Behind the Brand - SB Global

Introducing Stephen Bateman, SB Global Logistics

Stephen Bateman croppedTell us about your company, SB Global Logistics...
SB Global Logistics is a New Zealand owned and managed organisation, formed in 1990 by Stephen and Anita Bateman.

Today employing a team of 50, we have progressed to the cutting edge of the freight industry – global logistics. No longer is a straightforward door-to-door delivery service enough for all products or customers. Through an integrated and expert approach we are able to offer a range of services including international freight forwarding, customs consulting, inventory management, warehouse and distribution services. This in turn allows customers to simply focus on their own core competencies, be it manufacturing, producing, designing, or marketing and selling.

Our vision of the future needs of customers has meant we are continually evaluating and investing in new technology to ensure our systems provide comprehensive information transparency with our overseas offices and customers.

Our association as a partner of the DB Schenker network in 2009 was a significant step and advancement for the SB group. Being locally owned and now representing one of the world’s largest logistics organisations has made SB very unique in our market and set a bright future for our people and customers.

How and why was this business established?
At the time we were established, we could see a need for a new customer-focused and innovative freight forwarder who could build a business that employed the best team and offer an experience to customers that would encourage them to keep coming back and be our biggest raving fans. Our business has grown over the past 25 years with this simple philosophy in our minds. In this marketplace growing by referral is a key success factor to any new or established business.

What’s the secret of taking a great idea and turning it into a sustainable business?
We are in a service industry that demands many skills in understanding our customer’s needs and delivering within their expectations. We are challenged every day with finding the right logistics solutions for customers amongst many obstacles and forces that frequently test us. Our people’s ability to face these challenges and find the answers has reinforced our approach to being in business: to be a respected and trusted partner with our people committed to delivering excellence.

What were some of the early challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Starting a business has many challenges and often these are unexpected and outside your control, but how you react under these moments is the true test of our sustainability. I recall the time we chartered a 747 freighter aircraft from Christchurch to Turkey, and we learnt a few hours into the flight that the destination government had disallowed its landing rights. Some quick thinking was required to identify alternative airports during the flight, as well as the necessary ground logistics to move the cargo over land from this new unscheduled stop-over. Ultimately, thanks to the work of our team, the cargo was still delivered on time.

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What is the key to the success of SB Global Logistics?

The key to SB’s success in surviving and flourishing over 25 years has been clearly its people and the strong culture that has been built up over this time. We have stuck to simple plans of growth and included our people in this strategy. The leadership of the company is a key influencer in our success, with clear set objectives and practiced values. Our culture would be described as a fun and energetic team environment, where our people are given responsibility to make decisions each day, as well as the support, encouragement and tools to ensure they can perform.

How has the business changed since it was established in 1990? How have your responded to global trends in the industry?
We have changed in terms of our service offering and have responded by developing a capability to now offer a full suite of logistics services to customers: a “One Stop Shop”. We have learnt from our multi-national partner DB Schenker and like them have a comprehensive list of services that we now specialise in.

Customers now look to us as partners in their supply chain, and expect us to be able to handle not just the transport of goods but many ancillary services including inventory management, quality checking goods, refitting, re-labelling and packing goods, storage and distribution. We are also now experiencing the growth of online sales, where we inventory-manage customer’s goods, pick and pack orders and deliver these items globally.

In 2009 you partnered with DB Schenker – what has this association with an international company brought to the business?
Besides the obvious benefits of having a truly global network, we understand the importance of providing our customers with global reach. That’s why we’re integrated at the heart of our operations, where every touch point in the supply chain counts.

We have the connections on the ground and around the globe to ensure there are always solutions at hand. Plus the benefit of our direct relationship model throughout the network means fewer points of contact, less confusion and clear transparency of cargo throughout its transit.

DB Schenker is the world’s second largest transportation and logistics services provider based on revenues and performance. Being part of this global network has been a huge asset for SB, allowing us to offer consistency of service, security of overseas monies owing to us, and to be part of a global organisation that recognises and practices economic success, social responsibility, and environmental protection.

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You also recently moved to a new premises at Dakota Park. How important is that connection with the airport and transport network?
Our new 5500m2 purpose-built facility at Dakota Park, Christchurch Airport has been a strategic move to provide for our projected growth over the next 10 years. We have bold plans to further establish our handling of perishable cargo on site and this is an important development for SB as we grow and develop this service in line with the expected growth of food and beverage exports from our region.

Our building is well situated, close to main highways with good access in and out. We have also invested in high-level security systems in the building that comply with the regulatory authorities we work with every day.

We have been very happy working with Christchurch Airport, from the design phase of our facility to the final delivery in 2014, and believe that the Dakota Park subdivision has been very well planned and built for the future. We are confident that we will see many more logistics companies choosing sites in this area.

What is your vision for the future of SB Global Logistics?
Our vision is to continue to create a company that delivers great service to exporters and importers and is highly recommended by its customers and suppliers. Our services will continue to diversify and be adaptable to the customer’s needs. We also see ourselves as an organisation where our people are supported, their skills are developed and they feel a strong sense of engagement in the business.

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs looking to develop and launch a new business?
The SB journey has many great stories. The company has a very good record with people and businesses in its community. It has been a journey where we have focused on service and continuous improvement in everything we do. This is the attitude we have each day and making this our clear focus, the results just take care of themselves.

We have always had a clear purpose to be trusted and respected, which has been the foundation of our organisation.

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