23 November 2023

Mainfreight Korea Interview from Korea Forwarder Times | Edward Son, our Country Manager in Korea

As a global supply chain logistics company, we offer comprehensive services leveraging our global network advantage. Recently, Edward Son, our Country Manager in South Korea, was invited to participate in an interview with a logistics magazine. Please reach out the following content of the interview and learn more about the logistics industry in Korea and how Mainfreight can support your business in this area.

Please reach out the following content of the interview and learn more about the logistics industry in Korea and how Mainfreight can support your business in this area.

Question 1: Please introduce your headquarters.

Answer: Mainfreight is a comprehensive logistics company that was established in Auckland, New Zealand in 1978. For the past 45 years, we have continuously developed logistics solutions and provided services tailored to our customers' needs. 

Beyond culture and language, Mainfreight provides value beyond service to customers worldwide. We are currently ranked 30th in global forwarder rankings and hold the unrivaled number 1 position as a logistics company in New Zealand. In the ranking of all New Zealand companies, we stand at 6th in market capitalization with a total of $56 trillion. 

Operating 331 branches in 26 countries globally and employing 11,311 individuals, we provide a full spectrum of logistics services, including warehouse storage, domestic and international transportation, and specialized warehouse, maritime, and air services designed to meet the unique market conditions of each region, addressing the diverse needs of our customers.

Question 2:
When did you enter Korea and how does the headquarters view the potential of the Korean market?

Answer: Mainfreight Korea officially launched its Seoul office on April 13, 2020. Prior to our official entry into the Korean market, all services were provided through designated agencies.

We offer comprehensive services across various industries, handling logistics for importing processed meat and dairy products from New Zealand and Australia into Korea, as well as overseas export of automobile parts, electronic products, and pharmaceuticals. Recognizing limitations in the agency-based business model, we decided to formally enter the market in 2020 to integrate Mainfreight's services into the logistics framework.

Question 3: Please introduce the logistics functions and services provided.

Answer: Mainfreight's logistics services are primarily divided into land transportation services, air & ocean forwarding services, and warehouse storage & distribution services.

Regarding land transportation, various services are offered depending on the country. These include FTL / LTL transportation, tanker truck operation, trunk truck operation in the dock, and the transportation of dangerous goods.

For air and sea transport, we provide general cargo forwarding, cross-docking, transportation of dangerous goods and pharmaceuticals, as well as customs clearance and related services.
Lastly, in the case of warehouse storage services, we establish warehouses at strategic locations in each country and region using our own WMS system. This significantly contributes to efficient inventory management and optimized working capital operations for our customers.

Question 4: What do you think are the advantages of Mainfreight?

Answer: Mainfreight's headquarters is in New Zealand, with over 90 branches and approximately 3,000 team members in the country. In Australia, there are over 70 branches and more than 2,000 team members. When considering both global and local logistics companies, it's likely that no other company on the Oceania continent boasts over 5,000 team members and 160 offices and warehouses.

Mainfreight's strength lies in its robust service throughout the Oceania continent. Moreover, the company is heavily investing in the logistics IT field. The self-developed Mainchain system enables users to access all cargo flow and logistics statistics by country of shipment, providing essential data for KPI and QBR purposes.

Question 5: The corporate culture seems to be quite advanced in some ways, so honestly, I think there are some parts that don't fit with Korean sentiment.

Answer: Yes, I think there may be a sense of advancement in our culture, especially within the Asian environment, including Korea. For instance, one of our traditions involves the story behind the Mainfreight Apples. While it's not common in Korea to give apples as gifts, presenting them in well-packaged form during holidays such as ‘Chuseok’ and ‘Lunar New Year’ aligns with Korean etiquette. Therefore, Korea has also adopted the Mainfreight tradition of delivering apples during these holidays. As I mentioned earlier, Mainfreight's organizational culture is proactive and treats all team members equally. While there were historical differences between continents and countries, our approach aligns with recent corporate culture trends. With the rise of remote work post-pandemic, our independent system without an HR department has proven to be a strength in the forwarding industry. Our long-standing unique culture fosters strong ownership, leading everyone to take responsibility for their roles. Although this wasn't our initial aim, it appears to be a natural phenomenon.

Question 6: What regions are services from Korea mainly specialized in? Also, what are the service competitiveness points?

Answer: Korea specializes in imports and exports to and from the Oceania continent, as well as trade with the Americas. Mainfreight USA boasts over 1,300 team members across more than 80 branches, allowing us to effectively serve a diverse range of customers. Moreover, we continue to develop distinctive solutions in Eastern Europe and Asia.

Our competitive edge lies in warehousing, land, and sea transportation services. Most of our warehouses are directly established and operated by Mainfreight, offering differentiated services through our dedicated team members who also manage vehicles. In terms of ocean freight services, we excel in providing excellent services with advantageous contracts and competitive freight rates with various shipping lines.

Question 7:  What are your future plans and goals in the Korean market?
Answer: Our aim is to establish a warehouse within the next two to three years to offer not only air and ocean services but also a variety of warehouse-related services. However, we plan to proceed cautiously due to the current logistics market instability caused by rapid economic changes. Mainfreight Korea intends to make future investments while carefully monitoring market volatility.

The link to the original interview with Edward Son, Mainfreight Korea Country Manager in the Korean language, by Korea Forwarder Times.

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