Q: As a newcomer to the industry, what are your impressions, good and bad?
A: Schlanger: On the good side, it is a delight to have the opportunity to lead the 50,000 people at CEVA who provide a full range of services to our customers every day, all around the world. The range of these activities and the depth and breadth of our services are absolutely incredible and that was a real and pleasant surprise to me, as was the importance of these activities to our customers. They need for us to be excellent every day so that they can fulfill their obligations to their customers. This is something that has really impressed me.
From a negative standpoint, there are some customers that appear to not value our service, or at least they won't admit to us how important we are to their success. This business is a lot more than just moving product from point A to point B. We provide a full range of value-added services that allow our customers to grow their businesses.
Q: It is rather unusual to have someone from a different industry come in to run a global 3PL. What are the advantages to that situation?
A: Schlanger: I think it is fair to say this industry has been somewhat insular and somewhat insulated and bringing in someone from outside the industry would seem to reflect a desire to bring in new ideas, new approaches. Of course, a great deal of specific and in-depth knowledge is required when you think about the vast range of services a company like CEVA provides -- everything from air to ocean to road to IT solutions to customs brokerage and more. But we have 50,000 logistics experts within CEVA and one less - meaning me - isn't going to make that much of a difference. Hopefully, I can bring some fresh ideas and new concepts that will help us be a better supplier to our customers.
Q: As you talk with CEVA's customers, what are they asking for?
A: Schlanger: They are under incredible pressure because growth around the world clearly is not what we would all want it to be. That means our customers have to work very hard to grow their bottom line and the supply chain is one place they can make progress on that front. And that's where a company like CEVA can have tremendous impact. Our value covers a full range of services, a full range of analysis and a full range of design relative to our customers' supply chains. So we are not just talking with customers about the cost of moving a pallet from one location to another, but whether that pallet needs to move at all, or whether the locations are where they should be, or whether it should not be on a pallet but in another type of container. At CEVA we have created an internal consulting practice we call Tiger Teams where we sit down with customers and actually design their supply chain. We look from the front end to the back end and see how to design a supply chain that creates value and that allows them to better serve their customers, which helps them grow.
Q: I know you are based in Amsterdam. What is your outlook for the European economy?
A: Schlanger: The European economy is rough. I don't think anyone is happy with the state of the economy, particularly in southern Europe. Everyone knows the problems there, which have migrated a little toward northern Europe. But I am optimistic for the long term because I see an energy revolution in America - the availability of low-cost energy coming about through the use of new technologies to develop oil and gas properties. That is going to revitalize the U.S. economy and create jobs in America which will lead to increased consumer spending And the one thing I have seen during the course of my business career is that when the U.S. consumer starts buying, it raises the economic level around the world. I also see a rapidly growing middle class in various places around the world and that middle class will demand the kinds of goods and services that we enjoy in the U.S. and Europe, which will fuel a bright future for logistics suppliers like CEVA. So I am very optimistic about the future.
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