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ANALYSIS | NETWORKS


“No one wants to work with someone on a project worth millions of dollars without knowing their partner at the opposite end of the world.”


Luzius Haffter, GPLN


an organisation and attending its annual gatherings is vital to project forwarders.” Networks create a culture of healthy competition within the industry ‘and should bring out the best in all of us’, said Humphrey. Gary Dale Cearley (pictured below), executive director of XLProjects (XLP), said: “I'd be careful not to confuse a tool with the task. I am a big-time adopter of much of this tech. I use WhatsApp and LinkedIn all the time. But the truth is this: face-to-face is irreplaceable. “Te tools can foster the


relationships but they aren't the relationship itself. I think its effect is overall neutral. Tere is less reason to


discuss petty topics when you meet now. You can use the apps for updates but how well do you know a person who you only communicate with on Skype?” Te other factor, as emphasised by Luzius Haffter,


executive director of Global Project Logistics Network (GPLN), has been the drive by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to compete with the multinationals. Te growth in networks has been positive for the industry,


he said. “Te market would be very fragmented and SMEs would have a much tougher time [without networks]. No one wants to work with someone on a project worth millions of dollars without knowing their partner at the opposite end of the world.”


Growing competition Te growth in competition amongst networks over the last decade is healthy, he said, “but we only see a couple of other networks as healthy networks. Te rest seem to run on the basis of ‘as big as possible’. It has already been shown that very large project networks are not popular among the serious project players in the market, he claimed. “It doesn’t pay to mix professionals with non-professionals. Every specialised network should realise that.” Viktor Fuchs, chief operating officer at Project Partners


48 | HLPFI10


said: “For sure, networks have made the day-to-day business much easier for small and midsized forwarders from all over the world. It’s the key element for securing business in areas where one wouldn’t have had an agent before; in addition, a network offers a great opportunity to meet agents from all over the world in only one place during the AGMs. “I guess the rising number of networks is good on the one


hand, as it brings a bigger variety of services into our industry. A negative side-effect, though, is that it’s difficult for a forwarder to pick ‘the right one’ for itself.” Bruce Cutillo, general manager, projects & dangerous


goods networks at WCA, had another take on the increasing numbers of networks. “More forwarders/people who have seen other successful networks have decided to start one up themselves, as it is easier than doing real forwarding,” he said. “I mean, if they can compete for and organise complicated


projects with high risks, handling a network should be easy, right? Fun as well, if done properly.” Te growth of networks has been positive in giving independent forwarders more exposure and opportunity for international cooperation, Cutillo said. “I have seen the very positive effects on some of our members who really use the network well. A negative – for forwarders – would be the resulting increasing competition in the projects industry, which is contributing to eroding profit margins in projects. It is positive for project owners, who will have a more visible number of forwarders to choose from and lowered costs due to the increased competition.” And what about a world without any networks at all? “A lot of SME forwarders would, without doubt, have less business and fewer opportunities for growth,” said Cutillo.


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