Fargo Courier has grown exponentially over the past 15 years from humble beginnings, to now boast an award-winning, market leading array of supply chain services
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Vivek Valmiki
Established in 2003 as a sister company to Wells Fargo Limited, Fargo Courier has harnessed the same integral values to rapidly become a market leader across areas of express courier, document archiving, secure logistics and warehousing, office and household relocation services.
Narrowed down to three core divisions of courier, logistics and warehousing, these elements integrate effectively to make the Company a supply chain entity of choice across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Operations Director, Gray Cullen further introduces: “Fargo Courier currently has more than 100 office locations spread across Kenya and now in Uganda. We also have a strategic partnership with DHL Express and other East African logistics entities for international courier which has helped us with delivery to global destinations.
“Our strategy is unusually market-driven with client referrals being our biggest seller. You will never see a Fargo Courier billboard! We venture into partnerships that deliver value to our services and growth forecast. Equally crucial for us is to ensure that we observe the highest level of ethics and integrity in our dealings.”
Fargo Courier subsequently ensures that each partnership, project and operation adheres to best practice principles, which is largely assured by keeping the customer at the centre of all considerations.
Working closely with each client, a more flexible and customisable approach is facilitated through a dedicated team of relationship managers, which then transpires in the form of heightened innovation from system interfaces to outsourced retail outlets.
Cullen continues: “This explains Fargo Courier’s comparatively rapid growth for the period it has been in existence. We are keen to remain innovative and ahead of our competition against a backdrop of technological and infrastructural developments.
“We continue to position ourselves as the premium alternative in this industry across the spectrum supporting organisations of all sizes but with a main focus on the SMEs. A wonderful success story we are proud to mention at this point is a solar giant, M-Kopa.
“They approached us seven years ago as a small venture with not even an office worth of goods in storage and a tiny courier account. Today we run four dedicated warehouses with a product assembly line, 52 retail outlets and a distribution to serve such a vast solar empire. The truth is we do not know who the next M-Kopa will be!
“Today we are a large multinational business but with a small company mentality.”
In being a non-bureaucratic business, quicker decision-making capabilities add to its overall flexible ethos; an attribute that seamlessly transfers to all prospective partners and clients as well as allowing the business to move very quickly onto market opportunities.
Growth, innovation and leadership
Fargo Courier’s current, prominent market positioning is all the more remarkable given the relatively short period of time in which it has evolved. Initiating with just two offices, two land cruisers, four motorcycles and 16 members of staff in 2003, the Company has grown exponentially over the subsequent 15 years to 100 offices, 315 vehicles (95 of which are motorcycles), and warehousing in 30 locations. “Our head office has also grown from a small office space in 2003 to the current 200,000 square feet storage and distribution facility,” Cullen adds. “With this growth over the years, we have been able to diversify from exclusively doing distribution to the other service lines like warehousing, storage, dedicated outsourced retail sites, office and household relocations, dedicated resources, mailroom and messenger services.”
Cullen goes on to pinpoint efficiency and integrity as two overriding values to have catalysed this development, continuously investing in more robust systems in tandem with changing operational demands. In fact, no external funding has been required to propel Fargo’s progression as it has been purely organic.
Cullen adds: “Fargo Courier attained ISO 9001:2015 certification and endeavours to promote best practices and excellence in its operations. We were also recognised in 2016 as the best courier company in East Africa in Growth, Leadership and Innovation through an independent study conducted by Frost & Sullivan for Growth, Innovation and Leadership within the Courier industry.
“Fargo Courier also won the prestigious Gold Award at the Logistics Achievers Award held in South Africa in the same year. It was an Africa-wide award incorporating entries from across global logistics and that made it all the more rewarding.”
Ultimately and pivotally from a business perspective, the upshot of this recognition is an increase in attained projects and contracts, where Fargo can then showcase its personability and industry acumen amid fluctuating customer trends and requirements.
“Once a prospect is established, a detailed proposal is sent to the client with all information on our services and rates,” says Cullen, explaining the beginning of the process. “Recently we have had an increase in contracts in electronics and high value goods distribution. At the moment we are interfacing with three leading ecommerce firms to enhance order fulfilment.
“We are further investing in a new CRM to improve inter-business communication. There is also an additional investment in 12 more vehicles this year to upgrade our fleet and five retail outlets to expand our retail footprint.”
The distribution partner of choice
Fargo Courier’s client-centric investments have recently included the deployment of warehouse ERP or WMS and courier ERP systems to integrate with clients’ own operations, compounded by further advanced technologies including a fleet management system providing real-time updates.
New additions to the vehicle fleet, upgrades to Fargo’s facilities, an increased focus on automation and improved optimisation of online services all epitomise the Company’s willingness to diversify in accordance with modern expectations.
And complementing each and every introduction and innovation, is an equally considered human resources strategy to make sure that the best minds are enabling such investments.
“There is an HR Policy as per ISO standards that guides recruitment and thereafter training - both internally and externally - in areas of operations, health & safety, and leadership,” Cullen details.“The HR policy focuses on internal promotions and empowering employees from within. This helps in building employee loyalty and as a result staff turnover is less than two percent annually.
“Additionally, Fargo Courier believes in mentoring junior employees into senior roles to achieve energy and vibrancy in its operations. Fargo Courier also has a recognition programme that rewards the outstanding contributions by employees in various aspects within the organisation. Currently more than half of the staff managing our branch network as Branch Managers joined as entry level couriers and rose through the ranks.
“It is also worth mentioning that there is significant gender inclusivity across all roles with women getting equal opportunities and rising through the ranks on merit.”
Cullen attributes the Company’s youthful, energetic workforce (being only 34 himself) – alongside its sheer scale and volumes - as one of Fargo’s key differentiators. And given the growth, awards and recognition achieved in recent years, it’s fair to suggest that the business hasn’t finished developing yet.
Cullen concludes: “Fargo Courier has more than 15 years of experience in East Africa and is a trusted partner in the provision of customised courier services and logistics. We have one of the largest networks of branches and resources, delivering to more than 1,400 contracted clients; and through our innovative products, we now hope to be the distribution partner of choice for both contract clients and the informal cash market. We also look forward to a shift in the market mentality leading to more organisations outsourcing all supply chain functions.
“Additionally, we look forward to more stringent regulations by the courier regulator, the Communications Authority of Kenya to better enforce service and security standards in the distribution sector as well as facilitating a meaningful address system for all the players within Kenya.”