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Adaptability wins races

Rafael Llerena, CEO, Easyfresh, Global Reefer Logistics Suppliers, tells us why it's important to shake hands with business partners, and not just sign the dotted lines.

BY PAULA STEFAN @paulastefan_uk  via TransREporter

In just a decade, Easyfresh has emerged as one of the leaders of the logistics sector. Its founder, Rafael Llerena, a seasoned entrepreneur with 35 years of experience in shipping, spearheaded the company to turn it into a dedicated reefer logistics suppliers with a strong presence in Europe, the Adriatic and the Mediterranean. The unique business concept is gradually expanding in Asia, Africa and The Americas, serving top names in the industry, reputed shippers, receivers and retailers. Easyfresh has four reefer focused partners: TPG, Slovenia, Gulf Badr, Egypt, Frigobreda, The Netherlands and Easyfresh, Spain.

London born Rafael inherits the nuances from his family business operation in conventional reefer shipping, which is over a hundred-year-old. Right from the beginning of his career in shipping, he has believed in breaking set norms in the reefer logistics arena, keeping a strong focus on customer service. We caught up with him recently to know all about the projects that the company has taken up, the business philosophy that he follows and why he believes it's important to shake hands with partners.

What is the best advice you ever were given ?

"The best advice that I was ever given was about shaking hands and making a deal". Oftentimes, people think that the only way to make a deal is to sign a legal document - but, if people want to get out of the legal document, they're going to get out of it"."It sounds odd, but my father gave me that advice". He said, when you shake someone's hand, you have to honor the deal that you made and you have to do what you say you're going to do. If you made a bad deal, shame on you - but that's the deal you made, so you're done."Actually agreeing to something with somebody has to mean something, In our day-to-day business relationshios within Easyfresh, all of our deals are initially done with a handshake. Ultimately we do paperwork, but if you want to know what the movie's going to be like, watch the preview, and that's what the handshake looks like to me. This policy inspired our Easyfresh Code of Conduct. We have to be trustworthy in a world invaded by the IoT, blockchain, soical media, EDIs, etc ... It is in the essence of mankind.

Rafa, are you fearful of the risks inherent in pursuing new technologies in the reefer logistics industry?

"Let me put things in order. Innovation can be the company's most powerful tool and a key driver of value. Anyhow there are many too creative and edgy new ideas that will not succeed. Sometimes I prefer, indeed, to renovate rather than to innovate. Or simply wait for others taking the risks, observe and select those applicable and realistic options. These have to be valid, yes or yes, for our customers. If not, why to worry and enter a techno-driven nightmare or a crazy race to nowhere. We prioritize cold chain vs. "blockchain", meaning investing time in creative, workable solutions within the cold chain,  ultimately our task, vs fancy bla,bla. Or,in other words, as the wise man said : Let others invent ! We in Easyfresh we'll adjust to those innovations going forward, as long as those suitable for our clients."

It sounds radical. At least, your message is rather unsual amongst the drivers of the transport and shipping arena.

"We believe in what we do. We know we are one of the "change agents" within the temperature controlled cargo trades. As an ex basketballer I admired Michael Jordan and, of course, his well-known quote : Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships. This we apply it to our mission, which is to supply integrated logistics solutions for perishable cargo globally. We have strong faith in our unique business concept and put pasion in what we do. Therefore, after many changes and adjustments we count with the support of first class customers like Keelings, Bama, Auchan, amongst many others. We are extremely proud of it."

Containerisation and consolidation of the liner shipping industry has changed the way in which food moves between supply and consumption markets. How do you adapt to it ?

"Adaptability is the key to success. Our organization is structured in such way to constantly adapt to changes, as soon as posible. This is one of the greatest assets of Easyfresh vs many other slow reacting and heavy players. Specialization is another one. Our focus leads us to keep our eyes open and fully aware and updated of our business frame and its related circumstances. We have identified the changes in the cold chain all over and perceive same as a totally different challenge in each and every country or location. Anyhow, generally, and to answer your question, we see the carriers' consolidation as a clear opportunity for 3PLs. I'm not taking in consideration the lower reliability ratios of the shipping lines (as far as I remember the ratio is down to 66% according to Seaintel).  In fact, the bigger ships, the lesser ports of call, and, subsequently, less "fruit or food friendly" port operations are in the cold chain equation. Another relevant fact related to the containerisation is the trend to store less volumes at destination. Cargo goes directly to the retailers, or to its DC or a facility subcontracted by the supermarkets, maybe to repack, relabel or for order-picking or capilar distribution. Anyhow foodstuffs are not stored there for very long; it  simply goes quickly to the shop or to the consumer in case of on-line sales. We are facing an " F1 cold chain scenario". And we are happily driving a Mercedes, like Lewis Hamilton is doing".

What other changes you perceive in the way foodstuffs are distributed worldwide?

"Talking long-term, FAO predicts by 2030 global food production has to raise 70% . And this will create a number of uncertainties, but likewise a number of new opportunities for dedicated logistics players like Easyfresh. Do not forget facts like : The new production areas, new consumption areas, cultural differences, food safety, ugly fruit concept, trendy organics and bio products, aquaculture vs traditional fishing, pricing volatility of the agricultural goods, the crazy retail dynamics and the war within the supermarkets, etc, etc, etc... Besides it, there is a trend for lesser subsidies to agriculture, e.g. within the EU. This together with the  change in dietary styles, all over, the "Master Chef effect" with new trends and products all over. A real complex and challenging scenario, that only organizations with a high degree of specialization, focus and adaptability will be able to cope with . Opportunities don't make appointments, so we will be ready and, back to the F1, trying to bein the pole position, while these arrive."

I guess rumours are more exciting that truth, but what about those related to possible mergers, a sale or even buyouts ?

"No truth in it, at all. It is unavoidable to be approached by other entities, given the excellent developments, Easyfresh trade mark value, customer base, business concept and geographical expansion. It is rewarding to be asked, even by rivals, though I want to be very clear : Easyfresh pretends to remain independent. Some future strategic alliances may happen, e.g. with on-line retailers and other industry related players, as long as we hold the reins . Moreover we are in the process of incorporating a holding company Easyfresh Global Ltd, that will keep be an investment tool and an umbrella for the whole organization. Anyhow, we read the future by the past and we have learnt that there is nothing like a dream to create the future. And we keep on swinging and enjoying what we do !"

 

For more information :

TCG Media & TransREporter 

www.tcg.media / www.transreporter.com

and/or

Easyfresh

Anne Maurier : easyfresh.ho.marketing@easyfresh-logistics.com

Ph : + 34 96 3218021

Twitter @easyfreshglobal

Instagram Easyfreshglobal

Facebook : Easyfresh Logistics

Website : www.easyfresh-logistics.com

 

 


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