November 9, 2017 – I often get asked the question: Why did you start a new company owned by a legacy freight forwarder? Why didn’t you either start Twill as a completely independent company or just make it a department or product of Damco?
For me the answer to this is critical, as it is key to our success. Let me explain…
‘Old School’ freight forwarders: The foundation
Logistics – in its core – is about moving cargo safely, cost efficiently and timely around the globe. Fantastic software alone is not going to make the container move. We need vessels, aeroplanes, trucks, trains, terminals, airports, warehouses and very capable people all around the globe, making sure that the process is a smooth as possible. We need that today and we will also need it tomorrow.
Damco has decades of experience managing exactly this, with a global network of offices and more than 10,000 people with a strong logistics skillset. However, with the rapid technological developments taking place in our society today, consumers’ expectations of the services we use are increasing exponentially – much quicker than incumbent freight forwarders are able to adapt. This makes Damco (amongst other freight forwarders) into what many would refer to as an ‘Old School Freight Forwarder’. This is not necessarily a bad thing though, since Damco’s level of experience still has tremendous benefits and brings a lot to the Twill story.
‘New School’ freight forwarding: Let’s re-think, let’s innovate
Yet on the other side of the equation, we have ‘New School’ freight forwarders. They are very much focused on significantly improving the user experience, utilizing new technology, challenging existing processes, innovating and building agile ways of working – with the customer at the heart of everything they do.
To truly do this, you cannot simply set up a department or product within a company. The established company culture would not allow for this kind of thinking, despite the best intentions. Instead, you need to start from scratch, adopting new mindsets, utilizing new skillsets, bringing a new energy and a genuine and passionate desire to challenge the assumption of ‘that is how we always do it’. This is what we do in Twill and that is why we chose to run Twill as a standalone start-up.
‘New School’ needs ‘Old School’: This is how we can make a difference to the customer
Now to the winning formula: balancing the ‘Old School’ with the ‘New School’, allowing for the synergies to flourish without compromising the strength of both. You can win in this industry and create a new and improved way of doing freight forwarding by combining the new with the old. But you cannot win if you don’t do both – and do both well.
So, to answer the question I am often asked: I truly believe that software, customer focus, new energy and new skills will transform our business – but only if we mix it with the right foundation, experience and already existing assets. That is why Twill is a standalone start-up utilizing the operational set-up of Damco – a top 20 global freight forwarder.
Twill and Damco: A good balance
It is not going to be easy though – it is a constant balancing act that Twill and Damco must engage in. When should we utilize existing assets and when should we build from scratch? This is a constant question for us and we have many explorative discussions. But as with everything else we do, it is about short experiments (fail fast), learning, adjusting and re-starting. This keeps us on our toes and keeps us on balance. And that is the reason why Twill, together with Damco, is going to win – by creating a world class customer experience through a start-up from a freight forwarder which has been around for decades.
– Troels Stovring, CEO