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ANALYSIS | NETWORKS


“Te pie would be split fewer ways.” Networks, he added, are like ‘fertiliser for businesses’. Training has become a big focus for some


networks, which are keen to play a role in encouraging youngsters into the industry and to see that their work is based on a healthy mix of practical and theory. And there are myriad ways in which the networks


have been attempting to differentiate themselves, from Atlas Breakbulk Alliance’s exclusive Bill of Lading and global tariff agreement with ECU Line, to PCN’s staff exchange programme, and including a wide range of technical support, financial guarantees, insurance deals and marketing services offered by other networks. Cearley stressed the importance of


trust and respect as a key way to differentiate XLP in the market. “We give it to our membership and they in turn return it to us. We are at a very good place right now. We have so many good people we can build our network from inside out rather than outside in, like so many others. Our people know their markets. Our people are skilled in projects. But most of all our members get to know one another. We are a team.”


But on one point, there is a consensus – just joining a network isn’t going to bring the work flooding in. “Collecting all the ‘buddies’ to meet once a year is not what we consider a professional project forwarder network,” said Alexander Hellmers at Project Logistics Alliance (PLA). If there were to be no professionally run networks, the industry would revert to creating its own networks, said Hellmers. “Every company that is operating in the project cargo industry will have to some extent some sort of network – otherwise, they could not really conduct


any business. In reality, he said, the industry does not really care


how many networks there are but is more interested in how any one network is relevant to their company’s operations. “We think it’s fair to say that not every company fits every network, and vice versa.” Wolfgang Karau of the Worldwide Project


Consortium (WWPC) and Cargo Equipment Experts (CEE) networks, said that in light of increased levels of competition that have developed in the network sector, “only the ones with a high level of free services to their members and a dedicated management team will stay alive.” Karau (pictured left) suggested that


some networks are led by “opportunists who seek to gain an income from the membership fee, but know little about the market they are in or do not care


much about serving their members. A successful network is more than a workable website and once a year a conference for the members.”


A good reputation is earned, not given. Karau pointed out that both WWPC and CEE are TRACE certified, the former also being a member of the Baltic Exchange for many years. “A reputation of first class people is hard to build and takes many years of dedicated hard work. In addition, the quality of a network’s member companies and a low churn of members is a key to our success.” And what comes next? Humphrey said: “I think


we will continue to see new networks surface and it will be interesting to see what fresh ideas they can bring. Some will succeed, some will fail, but I believe that one thing remains constant – members need to see the trust that makes membership worthwhile, whether it is through value-added services or an increase in business for them to remain in an organisation.”


HLPFI10 | 51


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