Logistics & Materials Handling sits down with Saul Resnick, CEO at DHL Supply Chain Australia & New Zealand to discuss culture, strategy and the misnomer of free delivery.
DHL Supply Chain, part of the Deutsche Post DHL Group, boasts around 155,000 employees in more than 50 countries.
Since first arriving in Australia in 1972, DHL Supply Chain has been consistently growing and developing its footprint locally.
Most recently with contract wins from Panasonic, Decathlon as well as recently a major contract with Chemist Warehouse – which will see DHL manage the supply chain for fast-moving consumer goods products and for front-of-store products going into more than 400 Chemist Warehouse pharmacies nationally.
Bringing a wealth of experience from the US and Europe, DHL Supply Chain’s global commitment and expertise to major logistics markets is what Saul Resnick, CEO, DHL Supply Chain Australia & New Zealand believes keeps DHL on top.
“We’ve had fantastic growth – I remember when we had 800 employees in Australia now we have ~3600 and a further 570 in New Zealand,” Saul says.
DHL’s growth is showing no signs of slowing down. “Just this morning, we turned the first sod at one of our new sites in Melbourne. We also have another two large facilities opening in Sydney soon. All of this means new customers, new opportunities for employment and also for our people to develop and grow,” Saul says.
Saul started his career in logistics when he was working for a shipping and trade finance company in his home country of South Africa. This company acquired a bulk handling business and he was tasked with running the business. “I was thrown into the deep end and I absolutely loved it,” he recalls.
When he arrived in Australia 14 years ago, Saul had an open mind about what sector he would move into. But before long he found himself back in the logistics sector with a role at Exel logistics.
For Saul, the Australian culture really resonated with his own personal values. “I was learning the Australian market and economy but also the culture. I found that the local culture here was absolutely to my liking. I found the level of engagement from the store person up to management was like nothing I had experienced before. There was a greater level of equivalence between all employees and management and I enjoyed that junior people within the business could communicate in a frank and candid manner,” Saul said.
Shortly after Saul started at Exel Logistics, the business was acquired by DHL and Saul has stayed with and developed through the business since.
One group strategy
DHL Supply Chain was recently recognised as a top employer in eight different countries. For Saul, much of the success of DHL can be attributed to its employees truly understanding the direction and strategy of the organisation.
“Across the business people understand what the overall strategy is and also, they understand their role in making it come to life,” Saul says.
The one group strategy for DHL is to focus, connect and grow and within these underlying values is the need to consider staff, customers and shareholders as well as the environment, Saul says.
“Our group CEO is prone to say culture eats strategy for breakfast and I really believe this. No matter who you are or what role you have you should be treated on how you deliver and how you behave,” he says.
According to Saul, for organisations like DHL, the less said about the logistics provider the better. “We work behind the scenes to facilitate supply chains worldwide. DSC provides customer-centric and often very complex logistics solutions, from warehousing to transport, real estate management to e-fulfillment among others. If our name is not heard, then it usually means we are doing a good job. And every employee is involved in that success,” he says.
Though DHL is a global organisation, its holding company is in Europe and according to Saul, many of DHL Supply Chain Australia’s customers are surprised at how different the geography is in Australia.
“There is no first-time visitor who isn’t surprised when we overlay a map of Europe with Australia and you see London to Moscow is the equivalent distance of Sydney to Perth or the East Coast to West Coast in the United States,” Saul says.
In addition, the majority of the population in Australia is within short distances of each other, for example ~70 per cent of Australia’s population is between Brisbane and Melbourne. “When you say to a customer you want to move product from Sydney to Perth and you don’t want a satellite facility in Perth then you can expect a four to five-day transit time, you can certainly see the surprise in their eyes,” Saul says.
Talent and skills
As the logistics and supply chain sector struggles to attract new talent. “The days of someone joining a business at 21 and working until they are 65 are few and far between,” Saul says.
People are now looking for more change in their roles and according to Saul it is about finding ways to allow people to work in different areas of the business so that they can find their passion.
“We have a successful graduate program, which has bought in a lot of great talent and many of those graduates are now rising through our ranks. Technology is a very important aspect of what we do, so our employees are driven by the changes and developments in this space,” Saul says.
As for the truck drivers, DHL focus on safety and the health and wellbeing of our drivers above all else. “We create a quality environment for them to work in and make sure that they are fairly rewarded and see a good future for themselves. We take our Chain of Responsibility laws very seriously, and see that as part of being an employer of choice,” Saul says.
Saul takes a lot of pride in working for DHL and comments on how many employees feel connected to the global organisations that they serve. “Our people take great ownership in the large-scale projects we are involved in, they feel a part of the process and are greatly recognised for all the hard work they do,” Saul says.
Australia also has high labour costs in comparison to Europe or North America. “Transport costs can also be high and generally the freight will travel mostly in one direction,” Saul says.
With all these challenges in mind, Saul believes that it’s about educating the customer. For DHL, the first step in bringing a new customer to the Australian market would be to inform them of these unique challenges and work with them to find a solution. “We work with our customers to find a solution and also to make sure we are using the right kind of technology and automation so that we can be cost effective. We ask ourselves are we using the most efficient means of transport and storage to enable the most cost-effective delivery solution without compromising on quality,” Saul says.
When it comes to the concept of free delivery, Saul believes this is a misnomer. “Nothing is for free, the reality is that it costs money to put a driver and truck on the road in a safe environment,” he says.
For Saul, the conversation shouldn’t be about free delivery, it should be based on what is required. “People should be asking themselves – is it critical? Does it really need to be delivered next day? And if not, then maybe it’s okay to wait for it,” he says.
Third-party logistics providers are geared to meet increased consumer demands, but free delivery could create an element of the market which is an unsustainable race to the bottom, Saul says.