Martin Svantesson is the new Chief Commercial Officer at Greencarrier Freight Services who doesn’t mind standing in the back when things go really well, but is not afraid to step forward and take responsibility when things go wrong. With 24 years of experience working with sales and marketing in the transport and logistics industry, he is bringing his knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit into the Greencarrier team.
Hi, Martin! Tell me about yourself and your previous working experience?
I am 48 years old, born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden, and have always enjoyed working with marketing and sales. I was introduced to the transport and logistics industry in 1993 when I started working as a salesperson at United Parcel Service (UPS). A few years later, I went to TNT, also to work with sales, but this time, focusing on industrial companies on the Nordic market. After that, I specialised on short sea shipping at Stena Line, until I started working at former Danzas Eurocargo, today known as DHL, where I was responsible for the automotive segment on the Nordic market. After four years at Danzas, I moved on to former Wilson, today known as GEODIS, where I stayed for twelve years.
During my time at GEODIS, I was the Director of Vertical Markets and Global Industry Director of the Pharmaceutical & Healthcare segment. I was also part of the Global Sales Management Board. I came to spearhead all of GEODIS’ vertical markets such as the Automotive, Fashion & Lifestyle, and Aviation market, and had a dual role as Director of the Pharmaceutical & Healthcare segment. I played part in developing supply chain solutions for all the segments while also being responsible for global customers such as AstraZeneca and Sandvik.
How come you started working at Greencarrier Freight Services?
After twelve years at GEODIS, I felt it was time to move on and face new exciting challenges. I had followed Greencarrier for a while, and I was very intrigued by the strong leadership, the local connection to Gothenburg, and the brand presence, which had grown strong over the years on the Nordic market. Later, when I was involved in the recruitment process, I acknowledged a unique team spirit that immediately appealed to me.
Describe your role as Chief Commercial Officer? What does it involve?
My role as Chief Commercial Officer at Greencarrier Freight Services involves ultimate responsibility for all sales activities in the organisation as well as gross profit. One important part of my job is also to maintain strong customer relations and develop our transport and logistics solutions together with our customers based on their needs. It involves developing value-added services and communicate that we can, not only, transport goods from point A to point B, but more importantly, how we do it – in a sustainable, responsible, efficient way – and what the advantages are for our customers – short lead-times, cost-efficiency, high reliability. That we don’t sell products but provide solutions. There is a significant difference!
What is the difference between selling products and providing solutions?
For example, if a customer needs to transport goods from China to the Nordic countries, we can offer them a wide range of solutions to choose from depending on their needs. If the customer is looking for flexible and reliable transportation, we can offer a rail freight solution that takes 21 days door-to-door. If the customer is looking for a cost-efficient and eco-friendly alternative, we can offer an ocean freight solution and deliver the goods within 35 to 40 days. Or if speed is the most important factor, we can offer an air freight solution and have the goods delivered within 48 hours. So basically, we can offer a comprehensive transport solution based entirely on the customer’s needs.
I do see the difference. So, which challenge is the greatest in your job?
Having sales as my main focus and responsibility, I am often involved in different projects across the organisation. There are so many talented people with great ideas on how to develop sales activities in these different projects, and one of the greatest challenges for me is to distribute my time in a fair and efficient way. I have my own weekly agenda that involves thing like strategies and presentations, and suddenly there is a brilliant idea coming from an employee in England on how to develop our warehousing solution over there. The next minute there is another smart idea coming from another employee, this time in Poland, on how to develop our road network. Basically, it is a great challenge for me to absorb all of these great ideas, and at the same time, put my time and effort into my ordinary sales activities.
You have worked in the transport and logistics industry for 24 years. What is the most important thing you have learned along the way?
For the past twelve years of working in the global market, I have had few restraints and a lot of freedom, many times starting off with a clean slate. The entrepreneurial part of my job has played an important part. I have learned that you cannot pull a string without having the other end moving. This has become a great strength; being able to convert my strategic knowledge on a greenfield level, where there is an allowance for entrepreneurship, and turn it into practice. It may sound cliché, but in a job like mine, it is all about learning by doing. Att the same time, the devil is in the details.
Also, travelling every week for twelve years has taught me a lot about different countries, cultures and people. I have learnt the importance of being humble, having an open mind and wanting to learn from other people. To me, it is very important to be unpretentious, which is something I truly find at Greencarrier Freight Services. I have also learned not to be afraid of making mistakes, but instead dare to take risks, face new challenges, and believe in my own ideas. As a result, I have become a person that, when everything goes really well, I don’t mind standing in the back. But when things go wrong, however, I am not afraid to step forward and take responsibility.
That sounds like a valuable asset to have. Moving on to the transport and logistics market – what do the needs look like today?
Looking at the market today, there is an increased need for smart and reliable transport solutions on the eastbound and westbound trade lanes between the Nordic and Baltic countries and Eastern Europe, and Central Asia and China. It sort of takes us back to Genghis Khan and the Silk Road between east with west! At the same time, the demand on shorter lead times and time to market is increasing. Customers don’t have the time to wait for their goods and expect deliveries within given time frames. There is also a clear trend of companies moving their production closer to their home market. We can see that it is becoming more important to be in control of your own production.
Traditionally, due to low labour costs, many companies moved their production to China, which has been the world’s largest exporting country for many years. Later on, the companies moved their production to the eastern countries, such as the Czech Republic and the Baltic region instead. The trend after that has been to move the production to emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, and Brazil. When the production is moving around like this, naturally, there are going to be consequences for the transport and logistics industry. Being one of the players, we need to make sure to offer our solutions and services where the producing companies operate.
Another increasing demand on the market today, especially in the Nordic countries, is that many customers are looking for simplicity. They want to be able to hand over the responsibility of transporting their goods all the way to the end destination to their freight forwarder without having to worry about anything – it should be simple. They want a freight forwarder that has the capacity to provide a complete solution that includes ocean freight, air freight, rail freight, and road freight as well as warehousing, customs service, cargo insurance, and port logistics. A partner who can simply take care of the entire logistics flow.
How should Greencarrier Freight Services navigate in the future to meet the needs and expectation from customers?
One of our top priorities is to be driven by customer demand. We should alway listen carefully to what our customers have to say, and develop our business based on what we hear – with a large serving of ambition and proactivity. We should provide transport solutions and added-value services that cover our customers’ entire supply chain need. To make this reality, we need to set up goals, work as a united organisation, and measure and evaluate the results. If we do this, we can keep our promise to the market and, even exceed our customers’ expectations.
Another important future aspect is sustainability, which is part of our main focus. This is not only important to us, but also to the entire transport and logistics industry. Our customers have a very high environmental awareness, and being able to provide environment-friendly transport solutions is more or less a market demand today. At Greencarrier Freight Services, we care for the environment across all levels of our organisation and work really hard to offer transport solutions that minimise CO2 emissions.
What are your thoughts on the transport industry and the future?
I believe that in the future, the ocean alliances will grow stronger. In the past few years, we have seen container lines struggling with large mortgages or even declaring bankruptcy. More container lines have invested in larger vessels, which has lead to an overcapacity on the market and lower freight rates. The freight rates will eventually rise, and in the long run, I think the market will become more stabilised, even though the prices for end customers will most likely become slightly higher. In general, I think there will be a continuous focus on sustainability and the environment regardless of transport mode.
Let us hope so! Enough job talk – what do you do outside of the office?
I like to keep active and work out. I enjoy playing golf, which I have done since I was a child. My family and I also like to travel. We go skiing in the wintertime and take our boat out in the summertime to enjoy the ocean. My children are at the ages of fourteen and seventeen, and during the weeks their schedules are packed with activities such as hockey training and homework. You would think the weekends would be quieter, but actually, there is always some sort of activity going together with friends and family!
Thank you so much, Martin, for a lovely chat. And good luck with everything – sales activities as well as golf!
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