Providing during the pandemic

Providing during the pandemic

Were it not for essential service providers, South Africans would have starved during the lockdown. We pay tribute to Logico Logistics, which kept things rolling during the most stringent level of those trying times

Logico Logistics, a Road Transport Management System (RTMS)-accredited service provider in both the long-haul cross-border and secondary distribution transport environment, has certainly weathered a storm created by the lockdown when it was at its highest alert level. The company specialises in the transport of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG); the primary and secondary service-driven industry; and the industry manufacturing large-diameter abnormal length steel pipes.

When the lockdown was announced, the new MD, Clint Brook, faced a baptism of fire, as he joined the company only in February.

“I was approached to join the business by Logico Logistics’ CEO Bryan Cuff, who I’ve known from the industry for some time,” explains Brook. “He was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to buy into the business.”

Brook explains that it was a good opportunity. “The company is well-positioned with regard to its client base, and it is in a good space to grow at the moment – which is exciting.”

However, no one could have predicted the trying times that lay ahead. “That was a nasty surprise,” he emphasises. “No one would have opted to buy into a business one month before the country was hit by a pandemic. The lockdown obviously wasn’t planned, so it came as a shock, but we worked through it and managed to get out quite healthy, I believe.”

Brook adds that it took lots and lots of hard work and long hours. “Fortunately, the business is geared well, which certainly helped matters.”

To ensure that things ran as smoothly as possible, the company armed its drivers with the necessary documents. “We obtained our essential services certificate from the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) and gave each employee a letter stating that they were providing an essential service,” Brook explains. “Our clients also gave us a copy of their essential services certificates. We supplied our drivers with a file containing these documents, which they had with them at all times.”

He adds that an additional challenge was that the authorities added new requirements each week. There were also many other hurdles to overcome during lockdown level 5. Brook says that two of these were exceptionally challenging. “We do a lot of cross-border transport – to Botswana and Namibia in particular. Botswana decided to test all truck drivers at the border.”

Trucks were delayed at all border posts and Covid-19 lockdown checkpoints. “So, the loads went from two to three days to up to 10 days,” Brook explains. “This came at a significant cost to us that we had to bear to maintain our service loads with key clients.”

He adds: “The second most significant challenge was the police. They were very ill informed as to who should and shouldn’t be allowed to transport which goods. So, our drivers got caught in a number of roadblocks where they challenged our essential services documentation.”

Brook notes that there were a few instances where the police officials wanted to arrest Logico Logistics’ drivers. “According to them, our drivers didn’t have the ‘right piece of paper’. However, when challenged, they didn’t want to speak to us directly and didn’t want to provide their names. They were really just ‘bullying’ our drivers and hoping that they would get paid to let them go. We had a lot of tough situations and difficult conversations during that period,” he says.

Brook explains that the management team had to be on call and on high alert 24 hours a day. “This was because our trucks are always running. There were some late nights where everyone did their part – from operations right up to top management – to ensure that the goods got to where they needed to go.

“Basically, we just had to bite the bullet and push through, and it wasn’t easy.”

Logico Logistics took the bull by the horns and went on to ensure that goods made it to market during the trying times. “We absorbed all our trucks into our FMCG division. We swapped the trailers with taughtliners and managed to keep our fleet going throughout the period,” Brook notes. “This enabled us to service our clients and to keep all our staff employed.”

The company also ensures that its workforce remains safe. “Initially, all our employees received sanitiser packs, masks and gloves,” Brook explains. “And we have put up hand-washing stations at our offices. We also measure everyone’s temperature as they come into and go out of the building and premises.”

Pictured above: Clint Brook, Logico Logistics’ MD, believes that there is room for growth through innovation and service offering.

He adds: “If an employee shows any symptoms or has come into contact with someone who is sick, they’re placed in self-isolation for 14 days. And they have to get tested before they return.”

Despite all the hardship, Brook is delighted that he joined Logico Logistics. “I am incredibly happy that I did. It is going better than I could have imagined, but there’s still a lot to do, and I look forward to the challenge.”

He adds: “My view is that there is opportunity in chaos. We managed to win some new clients during the lockdown period. We were fortunate in that we were able to trade fully because of our client base. Other transporters were not so lucky, unfortunately.”

Brook continues: “It also forced us to really look at our business from a strategic point of view, and decide where we want to position the company. It’s not always good to have all one’s eggs in one basket. We would like to diversify the business, but we are ever so grateful that we are predominantly in FMCG, because, if we hadn’t been, we would definitely have had trucks parked up.”

Looking to the future, Brook’s outlook is positive for the company. “Strategic growth is definitely on the cards. We want to branch out and be a bit more versatile in our offering to market,” he explains.

Looking at the positives, Brook explains that it’s become abundantly clear that without trucks South Africa stops.

“Our outlook in the short to medium term is positive. While the country has challenges no one could ever have anticipated, I believe there’s room for growth through innovation and service offering. We see it time and again that service is always the ultimate winner over everything else, which is great for companies in the private sector. We got letters of commendation for our excellent service from a few of our key clients over the lockdown period,” he boasts.

Brook is so positive about the future that he took delivery of 10 new trucks on June 1, (the absolute earliest Logico Logistics could take delivery) to meet growing demand and allocation from both existing and new clientele.

So, even with the devastating effect of the pandemic, Logico Logistics (and so many other local transport operators) managed to deliver essential services to clients, thus ensuring that our country had access to essential goods, without which the hardships of lockdown level 5 (and beyond) would have been even worse.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you and all who risked their health and well-being to keep South Africa fed.

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.
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