Here at MTS Logistics, we spoke to the company’s CEO, Sedat Saka, and discussed his journey from school graduation to growing one of the top national logistics companies in the United States, all while remaining a New York-based company. In the interview, Mr. Saka discusses his background, his vision for MTS Logistics, the company’s growth, and his outlook on technology and the future of shipping and logistics.
We would like to get to know you briefly. What is your educational background and how long have you been in the logistics industry?
I have graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy in 1986, completed my MBA in 1990, and in 1992, undertook a short training on container shipping at Japan JAICA for 1.5 months. Since my graduation in 1986, I have been in the shipping/logistics industry. Being a Captain gave me a huge opportunity to grow within the logistics industry.
How would you describe MTS Logistics’ vision and mission? Can you talk about the services provided by the company?
According to a 2015 study, there are 408,000 small and medium-sized importers and exporters in the U.S. trading internationally. 98% of all exporters and 97% of all importers are small or mid-sized companies. However, larger companies account for a larger share of overall trade. Small and medium-sized companies account for a third of all trade. Therefore, I assume almost 50% of all goods shipped in containers are handled by small and mid-sized import/export companies.
At MTS Logistics, our entire company, systems, and team are designed to provide the best quality service to any-sized company. However, small and mid-sized companies benefit the most as their infrastructure is not as extensive as larger ones. Imagine a mid-sized company importing from 5 different countries, and using 8 different export ports and 3 different import ports in the U.S. If they do not have infrastructure in those places, they might have difficulty having full visibility on their valuable cargo. At MTS Logistics, our system allows them to see everything from booking to choosing best steamship line and/or airline option and tracking throughout the U.S. and abroad, to tracking through U.S. Customs and delivery to the customer’s door. Our goal is to provide shippers with full visibility and decision-making capabilities from the start. We add major value to your supply-chain logistics.
Additionally, as we do not need to have offices everywhere, and can work largely in the cloud, our prices should be more competitive then the worldwide ones. Times have changed. For example, today, we can make a customs entry from almost anywhere without needing a hard copy of a Bill of Lading, unless specifically requested. MTS Logistics provides convenience and 21st-century technology.
Previously, we had encountered difficulty when selling our services, as we do not have offices in every U.S. city. However, after Amazon became commercially successful, employing a very similar, cloud-based business model, prospective customers started to understand and trust the cloud-based anywhere nature of our business. This year, MTS Logistics was awarded for being a Top 10 Shipper at the Port of New Orleans, where we do not have offices. Even though MTS Logistics is not located in every city, that shows that we have become a nationwide provider without having offices everywhere. As a cloud-based nationwide company, we provide the same, if not better, services, with less freight charges, ultimately passing savings on to the buyer.
You founded MTS Logistics as a Turkish businessman, and over the years, MTS Logistics has become one of the top logistics companies in the U.S. How did you achieve this success? What makes MTS Logistics different than its competitors?
One major difference between MTS Logistics, a Freight Forwarder and NVOCC, and steamship lines, is that we provide options to our ultimate consignee instead of only one option.
Imagine you are a buyer and are looking to ship from somewhere in inland China to a delivery point in Houston, Texas. When you work with us, once your shipper/factory makes the booking in China, you will see around 2-4 different options with different freight costs, different delivery dates, and different reliability percentages. So, you have options to choose from. If you have time, you can choose least expensive one. If you want a definite delivery date, you can choose the one that is the most reliable and direct option. MTS Logistics provides flexible options for your convenience.
Steamship lines provide one option – their own. Sometimes, it’s the best, but sometimes there are better options. Occasionally, some points in the world do not handle inland trucking or some places do not do direct call, leading to less reliable delivery dates. Freight intermediaries, like MTS Logistics, provide a wide variety of options. With our state-of-the-art, new customer platform, our customers can get those options the minute their factory makes the booking.
MTS Logistics developed and operates a unique company blog website, MoreThanShipping.com, which is one of the top shipping/logistics blogs within the shipping/logistics industry. The most unique aspect of our blog is that all articles are written by MTS Logistics employees. Each employee writes about 4 articles each year.
Having our employees also serve as blog authors on a variety of topics requires them to research, read, investigate, and improve different perspectives on many issues. Ultimately, this hard work helps improve our employees and their intimate knowledge of the shipping/logistics industry. That is one of the reasons that our customer service is one of the top within our industry.
How much did MTS Logistics grow in 2017? What are your expectations for 2018?
MTS Logistics has seen strong growth since its inception. Since day one, we have put the customer first. We train our team internally, and with the help of an outside company, to ensure our team consists of experienced employees.
We are an ISO-certified company, so we do everything according to procedures. Our level of customer service is not affected by employee changes over time. Putting our employees first, and providing them the training they need, has made all the difference.
At MTS Logistics, we use the old-fashioned bell, which was seen over the years at shipping brokerage companies. When deals were closed, someone rang the bell as a sign of success. We use the bell to thank employees when customers refer others to us as a result of our excellent customer service, or when a customer thanks us for providing a great level of service.
When receiving that kind of recognition from customers, we ring the bell to announce a particular employee’s success. Their name, or names, are written on a board next to the bell, for recognition. The bell helps motivate us when we land a customer or get rewarded by a customer for our outstanding service. That shows our commitment to service level. As CEO, I personally ring the bell and put those names on the board.
When the company started, MTS Logistics was only shipping from Turkey. Today, we now ship from over 65 countries, once again showing that we have a large, worldwide presence.
Our expectation for 2018 is that this trend of excellent customer service, the best in the industry, continues this year and beyond.
Technology is growing faster than ever. Do you think the logistics industry will be able to adapt? Do you follow technological developments as you continue to grow MTS Logistics?
Technology continues to grow for sure. And the logistics industry is ripe for improvements brought on by this new technology.
New technology is already affected many elements of the logistics industry, including payments, bill of lading deliveries, tracking, and communication. It’s clear that everyone is enjoying technology’s effects.
I don’t think we will see huge changes in the logistics industry within the next ten years. There will likely be major improvements in communication quality, tracking precision, and more, but nothing major or revolutionary.
In order to see technology majorly affect the logistics industry, company structures will need to evolve and change. As I said previously, small and mid-sized companies are the backbone of the U.S. economy. They pay higher salaries, more taxes, and contribute more than anyone to growth.
When those companies see major changes in the taxes they pay, and the income they receive, perhaps we will see real changes from technology within the industry. For example, the addition of two more Amazon-like companies may upend the 408,000 importer/exporter companies in the U.S.
The arrival of those major changes will prompt new questions, such as who will pay higher taxes, who will pay those employees, etc. The future will tell, but personally, I do not believe there will be any major changes within the current industry landscape.