Global Focus, Local Approach
When Peter Vaughan launched Worldwide Forwarding Network in 1994, he says it felt like jumping off a cliff. Keeping his overheads low, he opened up his first office in a bedroom of the house he rented for his young family, bought a fax machine and a mobile phone on his American Express Card, and set about turning 22 years of experience and contacts into a successful freight forwarding company.
“I had worked on both sides of the fence so I knew that what importers and retailers needed was for us to fit seamlessly into their company, and effectively become their shipping department.” Vaughn says. “The main problem was that we were a young company and it looked really insecure from a client perspective, so we had to focus on reliability and build our reputation.”
It was Vaughn’s reputation as a reliable business associate which won him his first few contracts, and ultimately a partnership with the Dimerco group, giving Worldwide Forwarding Network a crucial initial link with the US market.
“In this industry, relationships need to be very strong,” says Vaughn. “Your international partners need to be able to trust you to pay your bills on time, and also be committed to mutual sales development so that you’re selling their market while they are selling yours.”
So while the initial free fall was enough to inspire vertigo, Vaughn says he made the jump from employee to entrepreneur with a parachute of experience and relationships.
“It was like jumping off a cliff with a parachute rather than jumping off with bricks tied to your feet.”
From the very beginning Vaughn identified cash flow as a key factor to his success, and sought technologies which would enable him to stay on top of his accounts, ahead of his payment terms, and provide customers with reliable quotes.
“We began using emails and the internet from about 1995, and began using software called Deliverance in about 1997, then later we switched over to CargoWise ediEnterprise when it was released,” Vaughn says. “I could see that it would reduce our overheads if we began to use the software system to handle as many processes as possible, from quotes all the way through transaction processing.”
“In early days, it was all about faxes and manual processing, but by 1997, ninety-four per cent of our transactions were electronic.”
As an early adopter of electronic processing, Worldwide Forwarding Network was able to punch above its weight, and expand its customer base without significantly expanding its overheads, or headcount. At the same time it freed up Vaughn to expand the geographical base and service offerings. In 2000 Worldwide Forwarding Network opened offices in Melbourne, in 2003 it diversified into customs brokerage, and in 2008 started up a new branch in Brisbane, strategically using software to grow while maintaining high levels of customer support.
“The ediEnterprise system does the order tracking right through to the ultimate delivery cycle,” Vaughn says. “We use it because it gives us what we need, the order tracking, the operational, the accounting, the administration, the warehousing, and now the customer’s got the website access as well; I can’t ask for more than that.“
Now operating across three offices in Australian with thirty-four full time staff, the company has maintained its global partnership with Dimerco Express Corporation, effectively providing Worldwide Forwarding Network a network of 145 offices around the world, and the collective knowledge of 1900 staff.
“We’ve grown organically by increasing the number of customers and the amount of work we do for each customer, so we’ve got a very solid base, a great relationship with our service providers like banks, and access to an international network of freight forwarders,” Vaughn says. “It’s the way the industry has grown using electronic communication allows us to support our clients so that our customers feel comfortable ringing us and know we will operate as an extension of their own company.”