Aim for the best

Pune-based JFK Transporters Pvt. Ltd. wants to be the best transport company in India.

Story by: Ashish Bhatia

Established in 1980 by Adil Kotwal, Pune-based JFK Transporters Pvt Ltd. has been growing steadily. Keen to tap new avenues like Third-party Logistics (3PL), made attractive by the implementation of GST, the company entered the transportation business with a single truck that carried Godrej cupboards from Mumbai to Delhi. In pursuit of their goal to be termed as the best transport company in India, JFK Transporters’ expanded its operations to include tractor-trailers. Over time ODC carriers also added to the company portfolio, signaling an expansion to ODC assignments. Undertaking inter-state assignments to far away places like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the company has come to build a fleet of 100 trucks. With a plan to elevate the count to 1000 trucks in the span of seven to eight years, JFK transporters conducts operations in 15 cities across the country. The Indian Bank Association (IBA) approved company has come to have a network spanning across the globe, albeit through the Avaind Logistics business vertical.

Serving clients like Reliance Industries, Piaggio, Chevron, Linde, Hindalco, Castrol and Petronas among others, JFK Transporters, according to the Chief Executive Officer Jehaan Kotwal, is into the transport of lubricants and petroleum products among others. With stress on quality over quantity, the company, mentions Jehaan, would rather opt for a Rs.500 crore business turnover with a 20 per cent margin than a Rs.1000 crore turnover with a comparatively lower (10 per cent) margin. Driving a change, Jehaan is empowering the drivers of his trucks with a belief that it is they who will help him achieve the growth that he envisages. “My sensitivity towards the driver community comes from my father,” mentioned Jehaan. He expressed that it is the driver who is the most neglected in the country today. Keen to offer the best service, JFK Transporters is constantly on the lookout for innovative transport solutions, and the need to offer tailor-made solutions. Foraying into e-commerce last year, the company has come to offer last mile transportation service for cargo weighing over five kilograms and up to 1.5-tonne.

Niche service provider

With exposure to diverse industrial commodities like cement, power, steel and sugar, JFK Transporters is keen to turn into a niche service provider. It has structured its business into verticals like road transport, freight forwarding and clearing (CHA), air transport, warehousing, packaging, etc. With attention to present a positive Business-to-Customer (B2C) logistics experience, the company under the road transport vertical, indulges in project cargo transport, Customised Investment Logistics (C.I.L), first and last mile transport solutions, and door-to-door service. Withdrawing from last mile transportation very recently, and because of deteriorating margins, except for a select few customers, JFK Transporters, in addition to ODC carriers, has container trucks and tankers at the core of its fleet.

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Claimed to hold the record for the largest Over Dimensional Cargo (ODC) consignment transported out of Pune, according to Jehaan, the company has to its credit over 100 projects. Carrying out complete transportation for one of the largest cement factories in Madhya Pradesh of Reliance Industries, JFK Transporters, averred Jehaan, is ranked as one of the best ODC transporters in the country. With no effort spared to out perform, the company, filling the void with the C.I.L is focusing on a strong understanding of the customer needs. C.I.L, stated Jehaan, is focusing upon understanding the needs of the clients, and offer an optimum solution. Customisation of the vehicle is carried out to suit the client need. Technology, trained labour and trucks designed for the purpose are integrated. They provide a seamless experience, opined Jehaan.

The focus, in the case of door-to-door service, is on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC). Cargo of diverse nature is exported globally, and with emphasis on reducing the bottlenecks. Introduced to cater to the company’s primary clients who were on a lookout for an end-to-end solution for their cargo needs the world over, freight forwarding, said Jehaan, has been rewarding. The projects carried out under this head include handling shipments, irrespective of their size and nature. Hazardous substances, and perishable items needing refrigeration, or liquid bulk shipments for example. Customs clearance services ensure a seamless process for the client.

Avaind Logistics

With offices at Nigadi and Chakan in Pune, and at Hyderabad, Avaind Logistics commenced operations in 2010. As an international freight forwarding arm of JFK Transporters, it is helping the company to control costs over its peers that rely on third party logistics. With a client base comprising of ThyssenKrupp, Thermax, Sandvik Asia, Reliance Cement and Gulf Cement Co., Avaind Logistics offers speedy, safe and smooth transit. Shorter lead times and greater convenience is backed by competitive freight pricing and flexible shipping schedules. Offering value added services like document transfer, order follow-up, and temporary warehousing, Avaind Logistics has at its disposal well-maintained and well-equipped open trucks and trailers fit for long-haulage. These trucks are equipped with GPS technology that offers not just real-time tracking, but also driver metrics. Performance gauging is made easy. With flat-bed trailers of up to 80 feet length, low-bed trailers with a ground clearance as low as 1.5 ft., drop-bed trailers, and high-capacity pullers or prime movers capable of towing loads up to 200 metric-tonne available, handling prestigious projects, including the export of capital machinery and equipment for 3,000 TPD Clinker Grinding Machine, were successfully carried out. Known to provide optimum services in break bulk movement and containerised cargo, the company successfully executed an export assignment to Jebel Ali for Gulf Cement Corporation.

Tailored solutions

JFK Transporters started a new initiative last year, that of providing truck mounted cranes. This was born out the need to support a Godrej project where the use of conventional trailers led to material damage. Mentioned Jehaan, that conventional trailers were leading to material damage due to dropping. The truck mounted crane facilitated a safe pick-up and stack. Over time, the truck mounted cranes have come to find many uses. The JFK Transporters fleet has come to include three-to-five truck mounted cranes. A new project at Bihar is expected to take the number to 10 crane trucks. Announced Jehaan, that they are among the first few transport companies to have increased its Turn Around Time (TAT). This is in addition to achieving optimal reduction in cargo damages, he said. To boost the lube business, the company procured BharatBenz trucks with 28 ft. length. These have a rated payload of 21-tonne. Training customers to secure their load, Jehaan expressed, “customers should get the benefit of working with us.” Employing innovative approaches for last mile movement, include lighter vehicles, longer-body, truck bed-side covers, and container heights tailored to the project requirement, JFK Transporters is adhering to the practice of merging with other companies on common routes as per the client requirement. Drivers are supplied with mobile handsets.

Operating with an attached fleet of 100 to 150 trucks (own fleet amounts to 100 trucks, and makes up roughly 50 per cent of the total fleet strength), JFK Transporters, according to Jehaan, has a strong back-end system available. It is subject to partners providing a minimum business guarantee. Reaching the count of 100 trucks over the last three years from 10 trucks, the company is targeting 1000 trucks and 1000 drivers over the next seven to eight years. The tanker count of the company accounts to 10. The trucks dedicated to the transport of lubes account for 40 numbers. The rest of the fleet comprises of tractor trailers.

Global practices

Linking growth with global best practices, Jehaan is of the opinion that there is a long way to go yet. He mentioned, “Be it the driver wages, or the cost of trucks, India is way behind its global counterparts.” Drawing attention to the disparity in cost of building infrastructure versus the cost of labour and commodities, Jehaan said, “The cost of building per kilometre of road is high in comparison to the quantum of driver wages and the truck costs.” Confident of reducing up to three per cent of the costs incurred by going digital, Jehaan averred, “there is a need to make everything digital. Especially the Point of Deposit (PoD) system.” Terming the credit cycle in India severely inflated, Jehaan stated, “if freight cost went down, the GDP could be significantly boosted.” Stressing upon the need to use technology like GPS to track driving practices and not just optimise the route, Jehaan quipped, “There is a need to widen the insurance cover of the driver community, which is a dismal 0.1 per cent.” Stating that the drivers of his company were paid 20 per cent more than the industry standards, Jehaan drew attention to drivers being paid USD 10,000 to 15,000 in many global markets. “This is inclusive of insurances, “ he added. If the higher pay-scales has helped JFK Transporters to tide over the issue of driver shortage, Jehaan is well aware of the change the CVs in India are going through. He is quick to comment, that foreign entrants like Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) are forcing homegrown players to change. He pointed at Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles as well. In the interest of safety, Jehaan called upon manufacturers to offer airbags, ABS and other such features as standard.

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Future Outlook

Using third-party businesses to outsource elements of the company’s distribution and fulfillment services in logistics and supply chain, JFK Transporters is keen to tap projects that require professional transporters. Calling for a need to elevate safety, Jehaan is confident of his company carving out a larger pie of the lubes, petroleum and gas transportation business. Keen to leverage its long experience in addressing the changing needs of the clients, JFK Transporters is looking upon GST as a means to change the vision. It will, said Jehaan, present a huge opportunity to professional players. Of the opinion that fly-by-night operators will find it difficult, Jehaan explained, “Sustaining driver quality and assuring the availability of well trained drivers will continue to be a challenge. Transporters will have to change the way they have been operating.” As we seek new ways to grow, concluded Jehaan, we will realise our mission of becoming the best transport company in this country.