We caught up with Marta Słodnik, CEO of Pall-Ex in Poland to discuss how the network has developed over the last few months and what developments are being made for the rest of 2018 and beyond.
How has the network settled during its first six months?
The network has established itself very well, and the members embraced the hub-and-spoke model very early on.
Following our go-live in October 2017, we have continued to embed network procedures and IT best practice into our membership. We are now entering the early stages of commercial development, where member’s new customers are being invited to try our network and see the benefits our model can bring to their business.
Our member pipeline remains strong, and one of our goals is to support our current members as well as adding further reputable hauliers to improve balance. Pall-Ex is known and respected throughout the domestic marketplace and is currently seeing an increase in pallets coming through the hub as customers seek out our solutions and support. We are on the right track to reach and surpass our first-year goals.
Over the next year, we will start to grow our corporate volumes through central and regional sales support activities, as well as continuing our drive to be the quality network of choice. Our initial growth is a clear signal from the market that a model like Pall-Ex was needed to support businesses throughout Poland.
In short, we are diligently supporting our members with numerous activities, ranging from; training, customer visits, marketing tips and even recruitment advice. The key to any networks success is its membership, and ours continues to go from strength to strength. We look forward to seeing how Pall-Ex progresses within Poland over the months and years to come.
How is business developing?
On our first night, we handled a humble 81 pallets through our central Hub in Skierniewice. Today, our average volume is circa 650 pallets daily which gives us an average growth of around 25% month-by-month.
This a very positive trend considering that currently only 4% of our network volume comes from our corporate customer base. Today we have over 500 active member customers who ship an average of 1.55 pallets per consignment.
We handle freight for a range of industries; from furniture, through to home appliances and FMCG. We also provide an ADR (dangerous goods) transport and pallet exchange service.
What has been the network’s greatest achievement so far?
I’m proud of the central Pall-Ex team, especially the Operations and Network departments who have developed the Pall-Ex you see in Poland today. However, the membership is the backbone of our network, and so I have to include our founder and early adopting Polish members who embraced the model and our business ethos.
The determination of both the Pall-Ex central team and the members to succeed and develop the business is our most significant achievement to date.
All our members are working hard to educate existing customers and win new ones. They are all keen to expand their business and develop this new service/offer to the market. Our members embrace our quality ethos, and we regularly sit with them to discuss possible improvements. Their commitment to Pall-Ex is excellent to see, they care and want to contribute to the success of their network.
What have the main challenges been?
We launched a new domestic network in a relatively mature and intensely competitive market. I’m always reminded of the comments shared during one of our initial meetings when we were first looking to partner with Pall-Ex Group; “The network is only as strong as its weakest link”.
The quote always stayed with me, as it sums up the hub-and-spoke model so well, considering the diversity of hauliers working together as one network. Our primary challenge so far has been similar to all new networks at the start; these gravitate around building trust and confidence in each other.
You have to have a willingness to help and support businesses that you have just met, build relationships, trust and communication channels. What makes it easier is that we all believe in the model and we recruit members who share the same high standards, quality ethos and desire for business growth.
We firmly believe that with the best members, we can grow and develop the network to become the leading palletised freight distribution network in Poland. What have you enjoyed the most?
I have been working on the Pall-Ex expansion into Poland since 2015, and it has been fantastic to see the evolution of the network from initial discussions, to member recruitment, go-live and the development since. Months of preparations, training sessions and discussions came finally into life on that first night in October 2017.
We have come a long way since those initial talks. We’ve had some obstacles along the way but seeing the first manifested pallet in TWINE made me feel very proud. I feel very privileged to be a part of this innovative project within the Polish market.
How many members do you have now?
We launched with 25 member depots, providing 100% coverage in Poland from the first night. Today, this number has grown to 27, and a few more member hauliers are lined up to join the network throughout 2018.
Which hauliers playing a leading role in the network?
All of our 29 depots play an essential role in the network; like all networks, we have our net-inputters and net-deliverers; and each member has their own strengths and areas to improve.
We have a diverse and robust network all of whom know their region and geographical challenges. They are all contributing to our goal of becoming the No.1 pallet network in Poland.
Is cross-border activity a large part of the network’s current activity?
All of our members are eager to start sending their consignments abroad and expand their service portfolio.
Our job, as Pall-Ex is to support them in their education of the services, training, IT, sales and marketing. We will shortly be embedding Nexus into our network and finalising our middle-mile solution to start full international operations by the end of 2018.
We are still a young network, and we want to build our international traffic off the back of our strong domestic operations - we will soon be in a position to take full advantage of our Pan-European solution.
What will be your main focus for the next 12 months?
Our primary focus for the next 12 months and beyond is to continue to develop the network; both by supporting current members as well as adding additional members in specific locations throughout the country.
Another focus will be to balance regional members as well as improving delivery density. Poland is a key International lane for import and export, and we are looking forward to growing the International arm of our business.
For more information on joining the Pall-Ex network, visit www.pallex.pl