In her role as Sales Representative in the International Freight Forwarding department at Broekman Logistics, Kelly de Laat is responsible for new business development. For at least the past two years, she has found that a growing number of clients of all sizes are seeking out logistics partners that have expressed their commitment to people and the environment.
“We have expertise in a wide variety of areas, ranging from road and railway transport to air cargo and sea freight, which enables us to decide on the best transport solution for each customer. We can basically handle anything from chemicals to wind turbines, which makes us a logistics service provider that can deliver comprehensive services to customers worldwide. While that might seem very impressive, it really no longer cuts it in this day and age. It sounds great on paper, but all we’re essentially saying is that we can transport items from A to B very efficiently and with a certain amount of professional expertise. When you put it that way, all freight-forwarding companies instantly turn into competitors. The fact that we’ve been delivering on our promise for a long time and have an extensive network and are aware of all the applicable laws and regulations does give us a competitive edge we can further extend, but these days customers also expect us – as they should – to make our business operations more sustainable.”
‘Greener’ operations: necessary and possible
“The logistics industry may be routinely portrayed as highly polluting and environmentally unfriendly, but here at Broekman we have been exploring for many years how we can reduce our carbon footprint while maintaining – or possibly even improving – our performance. It forces us to think and be creative, and our organisation has indeed made a lot of progress over the past several years. Since it can sometimes be tricky to explain this to customers, I’m pleased with our first-ever Annual Sustainability Report, which I’ll be able to take with me when I visit clients so I can back everything I tell them up with hard data. We’re seeing major customers such as Siemens and Samsung include a section on Corporate Social Responsibility in their applications. Our position on Corporate Social Responsibility is a factor in their decision whether or not to do business with us, and I’m sure this will come to play an even more decisive role in the future.”
Finding environmentally friendly alternatives in logistics
Kelly makes a point of raising various issues with customers whenever she gets a chance, and also suggests more environmentally friendly alternatives. “If something needs to get there fast, there’s no point in sending a ship to the other side of the world, but if there are no time constraints there are all kinds of creative solutions. I also always make sure to check if freight can be loaded onto a barge or train instead of using lorries. Although barges also generate emissions, proportionately speaking they’re not as polluting as a column of lorries, so overall emissions are lower, and an added benefit is that it reduces congestion on the roads. While this is only part of the solution, it is also part of adopting a more environmentally approach, and if we all contribute in that way we can really make a difference. If the entire organisation can add more value to the logistics chain while at the same time reducing our carbon footprint, we know we’re on the right track.”
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