DHL: We Go Wherever the Business Is!
Yuri Shevchenko was born in Ust-Kamenogorsk, in 1966. In 1988 he graduated from the Department of Oriental Languages of the USSR Ministry of Defence Military Institute (Moscow) as a specialist in China and the USA. He has worked in DHL since 1994 as Commercial Agent, DHL CIS Security Manager, Ground Services Manager, Operations Manager in Moscow, Operations Manager in Russia. In May 2001 he was appointed Executive Director of DHL Kazakhstan. Since January 2004 he has been Central Asia Regional Manager of the company.
This year, 2004, is the 35th anniversary of DHL – a company which is now a world leader in express delivery and logistics. Over all these years DHL has remained a pioneer in applying new technologies and developing new markets. Therefore it is quite logical that our interview with the Executive Director DHL Kazakhstan, Yuri Shevchenko, starts with a short overview of the history of this company…
DHL means the delivery of any transportable item to anyone, anywhere, within the shortest possible time. It is no exaggeration to state that today we are a global company, present in almost every country of the world and with personnel numbering 160,000 people.
It all started in the USA in 1969, when Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom and Robert Lynn – D, H, and L – came up with a unique and innovative idea for urgent delivery of important documents and cargo by air, and thus became the founders of a new industry. The story of the growth of the company created by these people reflects the process of globalisation of trade. As their clients were winning new markets DHL followed them, providing infrastructure support for businesses all over the world. Having successfully built its business in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Western and Eastern Europe, in 1984 DHL made an agency agreement with Soyuzvneshtrans Foreign Trade Association in Moscow, thus becoming the first air express carrier to enter the Soviet market. Incidentally, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our Russian colleagues, who celebrated the 20th anniversary of DHL operations in Russia in May 2004.
So how did DHL come to our country?
We started providing services in Kazakhstan in 1991. At first this was a small agency with only one person on the staff, but it was already registered as the company DHL International Kazakhstan by 1994. From that moment on, banks and public agencies, embassies and representative offices of major Western companies and international organisations, as well as Kazakhstani business leaders, became our customers and business partners. In order to broaden our range of services we set up our Head Office in Almaty and opened 18 branch offices and agencies in regional centres and large cities in the country, including a branch office in Astana, the capital of our country, and several agencies in the Caspian region. In 2000 DHL International Kazakhstan opened its own customs terminal in the Almaty International Airport, which allowed us to reduce the time for handling all the incoming, outgoing and transit cargo for Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Today, we serve over 80 communities all over the country, including outlying regions such as Tengiz, Aksai, Bautino, Ekibastuz and Rudny, among others.
As far as we know, three large companies, operating in express delivery and logistics, merged under the brand name DHL in 2003. What opportunities and prospects can clients expect from this merger?
Sweeping globalisation, deregulation and the advent of new players into the market is escalating competition and pushing system integrators and logistics companies to streamline their business processes. That is why in 2003 Deutsche Post World Net Group, which became our main shareholder at the turn of the new millennium, started to integrate DHL Worldwide Express (courier and express busuness), Danzas (logistics business) and Deutsche Post Euro Express (postal business) under one renovated brand, DHL. Now we can offer the combined experience and knowledge of three companies, with their wider network, and financial, logistics and transport solutions combined into one service proposal. That is to say that today DHL is capable of satisfying any customer needs from urgent delivery of a small envelope to shipment of a 20-tonne cargo (or any special cargo) by air, ground or sea, implementing the "one stop shopping" principle to the fullest.
Such global changes could hardly have left the Kazakhstan division of DHL intact. What can you say about the main indicators of the company's operations in our country during recent times?
First of all, I would like to note that, due to specific character of our business, the presence of DHL in one country or another may be viewed as a kind of an indicator of business activity. We go where the business is. Thus, the fact that during the last three years DHL Kazakhstan has remained among the three most dynamic branches of our company in the world is highly indicative. Since 2003 when, in line with the overall integration, the Kazakhstan divisions of DHL and Danzas were transformed into one company to provide a wider range of transportation services, we have achieved growth in important indicators such as client satisfaction with DHL services. At the same time the volumes of shipments have increased significantly. In addition to shipments sent within Kazakhstan, our priority destinations are: Europe and the CIS countries, the USA and Asia-Pacific markets. Last year we introduced a new system – Clear in the Air. Its main advantage is the possibility of starting customs clearance of cargo in the country of delivery on the day the cargo is accepted for transportation. This significantly reduces the time of customs clearance of goods after their arrival, which is extremely important in the on-time delivery of shipments.
In order to achieve even higher levels of service and to meet growing demand from our regular and new customers we have introduced a number of new services for sending heavy shipments and providing logistics solutions. The new services include the Proactive Tracking of the shipments. At present our customers have an opportunity to receive on-line information about the movement of his shipment using Internet, e-mail or SMS. All this has become possible through appropriate technical and technological support at all stages of the transportation process.
Since DHL is actively promoting Kazakhstan's image in the world, how do you evaluate the investment climate and opportunities for the operations of foreign companies in our country?
Kazakhstan has vast potential and we are honoured to work here. In my opinion, our cooperation is a prime example of matching the interests of business, government and society. On the one hand, the availability of efficient communications system is especially important for Kazakhstan with its huge territory and low population density. On the other hand, the domestic economy has been demonstrating high growth rates lately and this is automatically raising the demand for our services from Kazakhstani businesses, for which our company functions as a kind of blood circulation system. No less important is the role of DHL as one of the mechanisms of involving the country into world economic processes promoting the image of the country abroad. For example, if a Kazakhstani manufacturing company enters the international market, it is only necessary for it to demonstrate samples of its products to its business partners, and we will help it to do this in the fastest and most reliable way. Very often businesspeople arriving in Kazakhstan for business with our company take an interest in the country and start their own business here. Moreover, the investment climate in the country is one of the best in the CIS and the results of our operations confirm this.
DHL is striving to extend the potential of constructive and mutually beneficial cooperation between business circles in Kazakhstan and the USA. Thus, at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan the company has provided the US Department of Trade and Commerce with a letter, stating that Kazakhstan has created attractive terms for foreign investors. This eventually had an influence on the decision of the USA to remove restrictions on trading with Kazakhstan and local entrepreneurs managed to obtain more beneficial conditions.
In conclusion, could you share the future plans of DHL with the readers of our magazine?
In terms of global plans, this year we started a widespread campaign to promote our transport services within the USA. DHL has invested over US$1 billion in its divisions on the American continent, increasing our operational capabilities there by 60%. With its own global network, DHL can offer more transportation, distribution and logistics solutions to customers sending goods to the USA. Taking into account the fact that the USA is one of Kazakhstan's major trading partners, I believe that the efforts of DHL will be appreciated by many Kazakhstan companies.
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