Bridging the Gap
Greendoor Group is not merely helping to meet the demand for logistics across the rapidly advancing African continent – it is doing so by delivering the highest quality transport services which always put the customer first
Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Lewis Bush
May 2019 was a landmark month in the scheme of Africa’s heightening development ambitions.
It marked the inauguration of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the world’s largest free trade area since the WTO, that promises to accentuate the opportunities made available by the region’s rapidly expanding infrastructure, growing supply chains, broadening distribution networks and advancing mobility.
Indeed, owing to the continent’s widespread emphasis on economic integration, these opportunities are now plentiful.
According to the IMF, intraregional imports as a share of total imports has almost tripled in the past two decades, now valued at approximately $100 billion.
And that number is expected rise further against the backdrop of the AfCFTA, meaning the future for local logistics players like Greendoor Group looks incredibly bright.
“Logistics is ever changing; no day is ever the same,” explains Richard Hall, the company’s Chief Operating Officer. “It certainly keeps us on our toes. Back when we first started going into the DRC in 2008, there were long stretches of dirt and even one climb where trucks had to be towed by a wrecker.
“Fast forward 12 years, and the roads are now mostly tarred. Challenges remain of course, but trade has become much easier.”
Founded in 2006 by Ken Hall (Richard’s father), Greendoor Group set out to bridge the gap in cross-border transport, meeting the rising demand for reliable service providers.
And it has been succeeding in its mission. Today, the firm specialises in the transport of containerised and breakbulk cargo between Durban, South Africa and Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Katanga Province of the DRC and beyond.
“We have always concentrated on the southern parts of the DRC with Kolwezi being our northernmost reach there,” the COO adds. “In Zambia, meanwhile, we are focused on the Copperbelt Province and in the last couple of years have travelled further northwest into Solwezi, as well as exploring Angola and Mozambique at the request of our clients.”
Going the extra mile
It is this latter point that speaks volumes of Greendoor Group’s culture.
By Hall’s own admission, the company prides itself on being a client-focused enterprise, delivering on promises and backing the growth of its customers.
“We have always worked on personal touches and relationships, trying to understand what makes our clients tick,” he affirms. “We consider it highly important to know exactly what is expected of us before making any promises so that we are able to deliver the highest levels of satisfaction across every endeavour.”
Such is not only achieved through the company’s staunch values that include high ethical standards, integrity, reliability and proactive, open communication, but likewise because of its state-of-the-art fleet.
Each truck is fitted with 24-hour real time satellite tracking technologies, providing overriding visibility to the benefit of Greendoor Group’s own operational efficiency and for the peace of mind of its customers.
Further, the company offers a range of other value-added solutions including customs entries, bureau inspection valuation assessment control assistance, and warehousing and packaging at its strategically located sites in Johannesburg, Lusaka and Chingola.
As this expansive portfolio suggests, fleet and technological improvements are forever on the company’s radar, striding to find new ways in which its service offering can be bolstered.
And alongside the aforementioned, Hall is able to point to a number of other alternative, growth-related investments which are currently being pursued.
“We are hoping to purchase land in the Zambia Copperbelt in order to better service the region and use this as a springboard into the DRC,” he states. “Launching an extensive servicing centre for our fleet is also in our sights as it continues to grow, as is the installation of solar panels at our South African and Zambian depots to reduce reliance on the grid.”
Working collaboratively towards renewed goals
These are undeniably sound ambitions given the current trajectory of the regional economy. However, they are not only focus of the company’s current efforts.
Much like its emphasis on developing and maintaining great relationships with its customers, Greendoor Group equally ensures it maintains similarly fruitful ties with its staff and suppliers.
Hall explains: “Our workforce is very important to us, as our whole ethos is built around our family business structure.
The environment here is a happy and exciting one – our low employee turnover indicates that people enjoy working here and are motivated to come and deliver great services every day.
“Likewise, being a transporter, we rely heavily on our relationships with supply chain companies. That includes those who cater to relevant mines in both Zambia and the DRC, as well as our own suppliers and service providers.”
Staying on the subject of important parties, talk then turns to a fourth critical facet for the company – catering to the needs of the communities in which Greendoor Group operates.
While the company’s leading logistics have helped to transform many a business in the region, a major part of its remit also includes contributing to the local landscape in wider ways, a recent example of this approach being its sponsorship of the Zambian Golf Open.
“We have been able to give back to the people of Kitwe via this sponsorship,” Hall states, “something that we want to continue to do moving forward.”
But what of the organisation’s other ambitions for 2020 and beyond?
First and foremost, its primary priority will be consolidating Greendoor Group’s position as the flagship cross-border transport company servicing South Africa.
Alongside this, however, broadening the firm’s horizons into new markets is a particularly promising prospect and one which the COO is able to express buoyant optimism about.
“As I mentioned, we are very keen on furthering our footprint in Angola and Mozambique,” he reiterates.
“In the DRC meanwhile, the consensus is that exports will likely double in 2020 – a boom that will obviously be very positive for us and we hope that a fair share of it will exit through South Africa.
“Overall, we have always had a very positive outlook from year to year and I think that attitude has brought us to where we are today. It is very easy to sit and complain about anything in life, but a lot harder to go out and make a real difference.”