People Who Move the World: CLEARFreight
Staff need to be supported by systems that are as innovative and hardworking as they are. Kenji Go and the team at CLEARFreight not only understand this fact, they live by it.
To achieve longevity in logistics, you have to move with the times. For CLEARFreight, which is celebrating 45 years in the industry this year, that means a strategy that retains good people and supports them with industry-leading technology and systems.
Kenji Go, President of CLEARFreight, not only spearheads this people-first strategy, he’s also a product of it. After starting as an entry clerk straight out of college more than 30 years ago, he has now led the company for 15 years into the growth period that it is experiencing today. “I believe in growth because it gives opportunities to our employees. I really do believe in taking care of people.”
The senior management team at CLEARFreight have each been with the company for more than two decades and Go says this commitment to the organization extends all the way to the front lines. “The line people understand customer service but they also understand the business side. We pay above-average compensation and we do this by making sure [everyone is] productive. We have good people but we have to have a good system to complement our good people.”
IT Manager Beto Tecun is another veteran of CLEARFreight. Having worked for the company for 30 years himself, he had experienced a number of system upgrades and migrations, including the move to CargoWise One. He says the previous system lacked the integration that the growing company needed.
“The biggest pain was at the data level, having multiple databases, customers, vendors. We had one accounting system but it was segregated. Customers in different systems made it very difficult,” he says.
Tecun leads a lean team of four, charged with supporting 250 operators worldwide. Most recently, after the major acquisition of Chinese freight forwarder AE Eagle, he had to undertake the onboarding of 12 new offices in four countries, all of which were using different, unconnected databases.
He says the fully integrated system makes his life easier in countless ways. “Once we went into one system, everybody now shares the same data, all departments. We don’t have to do backups anymore for our local databases. Maintaining updates [is another benefit]. CargoWise does a good job at doing that.”
Transitioning AE Eagle to the new system took planning and patience. “This was a monumental task to bring 80 users in 12 offices online at the same time,” says Peter Porse, Executive Vice President of CLEARFreight. On transition day, January 1, 2015, the office was prepared for the worst. “We were on deck at different locations, ready to attack this mayhem day,” he says. “But we sat, basically New Year’s Eve, and the phone didn’t ring. Not once, I’m happy to say.”
Regional Director of AE Eagle, Sherman Li, experienced both sides of the transition and says the outcome has been better integration and improved productivity for his Chinese offices. “It’s very difficult moving to new software after more than 15 years of using another platform. Now it’s much better.”
Li says the EDI and accounting capabilities have given his staff more time to focus on operations. “We don’t have to do double entries and have less human error. The software is so comprehensive. It’s a good tool for marketing, for sales people, and for freight forwarding.”
Both Li and Porse emphasize the importance of supporting their people. “The training is extremely important; you cannot spend enough time on training,” Porse says. “And training is not just teach and tell. [In China], it was quite emotional for me to see the excitement. They were really, really taken by the system and asked a lot of very good questions.”
For Porse, CargoWise One allows CLEARFreight to push home its competitive difference. “It comes down to communication. Phones and emails yes, but it’s really system communication that we’re trying to sell and that’s where we have CargoWise. Full connectivity that goes seamlessly.”
Kenji Go’s wife likes to joke that he looks happiest on Sunday afternoons. “I look forward to going to work. I look forward to interacting with my people, I look forward to the challenges and I’m always thinking about what I can do to make CLEARFreight better,” he says.
Given the loyalty of his staff and longevity of the company, it’s clear he’s not the only one.