Franco Azzopardi, chairman and CEO of Express Trailers
It might end up going down as one of the biggest ironies; that these past months of uncertainty have made us aware of a few important certainties
Of course, everyone’s circumstances are different but from what we get to come across on social media, it seems that many people have come up with their own important realisations; from appreciating more time with family, to being grateful for the simpler things in life, to making the best out of every moment and to never take life for granted.
Although not so much on a personal or philosophical level, perhaps my realisation was the fact that in what turned out to be very peculiar and unprecedented times, logistics is still neither appreciated nor seen as the critical conduit that feeds consumer and industrial goods into Malta and out.
And perhaps the reason for this was that as major operators, we remained committed to our role to ensure that the Maltese keep finding their life’s essentials on the shelves. As long as people keep finding their food, medicines and so many other products, they never felt the need to question the where and how and what it took.
In fact, over the past months, our role as transport and logistics operators has never been so vital. To ensure continuity, we kept open all channels from and to countries that remained open and made sure our operations for import and export kept functioning while optimizing our routes to remain viable and competitive. As long as European borders remain open for cargo and the main port of Genoa, which is Malta’s lifeline, remains operational and ro-ro sailings on schedule, we will keep assisting our clients to remain productive while maintaining the supply of goods on the market.
As logisticians, we have been built to serve and this is what has been driving us throughout the past 60 years and more, where we have always had a leading role in the economic development of our country. And these times are no exception as we apply what we have learnt, into our operations and methods while keeping our people at the forefront of whatever we do.
And from my position I cannot not salute all truckers, local drivers and assistants and warehousing personnel who have all been proving their mettle over the past weeks. They too are front liners, lone wolves risking it all but soldiering on, ensuring a seamless link between customers and suppliers. They deserve all our respect and gratitude for serving the community with pride.
This is hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime experience which will forge us into sharper blades. As company leaders, our role now compels us to listen in every direction as we strategically seek to preserve jobs and stakeholder value. No company has been spared over these past weeks and we have all been jostled and roughed by the force of the economic storm out there as we wonder what the recovery curve will eventually look like.
Our struggle as business leaders will now be to soldier on as we try to keep the morale high while mentoring and motivating our people and clients in the face of all that is unknown. It is a time that calls for sound, strong and unyielding leadership. It is a time when leaders will realise whether they are followed simply out of authority or willingly because their leadership is acknowledged.
Malta, although small, is a resilient nation thanks to the resilience of its businesses. As a family business, Express Trailers has worked hard to build a resilient operation and I will do all in my power to lead our company out of this crisis while serving our nation’s transport and logistics requirements. When the sun is eventually shining on our face and the wind is blowing at our backs, we will still be there at the forefront.
Meanwhile, our best strategy needs to be based on unyielding quality in all we do, on the resilience built into the governance, risk and finance structures that we invested in over the years and on the response and agility we are trained for. Our new obsession? To leave no one behind.