Lauras Lukošius is the Managing Director at BALTIC FREIGHT SERVICES.
His career in logistics started as a Cargo Manager at Lithuanian Airlines, which was a state-owned flag carrier at that time. BFS was incorporated in 1996 and he has been Managing Director of the company since that time. There was a short „break“ in his career at BFS when he left BFS in 2014 and sold his minority shares to a major shareholder. He was working then for MSC Lithuania as a business development manager mainly in charge of the Belarus market. But in 2017 he returned back to BFS in the form of a „management buyout“.
- How does Baltic Freight Services differentiate its market strategy compared to competitors in the industry?
Our strategy is to be very close to our clients. To understand their genuine needs and to perform. To be a personal consultant to the client. Even though we are in B2B, still believe that person-to-person relationship is very important. Especially for small companies. Neither big multinational forwarders nor big direct carriers will perform similar way. Not to mention „digital“ forwarder.
Of course, you always have to be very quick and adaptive. Business is becoming more and more dynamic. Many years ago we had a joke that we have 3 main ingredients: we can offer super good customer service, we can deliver very fast and we can deliver at a very cheap price, but the customer has to choose just 2 of them. Now you have to be able to deliver all three components at a time.
- Given BFS’s focus on air freight and its expansion into other services, can you share your thoughts on how the company’s service portfolio has evolved and what opportunities you see for further growth and diversification?
Yes, many years ago we started from airfreight. At that time Lithuania was not a member of the EU. Now we have more in our portfolio.
Our business has no borders. Especially being an EU member we can service clients located in other EU countries. We manage a large number of local Lithuanian, Polish, and other haulers whose services can be a very good fit for our EU clients, especially for grouppage cargo. We efficiently arrange deliveries between other EU countries, i.e. we do cross-trade.
Some clients see the Baltic as one market. This gives us an opportunity to handle not only their road cargo but also air & ocean cargo destined to or originating from all Baltics – Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
Our strength is that we do all modes of transport ourselves. There are many logistics companies whose main business is road transport (this market is the biggest) and who say that they do everything. Very often, they do not book directly with a shipping line or airline. We have IATA an accredited agent since 2002.
Our team speaks many languages: Lithuanian, which is our native, also English, Polish, and Russian. In some cases, you simply could not perform without English, but in some other cases, it simply gives you an advantage when you can talk directly to a Polish driver in his/her mothertong.
Oversize/heavyweight cargo. The market for such cargo in our area is not big. But this is „more interesting“ cargo, where you have to put more knowledge into organizing the whole routing. Please watch the gallery of images of our transported cargo at https://www.bfs.lt/gallery.
We have opened the Central Asia market. Not an easy business, because many logistics companies have moved to this market recently. We try to focus on the direct client segment and try to avoid local forwarders in order not to be involved in transit business to Russia. When dealing with direct clients you have a better understanding of their business and what is the final destination of their imported goods. Kazakhstan has very big potential and at the same time it is very competitive market. It has been buying goods from the West and will continue to do so.
- In the context of digitalization, what specific solutions and advancements are you offering your clients to enhance their logistics experience?
For BFS, digitalization helps to efficiently manage our internal processes.
For clients, the most important is that you always do what you promise. So our main task from a customer experience perspective is to manage information over all pick-ups and all last-mile deliveries for our road LTL cargo. When you sub-contract a large number of very different small truckers plus when your cargo moves via different terminals, sometimes you lack timely information on whether your cargo has been already picked up or not. If anybody has a tool to digitally gather together all big/small trucks in one platform, I would like to hear about that. 😊 Many companies have their own systems which work well within their own network. This is different from the air and ocean market, where you have tools to track all your air or ocean cargo in one place.
- What are the key industry challenges and opportunities that you foresee BFS encountering in the coming years, and how would you contribute to the company’s readiness to address these?
Economic slowdown surely is impacting the logistics business. Customers were spending their money when they were locked at their homes during the pandemic, now they have decreased their spending, and logistics companies are the first to „feel“ this on their shoulders. Baltic countries have been transit corridors from the West to Russia. Now this has changed. The total market has shrunk, but the number of competitors did not. Margins have fallen to very low levels. So again, you have to be very quick, you have to adapt and be innovative.
- What was the main reason you decided to extend your membership in WOF Alliance and what are your expectations of the membership for the future?
I like the idea of the WOF general meeting and the WOF expo being put together. You have a chance not only to meet your fellow members from the Alliance but also to meet many other industry players, share their insights, etc.
Please watch a short video about BFS: