Mr. Walter George
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Walter, please tell us about the establishment and history of Neptune. What is your main line of business in shipping & logistics?
Neptune was conceptualized and created in 1990 by the two brothers Dilip Ahuja and Sanjay Ahuja, when they were running a freight broking company started by their father Mr. Vashdev Ahuja called Vashusons. Vashusons still continues to run as one the leading freight brokers, handling mainly agricultural commodities in breakbulk and containers, including reefers.
Neptune started with consolidation and went on to add multiple activities like 3PL, buyers consolidation, special cargo handling, SOC box operation and container trading (being the buying and selling of containers). Under the SOC box operations, we also have special equipment like open tops and flat racks. Our main area of business for the SOC operations is South East Asia and the Middle East. Container trading activity has now developed into a global operation due to our various overseas / international alliances.
Who owns the company?
India is booming but competition, I presume, in logistics is also booming. How do you stand out among so many competitors in India and what do you believe is your advantage?
Our tagline is ‘Yes It’s Possible’ and this is what we strive to achieve. Our customers have faith in our ability to provide them with solutions in most complex situations. All our customers know that we do the same as a lot other logistics service providers, but they also know that we do it the way they want it and we guide them correctly. This is what keeps them coming back to us and this is what keeps us going.
Tell us about inland transportation in India. We understand that it has developed now in recent years and the infrastructure is progressively being improved. What kind of pitfalls exist currently (if any) when doing inland transport in India and what kind of good advice can you give to would-be customers before shipping anything with its final destination inland?
India is a large country and inland transportation is the key to its economic growth, as most industries are located in the hinterland. In the last few years, there has been great progress made in road and rail transport, though we would expect it to be even better and quicker soon. But then, this is a large country with a huge population and one of the largest democracies. So, this makes it even more challenging for various infrastructure projects to be implemented.
This also presents a huge number of opportunities for project logistics companies to participate and use their expertise. Though there is still scope for more improvement in the road and rail infrastructure, we have a long way to go in developing our inland waterways. India has a large coastline and multiple ports too. We also have many large rivers which are navigable and have potential for cargo movement too. This will help the ships reach closer to the cargo and will also play a big role in the country’s economic development. A start has already been made and the community is looking forward to taking this forward and reaping the benefits.
A good tip for customers shipping their goods to their final destinations in India would be to choose the right forwarder / partner and understand the geography and local trade practices of the country, which is one of the most diverse countries in the world. This will help them make correct and proper commitments.
India has many ports and I guess the most well-known is Mumbai. But can you give us a quick overview of the main ports of India being used for containers and project cargo? If there is a choice between two ports located close to each other, could you advise our readers which one would be preferable?
As mentioned before, India has a large coastline and various functional ports, with Nhava Sheva near Mumbai being the largest container port and Mumbai Old Port leading in breakbulk cargo handling. The other major ports active in the container and project cargo are Mundra, Kandla, Chennai, Vizag, Kolkata and Cochin. Other than these, there are smaller ports like Marmagoa, Mangalore, Kakinada, Paradip etc handling active container and bulk cargo. Indian industries are widely spread across the country and any port closest to it will be the first choice. Though where there are areas where the customer could have an option between two ports, there will be various factors determining the bet one over the other. With the right forwarder in India, they can be well guided. One of the factors to be considered would be ‘frequency’ of sailing.
Could you provide us with some examples of project cargoes that you have handled?
We have handled several Project shipments and to name a few significant ones:
- Nhava Sheva to Sohar – Transformers
- Nhava Sheva to Kazakhstan – Oil Drilling Equipment
- Jebel Ali to South Africa – Transformers
- Italy to Iraq – Refinery Plant
- Vizag to Oman – Furnace Tilting Platform
- Mundra to Iraq – Refinery Plant
Can you tell us a bit about customs clearance in India? Also, can you give us a few golden rules of thumb?
Customs clearance in India is indeed complex, as not all operations are automated and manual interventions are still needed. Also, Tax and Duty structures need to be interpreted well. It will be best for customer to provide as much details of the product with correct valuation at the Planning stage.
Tell us about your own career in shipping? When did you start and what is your background?
I am a commerce graduate with a management degree in marketing. I started my journey in shipping and logistics in 1992 and went on to work with major agency houses in India, representing carriers like K line, Zim lines and Himalaya Express lines. I gained immense knowledge of the liner business from some very knowledgeable industry veterans who are responsible for my position today. I moved over to freight forwarding and logistics in the year 2003 and have been with Neptune since 2004. I’m proud to be part of various growth stories at Neptune.
How to get in touch with you?
My contact details are as below:
Mobile: +91 9820 037 871