( Hong Boon How )
ALTHOUGH the express delivery service business in Malaysia has grown tremendously over the past few years, the image and efficiency of the local operators, unlike their foreign counterparts, have not kept pace with the progress.

GD Express Sdn Bhd managing director and chief executive officer Teong Teck Lean aims to change this by making his company a role model for others to follow.

“We have set up a management system to enable the company to function well even when the chief executive is not available,” he told StarBiz in an interview in Petaling Jaya.

Teong observed that many companies achieved success through the skills of only one top executive.

“We want to have a transparent and documented management system so the company could function without the top executive,” he said, adding that a company must be able “outlive” its top executives.

“Our aim is to have everything documented so that the experience and knowledge gained by the present managers could be used as references by future management teams.”

GD Express, which was set up seven years ago, found itself struggling for survival in a courier industry which was bogged down by price undercutting.

However, a new management team took over the helm in 2000 and transformed the company’s business model to one which emphasised on transparency and efficiency.

“Our mission is to deliver the most trusted and professional express carrier services in Malaysia and we aim to become a market leader and industry role model by providing high quality, value for money and technology-driven express delivery service,” Teong said.

Besides express delivery services, GD Express is also involved in providing customised logistics solutions.

“We are giving more emphasis on the customised logistics solutions services segment which we believe will grow significantly in the coming years,” he said.

The company had been recording double-digit growth in revenue and shipment handling over the last few years and was headed towards “exciting times” this year.

“We are moving further into providing services such as customised solutions which would provide added-value and higher margins,” he said.

According to Teong, the company has repositioned itself to meet the challenges by offering a wide variety of highly customised express delivery and logistics services and supply chain solutions, including logistics management, warehousing and packaging services.

The company was appointed by Federal Express (FedEx) in February 2002 to be its partner in providing express delivery and courier services in areas not covered by FedEx.

GD Express serves more than 20,000 corporate customers, with business activities covering insurance, banking and finance, retail, manufacturing, consumer and industrial products, logistics shipping services, medical and legal services.

GD Express, one of the first domestic express carrier companies to offer Web-based tracking and tracing of shipments, was awarded SMI-DiGi ICT Adoption Award under the SMI Recognition Award Series 2003.

The company is the first domestic carrier company to receive the ISO 9001:2000 certification issued by Moody International Certification (Malaysia) for its quality management systems last year.

GD Express has a network of 62 stations linked via the Internet throughout the country. The network includes 30 branches, 12 affiliates and 20 agents.

The company has a workforce of 600 people and more than 100 trucks for its express delivery services.

According to Teong, the company has made significant investments in the adoption of IT to enable its system to communicate with those of its international partners and relay information on the delivery status of their shipment.

“Malaysian users want to have high service level close to that offered by the international operators but at Malaysian prices,” he said.

Teong, who was a former institutional dealer at a leading stockbroking firm, said the local express delivery industry could benefit from the infusion of new ideas from people outside the industry.

“About 90% of our employees are from outside the industry and they have provided new perspective in revitalising our company.”

He said many successful companies around the world had developed good work culture and efficient work processes that enabled them to stay ahead of their rivals.

“During my days as an institutional dealer, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit many companies and learn about their success formula,” he said.

GD Express executive director and chief operating officer Leong Chee Tong said the transparency of its human resource structure was important to ensure high level of morale. “We allow employees to earn premium wages and we believe we will attract the best to join us,” he said, adding that the transparent HR structure would enable its employees to know their pay structure and allow fair appraisal of their performance.

“If no proper and transparent reward system had been set up, our workforce would be unhappy and cause problems for the company,” Leong said.

GD Express executive director and head of corporate planning and development, Lau Wing Tat, said complacency and lack of corporate governance were among the reasons many large companies had failed.

“Mistakes made by others are good lessons for us and we want to keep these negative practices in check at GD Express,” Lau, who has more than 20 years experience in fund management, said.

He said that GD Express preferred to improve its service level to be on par with established international operators instead of engaging with “destructive” price wars to gain market share.

“We have already initiated several steps to improve our services such as continuous workforce training and review of work processes for higher delivery reliability and quality.”

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