Ferwin Wieringa dares to fly high where others fear to tread

"We will be able to provide value for our customers by simply delivering solutions which work."

Ferwin Wieringa dares to fly high where others fear to tread
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When the going gets tough, the tough gets going...well, a saying that's true in all senses of the term...and here's one more proof. When the global supply chain is roiled with insurmountable problems (Red Sea crisis, Baltimore bridge crash, Ukraine war, Boeing woes and general global political turmoil), here's Ferwin Wieringa daring to start up with HCW Global Logistics.

With over three decades of experience globally with supply chain biggies like Panalpina, CEVA and lastly Maersk Air Cargo, Wieringa is sure to bring a wealth of experience to his "own" business and his "own" customers.

We spoke to Wieringa over e-mail on his latest venture, desire to start out, offerings that could stand out in the cluttered market and more... Edited excerpts:

With supply chain and logistics facing turbulent times, why did you think of starting up now?
Our industry is always confronted with challenging times. So there is never an easy moment to enter the market. Think about it like this - if the market was not turbulent, there would be no opportunities. In non-turbulent times, everybody could start a company. We need headwinds to differentiate and get somewhere.

What is HCW? What does it stand for?
HCW refers to the initials of my father [Henk (Hendrik) Cornelis Wieringa] who passed away exactly one year ago on the day we officially registered HCW Global Logistics as a legal entity. My father was in logistics for his entire career, and was a pioneer in developing RoRo solutions for the car industry, namely Nissan Motor.

What is the primary focus of HCW in terms of mode of transport? Sea, air or multimodal?
The prime focus is on delivering solutions for our customers, irrespective of the mode of transport. However, it goes without saying that the main experience and interest lies in the air freight industry, given my background. However, the focus clearly is on customer demand.

Which markets would be key for HCW?
Given my European background, there will be a lot of emphasis on Europe. This is the home market. Of course, Asia is the driving force in the industry - so countries like India, Vietnam and, of course, China remain key focus markets. With our desire to focus on challenging movements, you can imagine that more remote markets such as Africa will have a high interest as well.

Are you going to focus on any commodities/sectors for initial growth?
The focus is on complex businesses, irrespective of which sector/vertical the demand comes from for us. Typically, you see complex projects in industry verticals such as energy, industrial, relief etc. So, this will be naturally sectors where we will be laser-focussed.

How are you planning to grow your team? What is the size of your team? Who are your key employees/partners in HCW?
The strategy is clearly to stay lean. It's not the intention to hire a lot of staff and create a significant fixed cost base. Resources will be brought on board in line with customer demand/projects on our desk. This also allows us to bring on board true specialists with niche competence needed for specific tasks to be executed.

Who's backing you as funders? What are the plans for fund raise?
At the moment, there is no need for external capital to facilitate growth. Whenever this comes into play, we will carefully consider the partners to support us.

What are the financial targets for year one?
Year one is all about building up and creating customer confidence. Target is to achieve a cost-covering result.

What do you think are players missing out that you think HCW can offer?
There is a lot of respect for current market players and every party has something to offer. We have a niche focus on businesses where we can truly deliver value for our customers. This value is generated by bringing supply and demand together. So, clearly our supplier base and contacts play a key role in our differentiation. Furthermore, we will ensure that we stay agile and be able to react promptly to market changes.

Is HCW going to be a digital only forwarder? Or are you open to the old way of business?
While we fully realise and value the importance of modern technology, we are convinced that our business model will be executed, to a large extent, in the traditional way.

How would you position HCW among the many boutique logistics service providers who are creating tailor-made solutions for today’s shippers?
There are many reputed companies in the industry - from very large global leaders to small boutique shops. We will position ourselves as a specialised boutique shop and will be able to provide value for our customers by simply delivering solutions which work and allow customers to experience peace of mind.

What have been the key takeaways from your time at Maersk Air Cargo? And from 22 years of your experience across Panalpina and CEVA?
Working for 30 years for those three big players has taught me so much about the industry and I am very thankful for that. The experience has taught me who the different players are and what customers truly need. And it also has taught me the challenges being faced by the big companies.

Our opportunity is where we can find the niche where a large player is not able to meet customer expectations, and where the customer is looking for that special care and attention. That is not for their easy-to-move regular shipment from A to B but what is needed for their special, complex movement where they truly need in-depth industry experience. Here we can and will make the difference!

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