The world of logistics is fast-paced and extremely demanding. Firms working in this space must be highly agile, prepared for any challenge that can arise. When they are serving some of the world’s biggest brands, this is all the more necessary.
Global clients demand the same standards wherever they operate in the world, even in places with underdeveloped infrastructure, and they work with short contracts of one or two years to ensure they can remain agile.
LF Logistics lists companies in these industries as its customers. Despite short-term contracts, as practised in the industry, it manages to sustain decades-long partnerships with these local and multinational organisations.
“We deliver speed, innovation and digitalisation through combined efforts of very thorough planning with our customers and very rapid and robust execution with our suppliers,” says Senior Vice President, Head of Country and Business Development, Joyce Ramos.
Even while fending off competitors in a tough environment, LF Logistics has enjoyed stellar financial results in recent years. “In the seven years I’ve been here, we’ve had a very high compounded annual growth rate in terms of profit prior to taxes, and even the gross profit is actually at a high level at double-digit growth year on year.”
Grow with the client
For LF Logistics, growth is about much more than simply winning accounts with more clients. Instead, it comes from a combination of constantly improving operations and working tirelessly to build trusting, mutually beneficial relationships with customers and suppliers.
At this level, when you take a look at the customer, growing your sales is not necessarily just about winning new accounts. We have a business pipeline for that but what is more relevant is that you take care of your customers.
“At this level, when you take a look at the customer, growing your sales is not necessarily just about winning new accounts,” Joyce says. “We have a business pipeline for that but what is more relevant is that you take care of your customers.”
The first few contracts with a customer may have a narrow focus and provide limited commercial opportunity, she explains. But by going above and beyond to serve that customer, and learning their values and needs while earning their trust, LF Logistics has been able to win more and more business.
“Your customers need somebody else to work on functions they can outsource because their focus is really marketing and selling. In manufacturing or the logistics chain, they really just want a valued partner who can take care of it – one that understands their vision; one that is connected with the way their people think,” Joyce points out.
“That’s how we grow. That’s why we do not think of our customers just as recipients of our services. It’s about how our customers can grow, because if they are growing, we grow with them.”
Supply chain veteran
Having spent a large part of her career working in senior roles for Avon, Johnson & Johnson and SC Johnson, where she took care of manufacturing, supply chain, marketing and customer services for the Asia–Pacific and European regions, Joyce is highly qualified to deepen LF Logistics’ connections to large multinationals.
“I’ve been in the supply chain industry for three decades,” she reveals.
After a decade spent travelling constantly, Joyce was given the opportunity to be based in the Philippines, her home country, with LF Logistics. The offer came as she began to long for more stability that would give her an opportunity to be closer to home.
At first, she envisioned staying until her family had adjusted and then resuming her international lifestyle. But in the end, she found her current position was as varied and enriching as the more international roles she has held.
The thrust of LF Logistics is to develop the ‘supply chain of the future’. A well-integrated, end-to-end supply chain is at its best in servicing its consumers when forged with trust in the right set of partners.
“I got used to being responsible for several countries, but under just one company. Now, I have multiple global companies to work with, even if I’m just based here in the Philippines. This opportunity really met both my personal and professional needs.”
Joyce has a unique advantage of once being on the other side of the fence as a customer and bringing that perspective into a holistic service value proposition at LF Logistics. This enables her to bridge an integral solutions design framework to meet exacting client demands.
Joyce believes three key factors differentiate LF Logistics from its competition: processes, technology and people. The first involves fostering a razor-sharp focus on the customer, identifying their pain points and thinking several steps ahead in order to be ready when new needs arise.
“The leading edge we have is really all about, first and foremost, customer centricity. You need to know who your customers are. You need to know what they need, even before they say they need it,” she says. “You need to be able to conceptualise and execute whatever it is you think they will need, and be able to influence them into using it.
“Our modern, sustainable choices for equipment and well-designed warehousing solutions for B2B and ecommerce are a product of iterative simulations to ensure optimised performance and delivery for our customers.
“Our facilities stand the test of time, given very careful planning and collaboration with our partners. We are about to build a mega distribution centre in South Luzon as well as our second major distribution facility in South Cebu with the aim of being Gold LEED Certified as part of our sustainability initiatives.”
Late last year, LF Logistics was acquired by the giant Maersk, and the integration process is ongoing. The acquisition is testament to how strong the company’s processes are in terms of delivering a fully end-to-end service. “It shows we are really able to deliver,” Joyce confirms.
The new ownership also benefits LF Logistics, giving it access to a finely tuned global supply chain network and, ultimately, greater agility and flexibility to serve its customers at every stage of the supply chain, from the factory doors to the shop floor, retail outlets and home delivery.
“Our ultimate priority is our customers,” she says. “It becomes a one-stop-shop if you provide them with end-to-end integrated services. With us, you don’t go from one service provider to the next. You just have one partner that works not only in one country, but takes care of things in a number of countries, regionally and globally.”
You need to know who your customers are. You need to know what they need, even before they say they need it.
Technology, the second pillar, is about identifying and implementing the best available tools to ensure these processes are as lean and efficient as possible. “The thrust of LF Logistics is to develop the ‘supply chain of the future’. A well-integrated, end-to-end supply chain is at its best in servicing its consumers when forged with trust in the right set of partners,” Joyce says.
“It’s about operational excellence and meeting your day-to-day needs. There’s a lot of funding and investment that is being done with our systems, our technology. We’re using automation solutions for storage and replenishment, for example, and we operate one system across the globe.
“It’s not just the Philippines; every time there is a need to change something, we apply it across the whole of LF Logistics. We adapt what we need to ease our customers into our operational environment.”
The third pillar, people, underpins everything else. “The most important thing is people,” she stresses. “No matter how much change you make to your processes, to your systems and your technology, if you do not have the right leadership and the right set of people across all levels of the organisation, then it will fail.”
This is why LF Logistics invests in its talent just as seriously as it invests in new automation.
“There’s so much work and so much energy that’s put into developing our people, into learning and organisational development, into engagement. That’s a very important aspect of what we do, and I would say the reason why we are succeeding,” she adds.
LF Logistics relies on a number of key partners in order to excel at what it does. Its fire protection systems, its truckers and even its fleet are provided or operated by trusted third parties. The company therefore forms part of a finely tuned ecosystem.
“If you take a look at LF Logistics, we don’t just cover the facilities – we cover transportation, global freight management, value-added services, order management, solutions design and end-to-end ecommerce services,” Joyce explains.
“LF Logistics’ operation centricity provides a way of working with all our partners, from truckers to facility contractors, to our material handling equipment vendors. Just like with our own people, our supplier partners have to be operating the same way as we do; governed by the same principles and methodology we have set.”
Maintaining such a high level of consistency requires intensive training for partners, and offering close guidance and detailed feedback during the onboarding process and throughout the relationship.
“The solution we offer must be mutually agreed and accepted by all stakeholders,” Joyce says. “This allows us to build an engaging business relationship and benefits us both in terms of what each can bring to the table. It offers mutual learning.”
No matter how much change you make to your processes, to your systems and your technology, if you do not have the right leadership and the right set of people across all levels of the organisation, then it will fail.
LF Logistics strives to make its customers feel at ease, and to let them know robust solutions are being planned for – and with – them, which is why it’s so critical for the large number of suppliers the company has to be able to emulate operational excellence and its ways of working.
Simply offering training isn’t enough; according to Joyce, it is also vital to ensure that each partnership has a rewarding narrative for both sides. “It’s important that we measure their capabilities, their KPIs, such that they also see themselves progressing,” she explains. “We have vendor recognition programs where we get to recognise and award their efforts and achievements.
“That is why we are always paying close attention to our relationships with our people, our customers and our suppliers – these comprise the partners we trust. It is this kind of synergy and engagement that make LF Logistics the partner of choice.”