Mr. Branko Butala
Director and General Manager
We’ve interviewed Comark before in connection to your cooperation with Liburnia. Today, we focus on a very important aspect of shipping, i.e. seaworthy and export packing and crating. When and why did you start offering seaworthy packaging services?
I’m glad you’ve picked this important step in the logistics chain to discuss. The idea of offering seaworthy packing and crating to our clients goes way back, almost ten years. There was one project back then that showed us the real potential of this service. The first crate was made from the ground up at the cargo’s location and we had no idea what we were doing. We were improvising! To be on the safe side, we used a lot more wood and other materials than needed for protection. Once the project was finished, I said to myself, “I have to find a partner or at least [gain] the know-how!”
So, to answer your question of why, it’s because the Slovenian market was screaming for professional seaworthy and export packing and crating. Another aspect was that this service perfectly aligns with our core business of oversized transport. Our search for the right partner ended in 2014 when we had rented a small workshop in Črnomelj and started transferring experience. Since then, we have built a constantly growing base of domestic clients and orders. Now we employ up to forty people in the most modern packing centre in Slovenia, which we had built in 2016.
What kind of official standards exist in the packaging world that one must follow? Are there EU standards or international standards that must be adhered to? How can we trust that the packing is done accordingly?
The most important standard is the international one – ISPM 15. In short, this standard explains how the wood must be treated so it can be used to produce boxes, crates, and bases for international transport.
This is the base of almost all export packing. After that, we add different types of foil and protection. For seaworthy packing, we use aluminium foil, VCI anticorrosion foil, shrink wrap foil and so on. Depending on how delicate the cargo is, we offer tailor-made packing solutions. Sometimes only crating is enough, but in other cases we use crating, seaworthy packing and shrink wrap foil.
Do you organize packing for both direct shippers and other freight forwarders? What kind of facilities do you have to perform seaworthy packing? Isn’t it restricted to where you have such facilities available?
Inquiries come from all sides and we are happy about that. However, as this service must be carried out locally, we have more direct shipper requests. Working with forwarders is sometimes hard as the price for packing is very sensitive and if the chain is too long then we have no chance to get the job.
We offer our clients two options regarding the packing location. One option is to bring the cargo to one of our modern packing facilities in Slovenia (Črnomelj) or Croatia (Zagreb). We prefer this option because all the required tools are within reach (proper forklifts, bridge cranes, compressed air etc.). The second option, very popular with our clients, is that we organize everything so that the packing can be carried out at the shipper’s desired location. We call the service and its workers our Mobile Packing team. For a while now, we have had up to five field teams per day out doing export packing around Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Romania, Hungary and Austria etc.
If a customer in, for example, Slovenia, had a product they needed to import from Italy, but they need it crated there, how would you solve it? What about in other countries? Do you have partners in place or can/will you send your specialists to supervise the job at the customers’ premises?
As mentioned before, we can be competitive in a certain loop around packing centre. It’s just the nature of the business we’re in. In the case you mentioned, we’d use one of our verified packing partners to execute the packing on the desired premises.
We have great trust in our verified partners, so we do not send additional supervisors unless specifically demanded by the client. People are doing business, so trust is essential for a long-term partnership and the same goes for clients. With all the apps available, the information flow from a remote location is very easy!
Do you find that customers are willing to pay for proper packing? Or, rather, do they sometimes try to use companies with lower standards? I suppose that you also have competitors in the field?
That’s a tough one. We know what we are selling, but often the client doesn’t know exactly what they need. We do not take advantage of this, but through proper communication, we try to narrow the options and offer the very best possible tailor-made solution for the challenge.
It would be naive to try to fulfil all the clients’ wishes. We say no to clients who try to minimize the price and maximize the risk of improper export packing. We have high standards and we are not willing to lower them to suit a client’s lack of knowledge at the cost of proper crating/export packing.
Packing, one of the last steps of production and the first in the logistics chain, is too often overlooked and needs urgent solutions. This causes a lot of stress to pre-planned production and field distribution. So, we teach our clients to incorporate the packing in their project management in terms of time and cost.
What’s there to say about competitors? They make us stronger, better and keep us on the edge. Learning from projects and teaching, as well as constant investment into people and equipment, are the requirements for long-term growth and stability.
What kind of plans do you have at Comark to expand this service?
This year we have set an additional covered warehouse that we use for storage, packing, etc. We invested in the reorganization of the outdoor area by asphalting storage of goods ready for loading. In 2018, we also invested in a 10,000 square-meter patch of land across the packing centre which will come in handy in the future. The plans are made, with more to follow. Stay up to date with us and you will see 🙂
What’s the best way to reach you?
For packing inquiries, you can contact us directly to firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our packing specialists will be glad to help you.