Metamorphosising the logistics industryPOSTED BY Adela Megan Willy ON 12 September 2015
FOR several reasons, we dub this year as the year of start-up businesses.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs are mushrooming, revolutionising the industries their enterprises are based in and surprisingly, the individuals behind some of the fast-rising brands in Malaysia belong in Generation Y.
The whys and wherefores of these young individuals’ quantum leaps into entrepreneurship can be described as “diverse” or even “random” for that matter.
While some dislike working for people, others are relatively driven by the prospects of a lot of money.
For 27-year-old Nadhir Ashafiq, the plan was to transform the domestic logistics industry. How is it possible that a barely 30-year-old manages a firm which currently has a diverse clientele spread across the country, with a combined fleet size of almost 800 commercial transporters?
You see, there is another co-owner in the picture, in the form of Goh Chee Hau, also 27.
“Sadly, Goh couldn’t join us today as he’s out and about meeting clients,” Nadhir tells Cars, Bikes & Trucks.
Like any other businesses, juggling clients and the press is the norm when it comes to building the TheLorry.com brand.
“TheLorry.com just passed the one year mark and we’re proud to say that we’ve managed to grow nicely, gaining more recognition as well as vendors and customers all over Peninsular Malaysia,” says Nadhir.
But really, what is TheLorry.com?
Heck, neither can you purchase trucks here nor is it the Wikipedia for lorries. But if you guessed that the website is a unique matchmaking platform for your logistics needs, then kudos to you.
Think of it this way: Why get ripped off by bogus moving and lorry transportation service providers who lure customers by painting their contact details on the road curbs when you can simply request for a transporter via TheLorry.com?
Easy, legit and more importantly, reliable, TheLorry.com grew from the idea of having a commercial vehicle version (including heavy item movers) of MyTeksi.
At a minimum rate of RM100 (the figure increases according to the distance travelled), you can have your items transported from Point A to Point B simply by filling up the online form and proceed with payment either via online or the cash-on-delivery option.
“Me and Goh were colleagues at a global aviation logistics company before we set up TheLorry.com. So one day during lunch, we contemplated ways on shaking up the logistics industry to make it more efficient, innovative and low-cost,” Nadhir explains.
“We figured that there were a lot of holes in this industry to fill and markets to penetrate. Thus, we built the website, got in touch with investors and clients, then launched TheLorry.com right after.”
Nadhir admits that the past 12 months have been a bittersweet journey for himself and the company, with all kinds of business problems following suit, but they took it all in stride.
“There was literally blood, sweat and tears when we built the brand. The sweat and blood came from loading up and down items. The tears, well, were results of getting turned down and rejected by partners and vendors,” he laments.
Then again, he emphasises the fact that when it comes to being an entrepreneur, there are highs and lows. And on top of that, competition within the same industry is brewing and the chain reaction mechanism is further complicated with the rise of competitors who raise the bar higher.
“Believe it or not, when I came in for an interview with a local radio station this morning, there there was… a copycat with the same business structure as ours. Honestly, I was really upset,” Nadhir tells us with a rather sad, awkward smile stamped on his face.
“Having said that, we all need some sort of challenge or competition because these are the things that drive us towards achieving success. So I tell myself this, if there are copycats, it means we have done something right.
“So, the goal is to move at a faster pace and work hard and smart so that our competitors will not be able to catch up.” Talk about having some pretty wise and at the same time, intimidating, words from the mouth of a fresh-faced entrepreneur.
Nadhir also reveals to us that if luck is in the company’s favour and both co-founders rub the magic lamp right, chances are the company might expand its business portfolio to include sea and air freight logistics services in the future.
“The reason why we’re now focused on growing our road freight business is because of the string of rules, regulations and policies that comes with the sea and air freight logistics. For now though, we hope to dominate the lorry rental market and grow organically, online,” he says.
It’s been only a year but we dare say that the future of TheLorry.com seems pretty rosy and if Nadhir and Goh keep playing their cards right, market recognition might help the brand turn into something more than just a leading hopeful.
“More people are knocking on our doors now with the intention of being our vendors. In our earlier days, it was so difficult to acquire clients as our website wasn’t up and running yet, but we worked our way through,” he says.
“We are definitely on the lookout for growth opportunities regionally, especially in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. We are in the midst of laying down groundworks, so hopefully we can begin operations there by next year.”
Even as a layman, we can only assume that having a business under one’s belt is not so simple a task. In saying so, Nadhir points out the importance of being strategic-minded and that most of the time, it is only right to have a beginning that is humble.
“A few entrepreneurs make the mistake of aiming too high. My advice is to gain as much experience first by serving a chosen industry, master the A to Zs of business including the method of lean start-up. Start from the bottom but learn fast. Also, be frugal with what you earn,” he advises.
Having partnered with various renowned chains, managing the transportation of items of all sorts and sizes, Nadhir also shares with us some of his team’s experiences dealing with some of the most bizarre requests.
“A customer once requested for us to transport his pet cat from Kota Baru to Kuala Lumpur. If that isn’t strange enough, we were once asked to transport a football team! Also, someone asked if we could transfer his mattress at 11pm,” he laughs.
. For more information, look up www.thelorry.com or www.facebook.com/thelorrydotcom