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Good people, good work

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Freightplus was established at Taren Point, Sydney, in January 2000. In the years since, they have developed into an international team of hard-working and like-minded professionals with a diverse range of skills and expertise. They also have a shared vision – to be the market leaders when it comes to moving heavy machinery.

CEO John Gleeson and his partner Steve Townsend have built Freightplus from the ground up. Both come from backgrounds in the freight industry, with Gleeson having risen through the ranks of Meadows Freight in New Zealand, and Townsend having built a career with Meadow’s Australian agent. The two of them had a global vision their companies didn’t share, however, and towards the end of 1999 they met for a chat over coffee to discuss it.

“One thing led to another and Freightplus was born,” Gleeson recalls.

“For me, it was a dream come true,” he says. “Coming from a sales background, I was in the enviable position of being able to mould the product and service I was selling to exactly what my customers wanted.”

Together, Gleeson and Townsend built Freightplus up from nothing. At the beginning, Gleeson recalls that their office was so small it couldn’t even accommodate two standard desks – “so we hand-made our desks,” he says.

Growth came fast, however. In 2001, the company grew to hire their first employee and moved to a larger office and warehouse complex. The year after, their operations had grown to three warehouses and an office crew of five.  They also recruited Dean Sterling, whom Gleeson worked with at Meadows Freight. Gleeson and Sterling moved to Brisbane to establish a new office, where Dean now serves as General Manager and as a company Director.

Also in 2002, the team at Freighplus recognised the excessive costs and technical challenges associated with the importation of used mining and construction machinery into Australia. In response, they opened their first off-shore ‘Quarantine Compliance Inspection Base’ at Kobe, Japan.

“Our first off-shore compliance assessor was Rod Mackay,” Gleeson says. “He’s still with the company, as our Brisbane-based Customer Technical Support Manager.”

During his tenure in Japan, Rod was integrally involved in establishing Freightplus Japan’s freight forwarding business and expanding the company’s presence to Yokohama and Osaka – which is now the home base for Freightplus (Japan) KG.

As the years have gone, Freightplus’ global expansion has continued. In 2006, they established an offshore Quarantine Compliance Inspection Base in Amsterdam. In 2007, they established Freightplus (USA) Inc, and Townsend personally moved to the States to open their Atlanta office. In 2009, they established Freightplus (Europe) GmbH, in Bremen, Germany.

Domestically, Freightplus has also continued to thrive. In 2011, the company opened in Fremantle in response to a growing demand for services in Western Australia. The company’s North American road transport brokerage firm, Freightplus (Trucking) USA, opened the same year. It was followed by their Savannah office in 2012.

Freightplus (Chile) SA is the company’s newest office, having opened in early 2013.

While the company has grown tremendously in size and geographical spread, Gleeson says in many ways it has also stayed the same.

“Most of the people we’ve employed over the years are still with us,” he explains. “We’re just bigger.  That has its advantages – such as economies of scale – but I like the fact we’re still a very close-knit crew of like-minded professionals, doing what we love doing and doing it in an honest and ethical way.”

Up to date

Today, Freightplus is a market leader in their niche. There are a plethora of reasons that’s the case.  Chief among those reasons is the company’s size, and the sheer scope of their capabilities that goes with it.

“We can competently cover the movement of any piece of machinery between any two points on the map,” Gleeson says. “We have successfully moved in excess of 15,000 over-dimensional machines, between and across every continent. We have an extensive network of longstanding international connections and friends in every corner of the world.”

“We cover Alaska to Algeria, Kazakhstan to Kalgoorlie, Durban to Dammam, Tasmania to Turkmenistan,” he adds. “Freightplus really does have a truly global reach with a proven track record.

Freightplus is also dedicated to keeping pace with advancements in technology, which is another factor that sets them apart. They recognise that the era of fax machines is over, and the industry has moved to become more internet-based and customers have learned to rely on fully-integrated “carry-around communication centres” – like smart phones and tablets.

Next month, Freightplus will be launching its own mobile app for Android and iPhone, with three primary and interactive functions – getting a quote, tracking a shipment, and contacting an open Freightplus office.

To get a quote on the app, users will simply select the make, model and configuration of any used machine from drop-down menus. From there, they just have to pick a load port and arrival port to instantly receive pricing on their mobile device. The app quickly downloads the company’s entire database, and updates itself regularly when in wi-fi range.

As for its tracking feature, the app will give users live updates any time their shipment’s delivery status changes. These tracking updates are fed into the app automatically whenever it’s online, and stored in the app for the user to assess at his convenience. Like the quoting feature, it will not force users to rely on internet access.

Finally, when it comes to contacting Freightplus, the app will list the offices closest to the user’s current location. The app will show the time at each office, and enable contact by email or telephone – all at the touch of a button.

In conjunction with the development of this mobile app, Freightplus is also overhauling their technical database – which contains more than 4,000 different machine makes and models. Gleeson says this combined project has been in development for over a year, and the total investment will exceed $150,000.

He says that’s a testament to the importance they place on reinvesting in the business. In general, he says that kind of investment is essential to the growth and sustainability of the business – which is why they reinvest a minimum of 40 per cent of their profits.

Another 40 per cent of the company’s, Gleeson adds, are distributed as shareholder dividends.

A further 10 per cent, he continues, is distributed amongst local community groups and charities – an initiative that “just feels right.”

The final 10 per cent of profits are shared amongst the crew – who deserve it, Gleeson says, because they are among the best in the business. They include a combination of seasoned, experienced freight forwarders and trainees undergoing structured internal and external programmes. All of them are essential to delivering a quality service to the clients, Gleeson explains, and they consistently offer valuable thoughts, opinions and ideas that help the company improve.

They are also largely longstanding, he reiterates, saying Freightplus has an “enviable track record when it comes to crew retention.”

“We’ve been in business nearly 14 years,” he says. “In that time, you can count the resignations we’ve had on one hand.”

He credits that considerable employee loyalty to “nothing particularly clever.”

“We just employ good people, give them work that is challenging and rewarding, and genuinely care about them,” he says.

Freightplus fosters similarly strong and loyal relationships with their key suppliers – the majority of whom have also been with them since day one.

Genuinely caring

Freightplus has an exceptional track record for delivering in full, on time and within budget. Gleeson credits that fact to the company’s adherence to their core values, which everyone at the business “genuinely believes in.”  Those values are many, but generally involve caring about people – about their customers, about their staff and their family, their local community, and their organisation itself.

In keeping with their values, Freighplus is also committed to conducting business in an honest and ethical manner, sincerely listening to customers, and making changes to improve their business where possible. Internally, their values also call for respecting their team’s diversity, skills and ideas.

“We employ great people and provide the resources to make them even greater,” Gleeson says, reciting one of the lines in their values statement.

Most importantly, however, Freightplus’ core values call for a continuous pursuit of excellence. They say they will not accept limitations or boundaries set by others to hinder that pursuit.

“We dare to create our own standards and opportunities,” Gleeson says.

As a result of those values – and the high level of service those values ensure – Freightplus has been able to build their business primarily with repeat work and word of mouth.

“Whilst it might sound clichéd, we establish and develop long-term personal relationships with our customers,” Gleeson says. “Those relationships built on mutual respect and trust.”

Growing respectfully

Moving forward, Gleeson says the vision for Freightplus is a continuation of what they have achieved so far.

“That means identifying additional opportunities in existing markets, and recognising potential new opportunities in emerging markets,” he says.

It also means continued expansion, he adds – but in a managed and precise way. They want the company to grow without compromising on the quality service and personal culture that has made Freightplus what it is. At the same time, they want to be adaptive and reactive to local needs.

“In the past, we have been successful putting existing Freightplus crew into new offices and then adding local management and crew,” Gleeson explains. “This brings the Freightplus culture into each new office and puts a trusted employee at the helm – whilst incorporating local knowledge and respect for the local culture, language and business methods.”

Gleeson sees Freightplus continuing to operate and grow with that level of respect well into the future.

For more information, please visit their website at:  Freightplus

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