope it will work out someday.
Do you have a life credo? Share it)
My life credo is written in one of my Facebook accounts: "Don't be afraid to grow slowly, be afraid to remain unchanged". It is important not to stand on the one place, but always keep developing, even with small steps. Of course I use this rule too and have great sympathy for others who share my views on this issue.
Business plans for the 2nd half of 2021?
I would be careful to speak about our plans during the intense competition with another companies. There are different projects in the works: some of them are already ready for start, others are under consideration. For example, this year we plan to significantly grow our multimodal business, expand our presence in the export sector, and completely switch to an updated ERP system in all operational areas of activity. As for the budget that STS Logistics has set for 2021 – I am sure that we will be able to achieve all the planned indicators, as we usually do.