Business, Freight News, Logistics

DSV Canada on its own two feet

[ July 3, 2018   //   ]

Whereas DSV Canada was once merely an add-on to the North American network, the second-largest country in the world has re-intensified its focus on locally controlled freight, which now constitutes half of its total activities.

Until the acquisition of UTi, DSV Canada primarily served as a handling office for the overseas network. The appointment of Martin Roos as new managing director of the country’s operations 18 months ago has intensified local sales activities. Today, DSV Canada is the one signing the invoices just as frequently, which increases the control and spending power of the freight forwarders.

“Focusing on local sales is a trend we have pursued from day one,” says Martin Roos, Managing Director, Air & Sea, Canada. Martin took over the helm in Canada after having led DSV India, where keeping customers in the fold for more than just a single shipment was an art in itself. A competitor would always come along offering a lower price and then ‘goodbye, customer’.

For the same reason, India’s sales force was no fewer than 50-strong, because each individual order took lots of legwork. That is until Martin decided to upgrade their products and leave competitors in the dust: focusing on transport solutions where DSV truly excelled and offering these to customers rejuvenated the sales staff’s self-confidence and led to better sales meetings and results and customers who actually returned because they were pleased with the product.

This notably reduced operational faults and delays, and made for smoother customs clearance, etc. It paid off and built up loyalty among India’s logistics purchasers, and the same model has now been implemented in Canada.

“I have a saying,” Martin Roos explains: “‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. You can’t do everything equally well, particularly when it involves Air & Sea, where volumes and rates are crucial elements.”

Therefore, the Canadian organization started to identify the biggest lanes for all products: incoming/outgoing air, and incoming/outgoing sea from all the offices – in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Halifax (the Niagara Falls office serves solely as a customs clearance office for goods entering Canada) – and then identifying where sales reps’ pipelines matched. This resulted in sales reps focusing on the five biggest lanes for each product to determine where DSV Canada is truly competitive:

“Do you want to discuss imports from China? We know the product, and we consolidate and forward freight every week. The shipping companies and airlines are familiar with us, and everything runs like clockwork,” says Martin, who tells how renewed expertise and self-confidence make it far easier to sell the products.

At the same time, Martin has opened the doors to the rest of the network (China, Germany, Italy, etc.), which have paid visits to Canada and seen how strong the organization actually is:

“Most are quite surprised to see our size and enthusiasm, and this is what they take with them to their customers,” says Martin, who asks his colleagues directly how much they want to grow in Canada:

“If the entire network joins and plays along, we have undreamt-of growth potential in Canada. We have very stable growth and economy, a favorable and stable political climate, good infrastructure and excellent airports,” he says, and continues to mention the new CETA trade agreement, which exempts 98% of all exports from Europe to Canada from customs duties.

“We have a government that is actively working to increase trade with Europe, so there is lots of potential for growth with countries like the UK and Germany, not least because we haven’t developed sales so eagerly before,” he explains.

And Martin Roos from the Air & Sea division is not the only one putting DSV Canada on the agenda. Both the Road and Solutions divisions recently received new management, where Kyle Birchard is leading the Road activities and Rob Chanona heads up Solutions, whose six warehouses in Ontario command more than 100,000 m2, 14,000 m2 of which is climate-controlled storage space. Their customers are in the automotive, pharmaceutical, textile, retail and e-commerce industries, and the divisions work closely together.

“We have an excellent client base and, in 2018, we will get a reinforced sales organization to sell our products,” explains Rob Chanona, Managing Director, Solutions Canada. And he lauds the cooperation with his colleagues in the other divisions, which, in 2018, will result in a new common website designed to present DSV Canada to the rest of the world.

“We have a dynamic partnership where we are at eye-to-eye level and have a common understanding of how to achieve our goals and grow. We’re convinced that by working together we can achieve exponential growth, compared to working independently,” he says.

Kyle Birchard, Road division, is also a member of the trio. The division still has only 15 employees, who target key customers in need of shipment of small parcels, LTL, FTL and project freight: “We’ve cultivated a fertile basis for open, candid cooperation, and this relationship also affects our employees. We think of one another first when potential cooperation appears, and we can see how working across our organizations creates value for our customers,” he says.

DSV Canada’s employees reflect the culture of immigrants who have been influencing the USA’s northern neighbor for centuries. Large ethnic French, Italian, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, Indian and Pakistani populations dominate the street scene, and each group has infused Canadian culture with valuable experiences that they have implemented into their communities. Similar to what happens at the DSV offices:

“Having Joe with his Italian background is incredibly valuable for us, and we use him whenever we need to talk to an Italian customer. We have Tommy Liu who speaks fluent Mandarin and makes it much easier to land Chinese customers. We have Dalah Cherif, sitting in Vancouver, who can speak several languages (including Hausa, a west African language) and Mandarin; he can talk to the local decision-makers among Vancouver’s vast Chinese population. Not only do we benefit from their variety of experiences, it’s much easier to speak to customers if we can do it in their own language,” Martin Roos says.

Until the three divisions are united at one new shared office and freight terminal in 2019, the Toronto terminal will be forwarding freight from the large Ontario area, but also from cities like Detroit in northern USA, which see the advantage of using Toronto Pearson International Airport. From here, the capacity is notably good, and DSV excels in “shrinking volume” by combining types of freight and consolidating heavy and light cargo in one and the same shipment. At the same time, DSV has its own scanners for screening freight, enhancing flexibility and extending cut-off:

“Our freight can be transported directly on board the plane, because we are certified to screen freight ourselves. This is cheaper for the customer, but above all we shorten the consolidation and check-in processes by many hours. Instead of having to receive the freight at 8 am, we can wait until 5 pm and still make the flight at 10.30 pm,” explains Martin Roos.