Meeting Clients’ Evolving Needs


Eschewing the long-held conventional methods of some Australian manufacturers and shippers, Transtar has created a model which includes its own people in Asia, and revolutionises the way Australians do business.

Hank Meyer founded Transtar in 1986. What was once a backyard operation has grown under his leadership over the last 26 years to include over 160 employees with an integrated management system that is pre-eminent in the industry.

“In terms of growth, we were focused on Australia and New Zealand for the first 22 years of the company’s development; that changed in 2008 prior to the GFC, which is when we made profound changes to the direction of the company by opening a data centre in Shanghai.”

This growth in Asia, begun as a response to come of the challenging workforce environment of the time in Australia, opened Hank’s eyes to the potential for growth that China offered and the groundbreaking model he imagined. “That creation of an office in Shanghai with a dozen people to take pressure off the workforce costs in Australia, as well as an inability to hire people here at that time, was groundbreaking for us.”

Transtar quickly understood how investing in Asia would benefit the company and recognised the service outcomes it could deliver with its own people on the ground. The company began to work toward growth throughout Hong Kong, Shanghai, and other parts of Asia, including Thailand and Singapore.

“The role of our director in Asia, Annie Meyer, who has effectively grown a business from zero to over 90 people and a USD30 million entity in 2012, has been very important,” Hank says. Annie, Hank’s partner in business and in life, embraced the opportunity to lead Transtar’s Asian development with the support and direction of the company’s directors in Australia.

Annie’s key role included determining areas which presented the best opportunities for growth, as well as setting up new business locations in China and bringing in high quality staff to represent the company. “The business identified that Asia was a significant growth opportunity and to do it properly we needed to have our own people there, meaning one of our most senior people in the key position to recruit, negotiate and instil the Transtar culture on behalf of the Board.

“Our intent as a medium sized privately owned Australian business is to own the corridor from Australia and New Zealand going up, to see we are cost competitive in that sector,” says Hank.

Transtar’s clientele certainly see the benefit of the company’s thoroughly integrated solution; the firm’s own people are able to greet customers and visitors in Asia, ensuring only the highest level of service and quality. As of this year, the Asian market accounts for around USD30 million and represents a significant growth sector for the company.

A full suite of services, including sea and air freight, warehousing and distribution solutions, customs, and documentation are offered by the company. In China, Transtar is quickly expanding its 3PL capability, while in Australia and New Zealand, it offers a fully comprehensive distribution and warehousing network using bonded warehouse facilities.

“We’ve recently developed our own pickup and delivery capability in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane,” explains Hank, who anticipates that clients will appreciate Transtar’s “end to end” capabilities. “We control the process from start to finish through our own services, people and facilities.”

Using Transtar’s integrated systems, clients are able to access all of their logistics information through one website login, including information about the movement of products in China through to sign-on-glass capability in Australia – a significant point of differentiation in the market. “The fact that we receive our cargo from China and are running it through our containers into a port where we unpack it at our facilities and deliver it to the premises ourselves, speaks volumes for our service capabilities compared to the balance of the market,” explains Hank. And customers are thrilled with the service and excited to have Transtar working with them, providing a full service solution that would have once had to go through third party providers.

Transtar is truly offering a fresh market proposition and endeavouring to create further opportunities over the coming months in order to offer customers better service than they have ever had before. This service extends to building strong relationship with clients, as Transtar works collaboratively to better understand the business of clients and their specific needs. “Every client is different,” says Hank. “We totally tried to avoid that one-size-fits-all service offering.”

Working together to truly understand a customer’s need and how their business works and moves goods throughout the country, Transtar can create innovative, personalised solutions to save the customer money. By controlling the end to end movement of goods, Transtar can introduce a different approach for customers, removing associated logistics cost from their business while improving their distribution and speed to market.

For example, the old model of product movement was to have goods manufactured outside of Australia and shipped into the country through a single distribution centre (DC) either in Melbourne or Sydney; this model is rapidly becoming redundant in today’s marketplace. “The ability to take costs out of the logistics supply chain requires a shift of thinking from bringing everything in through Sydney for example and trucking all over the country,” explains Hank. And saving money is certainly important in the current landscape of Australia’s logistics industry. While the industry is finding it tough globally, many of the giants continue to thrive, while smaller companies fall casualty to the changing environment due to making moves in the wrong direction or losing industry competitiveness.

While some players fall to bankruptcy or are acquired by the global giants, Transtar continues to grow and thrive due to its competitive and innovative business model. “The old model worked 30 years ago, but not today,” suggests Hank, who says that the greatest challenge for the company lies in finding like-minded people who understand how the landscape has changed and are ready and able to take the steps necessary for their organisations to promote successful and profitable growth in the future.

And growth is what Transtar continues to achieve. Recently, November was a record month in terms of profits for the company, with expected continued growth on the horizon. “We think that the market is limitless for us in terms of the Australia – New Zealand corridor going north,” says Hank.

His plans include growing the company to a 250 million dollar business over the next three years, an undertaking that will be accomplished with further expansion in the firm’s logistics services as well as additional freight business in Asia and other international locations. The market is continuing to evolve, and those that wish to remain competitive need to be thinking about how their businesses are changing and need to look for partners, like Transtar, that are going to help them get there – and the supply chain is a critical part of that equation.

“Our focus,” Hank says, “is to get a close understanding of those businesses, giving them something different and actually helping their businesses grow and survive. Our strength comes from our service being successful for our clients.”

By identifying new growth opportunities and building the company internationally, Transtar has created a new paradigm for logistics customers in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, working to create a more fluid logistics solution which works in the interest of customers to reduce costs and promote success. Its fully integrated logistics services and online portal allow customers to understand every movement their product makes and track each stage with ease.

And by creating a true community with its customers, Transtar can offer what multinational service providers simply cannot – a truly unique, personalised service that works for all our stakeholders.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 19, 2018, 5:29 PM AEDT