Why the perils of operating in Britain’s crowded freight landscape holds no fears for one business owner …
It’s not easy running a transport company. Managing spiralling fuel costs, increasing fleet efficiency, meeting customer demand and satisfying expectations are just some of the challenges faced by Transport Exchange Group members like Barri Amin.
But, curiously, the day-to-day stresses from operating on wafer thin margins, never seem to bother Mr Amin, who founded Timeline Transport, a Hayes-based haulage company, a year ago. That’s because Mr Amin, an Afghan by birth, spent three years operating a freight logistics business in his war-torn homeland before returning to the UK.
Mr Amin, who has been a Haulage Exchange (HX) member since March, explains his motivation. “There has been armed conflict in my country since 1978, but ordinary people who are caught in the middle have no choice but to live through it. I wanted to give something back to my country and my people, and so I set up a haulage company.”
Continues Amin, “I knew that my efforts would not put an end to the war, nor would they heal Afghanistan’s broken transportation infrastructure, but I love my country and I wanted to use all of my training and experience in logistics to help re-build my nation in whatever way I could.”
Mr Amin’s fleet, which was made up of 19 articulated trucks, provided an invaluable link from Kabul to many of Afghanistan’s major cities including Kunduz in the north, Herat in the west and Kandahar in the south of the country.
“It was immensely rewarding work, but extremely dangerous too,” he recalls. “When we delivered food and fuel to the American and the British armies, who we counted as our best customers, we sometimes needed an armed escort.”
However, even then with the protection of the military, Amin and his drivers had to learn to spot the many security risks that continue to plague Afghanistan today, and develop vast reserves of mental fortitude to overcome the fear operating in one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
“When you work in a place where landmines and roadside bombs are all too common, you quickly get used to it, and after a while you learn to cope.”
But, having given his heart, his soul and three years of his working life to his business, Mr Amin decided that he couldn’t do anymore, and left for the UK.
He says, “I was mentally and physically exhausted. However, I am proud of my efforts, and I believe that the experience has made me more resilient and resourceful both as a Transport Manager and as a person. That’s why none of the logistical day-to-day headaches from operating in England really phase me. After all, if you can run a successful freight business in Afghanistan, then I believe that you can thrive anywhere.”
And Timeline Transport is flourishing thanks to the enterprising approach of its owner, who is a member of both the Courier and Haulage Exchange platforms, which he says have given him the confidence to grow his business.
Mr Amin says, “Since joining we’ve gone from strength to strength. We’ve four artics ready to go, as well as eight Luton vans which are already operating. We’re so busy, thanks to CX and HX, that we plan to further expand our fleet next year.”
So how are the Transport Exchange Group’s platforms making a difference to Amin’s business?
“HX has proved its worth in a number of ways. I joined because I wanted win more loads without having to manually trawl through hundreds of pages of haulage distribution lists myself. HX has solved this problem with its smart load matching system. This means that instead of wasting several hours each day on the phone, I can advertise my vehicle’s availability and location, today, tomorrow and next week. The system will then automatically sift through all the loads to find the ones that fit best. It is working well.”
Mr Amin, also likes the fact that HX is “a secure and trusted platform”, which he says “gives him peace of mind that the company posting the load operates to the highest professional standards”.
He explains, “The compliance requirement is effective, without being overly onerous. I say this because there are other platforms which require you to submit your vehicle insurance and liability documents before every single transaction. On HX, however, you simply provide all the relevant paperwork upon joining, and it is held in the system so that other members can always see that you are documents are up to date.”
Amin explains, “The compliance requirement is effective, without being overly onerous. But what I really value is the online feedback system, which on one hand, allows haulage companies to rate my performance, and, on the other hand, it enables me to evaluate theirs. I like the fact too that HX does not use a star rating system. Instead, I can actually access written comments from other members, which provide me with the level of detail that I need to decide whether or not to take on a load.”