United Bulk’s premium Dangerous Goods tanker transport
services have grown over the last two years, despite the recession.
United Bulk’s premium Dangerous Goods tanker transport services have grown over the last two years, despite the recession.FleetWatch’s Paul Collings asks United Bulk’s CEO, Patrick Pols, to share a few insights into the issues underscoring the DG arena right now.
FleetWatch: Is the DG transport arena plagued by rate wars much like other sectors of the road freight industry?
Patrick Pols: Yes, but that is directly linked to the level and quality of service as well as emergency response. Our bigger problem is with the indices in the market place. Most transporters are bound, for annual increase purposes, to SIEFSA Table L2 but we find this as unreliable as most other indices in the market place and we are permanently short changed. We need a transport-dedicated index without the fuel component.
FW: What is United Bulk’s policy with regards to charging its customers?
PP: We are focused on above average rates for an above average service. We are also very selective on who we carry for and have walked away from business before, including that with a major oil company. Some clients forget that we carry a huge portion of the responsibility in the cradle to grave chain, which comes at a cost.
FW: How is the DG 'rate war' affecting your operation right now?
PP: The clients who are serious about DG come back to us after a bad experience with the cheaper operators. In addition, there are also insufficient barriers to entry when it comes to DG and this is encouraged by a lack of strict policing.
FW: How is TETA’s log jam affecting your training process?
PP: We are not getting the discretionary grants to train drivers. This then also affects our BBBEE rating
FW: How does United Bulk go about training its drivers and assistants in the face of these DG ‘accreditation obstacles’?
PP: We have close and immediate access to accredited training institutions which we currently use for DG training. This therefore is not a problem for us.
FW: What advice/suggestions do you have for DG transporters in SA right now?
PP: Sustaining business is all about quality and attitude. We choose our suppliers according to these principles, looking for attention to detail, flexibility and innovative solutions to new challenges. We extend this ethos to our service to our customers. I believe an approach like this will help any enterprise grow. We’re now fully part of the global economy and if you want to play in the big league, you’d better cultivate a ‘big match’ temperament.
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