Blue Star Logistics comfortably bucked the 2009 economic downturn by posting a growth of 18 percent for the year. Delivering blue chip services for blue chip customers is the secret to its ongoing success.
The Eideh family started in the transport business back in the 60s using a small van to undertake a rapid delivery service around Melbourne city and suburbs, but today the fledgling business is a long way removed from the national trucking and logistics company known as Blue Star Logistics that is a preferred carrier and distribution provider for some of the country’s largest firms.
From day one the company pursued an ethic to be the best in the business; delivering absolute first class handling, transportation, distribution and reliable service, something the family has never ignored and is today instilled into every person working for the company.
As the business grew so too did the need for a larger premises and while it may have commenced operations from a suburban backyard, today it occupies a huge 31,000 square metre distribution headquarters at Somerton on Melbourne’s outskirts – its home for the past four years – and has established branches in every capital and is slowly doing so in regional areas.
Attitude for success
Blue Star Logistics is one of Australia’s business success stories and all of its achievements can be attributed to the family’s commitment to be the best in a highly competitive market, but all goals have been hard won and complacency is not a word tolerated across it operations.
Managing Director Muzi Eideh walks through the company headquarters at 4 pm on a usual busy afternoon. Trucks, mainly B-Doubles, are entering and leaving the loading area in a constant and orderly fashion. Orderly is the name of the game at Blue Star. Each vehicle has a specified loading area, forklifts and people go about their business effortlessly and there is nowhere chaos can be seen. It is like that every hour of every day and while Muzi may head the company, he knows everybody by name, including most of the truck drivers delivering to the facility, and has a pleasant word for all.
“There are challenges but in reality one of the things that drives our company is the fact that while many things are in fact simple, it is our role to do the simple things very well.”
He is a hands-on person who knows every facet of the business inside out and is continually a part of activities; giving him a total knowledge allowing him to take concise and practical reports to customers should they be required. And therein lies the secret to a company that boasts ongoing success through personal relationships with the client base.
“Our customers are our business and we make every effort to become an integral part of theirs. This has been our aim all along and it is important to keep forging ahead with the formula that sees us form a close relationship with customers, it is most important,” Muzi says.
“I would like to think we play a big role in increasing their sales through proper handling methods to ensure those products present well, through providing efficient and reliable service to meet order demand and having a thorough knowledge of customer products to deliver warehousing and pick and pack services that are the very best.”
Blue Star Logistics had its Somerton facilities purpose-built for customers and its warehousing and distribution needs – the result is a finely tuned complex meeting exacting needs of clients and its customers. This has been combined with high levels of technology developed to not only track and trace consignments, but also effect delivery schedules with the highest possible accuracy. To this end and complementing those systems, each truck is fitted with GPS.
Between 15 and 20 percent of staff have been with the company for over 15 years and exhibit a huge amount of pride in everything they do.
“Everything has been designed for our customers, we listen to their needs and act on it, this has been very big for us and part of our ongoing commitment to unequalled service. It also allows our customers to help themselves to information which is a very important part of their costing needs, sales activities and in many cases stock control – meeting all of their expectations,” Muzi advises.
Continuing to grow
Blue Star has expanded depots in other states and through establishing facilities in regions such as Albury, Canberra, the NSW Central Coast and Gold Coast it is broadening its reach into areas where customer business is becoming increasingly important.
“At one time we used agents in many areas but the decision was made to do the work ourselves in order to deliver a total customer package, that way we have complete control over our activities and again can report to clients on the status of any load or consignment with exacting information,” he says.
Regular client meetings are held at Blue Star Logistics premises where those attending can see first hand what is happening. All are given equal opportunity to discuss any facet of the transport, warehousing and distribution activities of the company and suggestions are given consideration.
“They like coming here, in fact they look forward to it, and we take great pride in what we are doing for them and will show anything they desire. Our customers are very comfortable with us and we, with them and all meetings give the opportunity to expand the relationships between us. We have found this to be extremely valuable and the feedback we receive is gratifying,” Muzi tells.
“We love to differ from the multi-national transport and logistics companies and we are very proud of the fact that no matter how much we grow, we are very accessible. Our customers all know me and I am always available.
“It is important to learn on a daily basis and continually seek ways to improve our methods and improve on costs through increased efficiency.”
“The variety of products we carry does not expose us to a fall in the economy and our growth last year indicates our wide variety of activities attuned to our customers, delivers strength to our business. An example is that normally the period after Christmas is historically a slow one but here at Blue Star it was an entirely different story, we had to recall people from holidays to ensure our customer needs were met.”
Growth is continual and the company launched Blue Star Global Logistics on March 1, a business arm independent of the transport services currently operated.
“A lot of our customers require services that involve container handling and forwarding and customs services. This new facet of our business will encompass import and export, container cartage and we will establish a bond store, offering clients a complete transport solution. There are challenges but in reality one of the things that drives our company is the fact that while many things are in fact simple, it is our role to do the simple things very well,” Muzi explains.
Service to staff and customers
Muzi has a lot to say about the people in the company employs and points out that between 15 and 20 percent of staff have been with the company for over 15 years and exhibit a huge amount of pride in everything they do.
“If you do not have good people you will not achieve desired goals. A lot of people here think they own the place and everything they do they do with ownership. This is a people industry and we are always ready to tell it how it is in any circumstance. If you don’t do that everything falls apart and we take all steps to communicate with customers and ask for an evaluation of our performance, asking if everything has been done properly,” he says with pride. “It is important to learn on a daily basis and continually seek ways to improve our methods and improve on costs through increased efficiency. Most of our customers have ownership too and that is something you do not get elsewhere.”
Safety is of the utmost importance and one just has to look at the terminal design to see how this has been addressed. All moving traffic is kept to outside areas, loading and unloading is carried out with all trucks working to a drive in and drive out situation in a facility kept spotless and staff members are vitally aware of all obligations.
“Our actions speak for themselves. It all comes from the experience of our people and it is just how we are. Service is our security and we concentrate on providing that at all times.”
“We have a work safe environment and have never had a serious workplace accident. Everything is under the microscope and we even replace forklifts every four years for safety. All of our equipment is modern, we replace trucks every four years too for ultimate reliability and safety as well as the new technology advances available. We have around 240 pieces of equipment in total and currently use Freightliner Argosy and Scania trucks, not because we have an alliance with those manufacturers but due to the fact that the vehicles suit our requirements. Most of our trailers are Vawdrey and five new B-Doubles have just been delivered.
“Customers are taken into account when ordering new trailers, with all needs taken into account and we advertise many companies and their products on the equipment. It is just one of the ways we are better and our customers recognise many companies cannot offer services we do and be cost effective.”
Blue Star utilises the services of a number of subcontractors within operations and many have been with the company for long periods of time. Subbies too undergo a thorough screening before given work and are expected to meet high standards in order to meet services designed for customers.
Linehaul movements average 35 daily and the company addresses all fatigue requirements in an operation fine-tuned for shuttle scheduling for safety with service.
Warehousing has seen enormous growth and all facilities are under cover for product protection. So much growth has been realised that the company now leases extra space nearby and is looking to expand its own facilities, just another example of how the firm is progressing.
Interestingly the company employs just one salesperson and Muzi explains this person does an exceptional job, but the bulk of new business continues to be realised from excellent customer service and the resultant word of mouth.
“Our actions speak for themselves. It all comes from the experience of our people and it is just how we are. Service is our security and we concentrate on providing that at all times and if it continues to attract customers, and if our current clients are satisfied by the job we do, then we are doing something right,” Muzi says as he overlooks activities in the loading area.
Blue Star Logistics covers all sectors of transport and logistics, from couriers through to the largest consignments, and growth continues to be a feature of the business. One small van, a set of ethics focussed on service and an absolute aim to deliver customer satisfaction have steered Blue Star Logistics into national operations.