It has been eight months
since Jan Krems came to Chicago and took up the reins at United Cargo,
leading the company back to the future with his own special combination
of air cargo knowledge and enthusiasm bolstered by a stellar career in
top management posts at KLM and AF/KL/MP Cargo.
Right now, as 2015 crawls out of a deep freeze
in the U.S., Jan is up and working every day before sun up, uniting the
world inside the airline with the huge global customer base the carrier
serves with its air cargo offering.
“I’m in office every day at 0600.
“That way I have an opportunity to contact
people all over the world and to keep tabs on our cargo business with
limited interruptions,” Jan said.
“I like to speak personally with five customers
each day if possible. By connecting in this way, nothing is assumed or
taken for granted by our customers or us.
“If one thing is a constant during all
my years in air cargo, it is that personal contact eliminates most misunderstandings.
It’s not about ‘Show me the money’ or ‘How are
we doing?’ but rather ‘I am available to work with you one-on-one:
no confusion and no excuses.’”
“Everybody at United Cargo is quite positive
looking at near-term and longer-term business prospects ahead.
“The tough part is that business recovery
is not operating full tilt in all countries, so it’s a challenge
to predict which markets will perform better than others. So we are positioning
ourselves as business accelerates out of Europe with the dollar strengthening
versus the Euro.
“There are positive signs in pharma overall
and from Asia to Latin America among other markets as well.
“The West Coast of the U.S. has been very
strong with the effects of the port strike, and with eight-week backlogs
still in place the benefits to air cargo are continuing.
“Our focus is now on building partnerships
with new customers who have recently transitioned from sea freight. We
have the capacity to continue to move these goods, so we’re doing
all we can to reverse the longstanding trend toward ocean. We think we
have the opportunity to retain some of that business now that these customers
have experienced the benefits of air freight.”
“Our business is advancing quite well in
2015—in fact, better than expected thanks to a growing, loyal customer
base that recognizes the effort of a truly dedicated team here at United
“We saw the first signs of the turnaround
during the second half of 2014 as we recovered from the difficulties of
implementing our new UC360 technology system. We switched from our excessive
internal focus and put our attention more toward our customers and our
“With these issues behind us, we took the
opportunity to get a better story out to our customer base. Customers
responded to our ‘back to the basics’ message since we based
that target on what they told us we needed to do.
“All these efforts led to a momentum shift
as United Cargo began to reassert itself in our customary role as a quality
provider in the marketplace.
“We have rebuilt United Cargo from the
bottom up with our team solidly focused on creative solutions, despite
continuing over-capacity and declining yields. With GDP growth pegged
at 3 to 3.5 percent, and capacity growth above that, the only way to succeed
is to get your house and message in order—so that’s what we
“We offer our service partners a complete
menu of value-added products and the ability to deliver. I have learned
that customers will stay with your offering as long as you keep close
enough to them so you can not only serve but [also] anticipate their needs.
And of course you need to be able to execute operationally and keep your
“We recently held our Annual Worldwide
Cargo Meeting with over 300 of our employees, service partners, and sales
partners. I was really impressed with the level of enthusiasm the team
showed, and the most exciting thing is our 2015 business plan contains
so many new elements.
“We will soon begin rolling out the first
new brand concept for United Cargo in many, many years. We have a new
service that really allows us to optimize our great network—this
enables us to say ‘yes’ to business we have had to say ‘no’
to in the past. And our Revenue Management team has developed and begun
rolling out a number of innovative tools that will make us the industry
leaders in this area.
“There’s only one path to success
in our industry: you must be better than your competition in your service
offering, your customer relationships, and your delivery of quality and
value. That in a nutshell is United Cargo’s goal and purpose in
2015,” Jan Krems declared.
“Simply put, we are improving everyday—from
our operational performance to the quality and quantity of our customer
contact. We have reorganized our leadership, we have some new faces with
fresh ideas and we have empowered everyone in the organization to think
about better ways of doing things. We say that ‘business as usual’
at United Cargo is an unusual level of attention to detail and service.
Customer satisfaction is job one because we only succeed when our customers