The manager of Siko Trans, Kolyo Doynov, gave an interview for Logistika magazine. He speaks about the company – its past, present and future, and how the business can be supported in its development.
We publish the text to the interview.
Kolyo Doynov was born on 13 May 1973 in Sofia. He loves his job, sports (mostly the kite surf) and the morning coffee. He tries to spare more time for his children and wife because to him, these are moments of mutual enrichment. He does not like lies and unqualified people suffering an illusionary superiority. The manager of Siko Trans is a member of FIATA, KRIB, NABC and NSBS, whereat, on the last General Assembly, he was elected in the Control council.
He speaks plain and often jokes. He subjugates his business to a „well structured logic” and he does not hide his ambitions for Siko Trans to become a part of the network of a big European or international logistic operator. He deems that this is the future of the company, which started as a carrier, and today its main business activity is forwarding-logistic one. To him, the control is a must for every activity and the intuitive management must go away along with the infant age of a company. He is Kolyo Doynov, the manager of Siko Trans.
- Mr. Doynov, we knew Siko Trans as a transport company, now we are talking about its forwarding-logistic activity. When did you step into the transport business?
- The year was 2003rd. I remember the first truck – a new Volvo which took its way on 1 May 2003. When we started this business, we had no clear idea of the results and problems. It occurred that our idea was really correct and good. At that time, there were already companies with history, others had had bankruptcy; third ones had their drivers as a hindrance to work well, fourth – the regulatory regimens. Many colleagues advised me not to do this business but I had the internal confidence that I had taken the right way and proceeded. I was nicely surprised by the results as early as in the first year – they were even better than I had expected and moved somewhere between the pessimistic and optimistic variant. The company progressed little by little and from clearly truck one (we operated board trucks) it proceeded to a more specialized activity – refrigerated carriages. It occurred that these are very interesting business and when you go above the average level of professionalism, i.e. give a higher quality, the results are awesome. And they are definitely better than the ones of the board trucks. In 2012, when I was on a big crossroad of my business and I had to take a decision for the way to develop the enterprise, I decided to give up the transport and develop the forwarding-logistic activity.
- My idea was dictated by the statistics. I found that 80% of my time is spent in solving problems with the trucks, and the turnover of my enterprise was in other ratio – 80% forwarding and 20% trucks. That is, the transport, as a more complex matter, took 80% of my time and generated 20% of the incomes. And I decided that this was too unfair. I had to either increase the fleet or to give up the transport activities. I was just considering buying 50 new vehicles to start growing on a fast pace and the solution came to direct to forwarding and logistic. I do not regret it because this job gratifies me. And I do not deny that we miss this support of an own vehicle park and it is not a far moment when we are making transport again. Here it is – it stands up to date and kept. There are some steps in the company structuring that I would like to fulfill and then I will take a new decision.
- What do you change?
- Not just the activity but also the management. Somewhere between the years 2010 and 2012, the company turned from an intuitively managed enterprise in a machine. However the restructuring process has not yet been completed.
- Did your practice turn you into a machine?
- We were changed by the understanding that we need to restructure on a way, subjugated to rules, processes and procedures. The „I thought so, I intended” model no longer works. The intuitive model of management of an enterprise dooms it not to grow. The only way it can grow and develop is if the management is subordinated to processes and procedures.
- Did you pass the ISO procedures?
- Oh, long ago! The most difficult part is to follow and develop them. Because most of the enterprises are ISO certified to enable their managers to wave a paper to their clients. Whereas our idea was to have it as a fundament whose provisions to be followed and developed. There is no month without innovations we make. When a wrong action or solution occurs, we do not call the person to hammer him and then forget about the critical situation. We search for no guilt but omission of us, managers to provide as a rule. We say to ourselves – our co-worker acted like that because there was no other rule. And we create it, because we really operate as per Our striving is to subjugate our activity to an order and to be regulated machine and not an emotional family company.
- Does the forwarding really need to be supported by warehouse operations to meet the requirements of the client?
- In 2012, we took a decision and in 2013 we sold the trucks. From 1 January 2013, Siko Trans has no carriage with their own trucks everything is done y partners. In fact the client needs took us in another direction – load and unload operations, warehousing, logistic services. Who wants today to return clients! When the client says – give me this goods to warehouse it and resell it, can you refuse? On the other hand, the need of every shipping agent to consolidate goods is inevitable. When, for instance you collect goods from an x number of places for Germany, you need to merge them as a freight somewhere. And we hired a warehouse in Sofia – 1000 m and 3 platforms, which no longer suffice us because we have a large flow of goods and we need to handle many trucks.
- If you decide to expand, will you hire more areas or will you build?
- We will build.
- Why do you prefer Europe as a market?
- It looks like this market saved us in the crisis We listened then to the voice of drivers who were most interested to drive to Europe, because the regulation helped them to feel better. Turkey and Russia were not interesting to them. The drivers are people who like things being predictable and easy. And the border with Turkey always provides situations that slow the courses down; therefore our drivers do not like to travel there. And ultimately, for Siko Trans, Europe turned out to be the best regulated and best operating market we managed to create new contacts and clients on.
- But competition is Europe is big?
- This is the interesting part. My mission is to offer a more intelligent and quality service, because I cannot be any faster than the mates, cheaper than the mates, and I do not want to be. Therefore I bet on quality.
- How do you achieve it?
- In transportation, there are always gaps, delays, turned truck, sick driver, closed warehouse, road under reconstruction, wrong address… the quality of carrier, of shipping agent, of the logistic is appreciated when „the car turns”, i.e. in a critical situation. When a load moves flawlessly from point А to point B and reaches on time, everything is ОК! When the price is plus-minus 10 euro, it is of no importance as well. However in tough situations, you can appreciate the quality of work and problem solving skills. Unfortunately, many colleagues hide information in the event of a problem, do not take the calls, do not answer their e-mails or plainly lie about what happened. I believe that when there is an emergent situation, the communication is the first thing that can lead to its proper solution. I say that from the position of a suffered person. The truck turned and they did not tell me. Then deal with all the consequences. This approach and understanding to hide things during transportation is very harmful. There just needs to be sincerity and good communication. We, at Siko Trans, believe that when a case or a situation occurs, is when we are appreciated. And the client then decides whether he is coming back to us. When he is pleased, he says: ОК, I will come back because they act in a professional and adequate manner here and I feel secure in their hands.
- What is your most active destination?
- Germany is our most popular destination, also Benelux and France. To my big regret, Spain and Portugal do not take the share of our activity that we would like them to. We had a higher share of these two countries before, but, very regrettably, not only to me but also to other colleagues of the branch, we have been pushed away from this market. Whether it is temporarily or permanently – we will see. The volumes we realized in these two countries, dropped almost with 50%. I speak about statistics for 2014 against 2013. This year we could keep the level of 2014 which is a good news. As a whole, in 2015, there is a 40% growth of the turnovers of Siko Trans against 2013, which is awesome news.
- What freights are most popular?
- I would say that generally, we observe something interesting – construction is awakening. We carry more construction materials and more production machinery, which pleases me.
- This growth however is not related to the economy enlivening in Bulgaria, is it?
- No way. Unfortunately, the economy in Bulgaria has no growth. On the contrary, in the context of the overall growth in Europe, to me, what is happening here, is a return back. And the reasons are in the lack of support to the branch on behalf of the state and this is the most essential thing and would be good to have it an accent of our conversation. You know our situation since the beginning of the year, when Germany adopted an hourly pay rate to the drivers. It is a fact that one more European country adopted a Law for minimal working salary – Norway, at 19 Euro per hour, and there is no such salary in Europe. What happened? First they told us – come to Europe, and now they are slightly and gradually starting to chase us away. The French are observing things developing in Germany and Norway and are preparing to introduce their own protections. And our state does not work.
- What do you think it must be done?
- The problems can be divided to typical, new and future ones. Obviously the policy of restrictions becomes heavier and we can expect that the desire of the stronger states in Europe to push us away will increase and will not decrease. It is a matter of policy of our state that this does not happen and I think the institutions owe this support to the branch because it has one of the main merits for the providing for this state, generating a significant share of its GDP. Look what happened – all heads of state and prime ministers of the states of whole Europe took turns to the European commission to declare their statement regarding the minimal wage in Germany. They did this under the pressure of their branch organizations in their attempt to protect the interest of their members. In Bulgaria, we need first of all lobby and via unity of the branch organizations in transport and logistics, to protect our interests.
- How would you assess the HR market for your branch?
- As very challenging! It has been years since we have been trying to attract staff from other companies and it all ended up with failure. For years, we have convinced ourselves that the most appropriate way is to develop our own professionals. What do we do? We take people with potential from the student desk or with few years of length of service, however without having been shipping agents and we teach them. To my pleasure, these young people are motivated, the level of their English language is very good and they generally want to absorb knowledge. I am pleasantly surprised and I must say that it is not bad at all if our branch is entered by young and motivated people and it is a very good solution to create the professionals. And if they do not like being with us, they can go to the colleagues. I make a lot of efforts people working in Siko Trans to be pleased, motivated and committed. I welcome the idea of the NSBS that the profession of a shipping agent is formulated in the national classificatory to enable the liaison with the universities. Now we recruit people under the title of a transport organizer or under other title. The idea of the NSBS is to create an opportunity for the operating business to take part in the professionals preparation. The kids coming to us have studied something about logistics and transportation, they know important stuffs, but the accent and essence of our job has not been focused in their education. It is a very good idea to introduce dual education here as in Germany. I think this would be useful both for the young ones and the business.
- How did you study shipping? Practice?
- I graduated the Sofia mathematical high school, I studied „Accounting and control” at the UNWE. But I have always wanted to take my own, other than the common route, therefore I tried various ways. Everything I do now might have been somewhere here, in the pit of my stomach, but it took me no less than forty years until I clearly structured and defined it. And it is good for a young person to have my current knowledge at the age of 25. I think my mathematical education helps me a lot because everything in the business is a well structured logic and if we subjugate all processes and procedures to that simple logic, things would go marvelous.