March 2020 will be a month that we will not easily nor quickly forget.
Despite all the measures that the Dutch government took, The Netherlands also was getting infected by this horrible virus.
First, the number of diagnosed patients started slowly but this changed rapidly and in no time, we went from 10 patients to 500 patients and it became clear that we were facing a new era.
On March 12, the government announced the Lock-Down. A so-called Intelligent Lock-Down.
And from this point, as all over the world, the economic situation in our country changed. Many sectors were affected by this virus. Milestone was already affected by several lockdowns in Asia meaning that volumes from there decreased from February figures. After Chinese New Year, the volume never recovered back to normal.
However, February to May is also a big peak-season for Milestone Fresh for fresh melons and mangoes from Costa Rica to Rotterdam.
Also, our flower airfreight export was a sector hit extremely hard.
As countries around us went into a full Lock-Down there suddenly was a big decrease in demand.
The airfreight carriers were forced to suspend most of their fleets due to a lack of traffic.
Our legendary flowers, the pride of our countries exports was suddenly facing their biggest challenge for decades. Flowers cultivated in greenhouses from all over the world were shipped to Aalsmeer Auction and from there, shipped throughout the globe.
The Dutch exporters were tearing their hair out as there were no sales of the flowers brought in for auction and when the clocks hit the 'sell-by' date, these beautiful flowers had to be destroyed.
Also, for us as horticultural airfreight specialists, this was a disaster.
At a time when Mother's Day is celebrated in several countries, this was normally our busiest month, but in fact, there were almost no shipments.
Normally, when the volumes are as low as this, the carriers usually have good space availability, but this was not the case as the number of flights being operated was reduced by the lines and the airfreight prices, therefore, climbed substantially leading to an aggressive market where rates went up per day and so, finding space to move product at a reasonable price, became almost impossible.
This was a similar situation we encountered with our PPE shipments later.
When we started shipping face masks from China, we faced many different challenges, one of them, the aggressive market with rates escalating and going up to 15.00 US$ per kg!
A crazy time, but we wished that would have been the only challenge, as China changed the regulations for the export of medical products and with that, increased the inspections, thereby creating a big backlog at the Chinese Airports which of course disrupted the supply chain flow.
Luckily, at the end of 2018, we changed to a new digital infrastructure for our offices. Our new operational software, new rate management tools, and various EDI connections with our suppliers has during this difficult time, enabled us to work paperless from wherever we are, aiding us to be ready to respond to your requests super-fast!
During the coming weeks, our electronic management system will be rolled out on our website for our partners, where they can apply and receive automatically generated quotations instantly. The system will operate 24/7 dealing with bookings and status updates.
Despite the Covid-19 disaster, we have been looking at various options.
By being creative and innovative we have been able to beat our budget so far. Our results over the first 4 months of 2020 are better than the results over the same period last year. And just think, without the Corona pandemic, the results would have gone through the roof!
THE MILESTONE NETHERLANDS TEAM - GOING THE EXTRA MILE
We are aware that with all these challenges we have been demanding a lot of our staff, having to set up a home-work-environment. Many of our people have been working from their home address, and the multi-tasking went to another dimension. Besides the daily job of the freight forwarder, we suddenly changed into being talented hairdressers, schoolteachers, and licensed shrinks. We are proud of every single team member; everybody is contributing to the best of their abilities to keep our company focused on our key elements 'Going the Extra Mile!' An important principle for success in anything in life, is the willingness to do just that little bit extra. For us, this means a willingness to make a positive impact, more and better than is expected of you.
Milestone Logistics Netherlands, with offices in Rotterdam & Amsterdam, has been a member of our G7 and X2 Cold Chain Networks since 2017.
We'd like to thank Peter van der Klift and Juri Falandt for sharing this success story and we wish them continuing successes in this year and beyond.
Milestone has branches in Alajuela in Costa Rica, Guatemala City, & San Pedro Sula in Honduras, & Bangkok, Thailand.
See more about them their website at https://www.milestonelogistics.nl/en