We noticed you're blocking ads.

Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker.

Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us

Font Size

- Aa +

Wed 9 Jun 2010 02:52 PM

Font Size

- Aa +

Passionately profitable

Celebrating its 15th anniversary of operations this year, Consolidated Shipping Services (CSS) has emerged unscathed from recent market turmoil, explains its outspoken chairman and founder T.S. Kaladharan.

Passionately profitable
Passionately profitable
Consolidated Shipping Services operates a flagship warehousing facility.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary of operations this year, Consolidated Shipping Services (CSS) has emerged unscathed from recent market turmoil, explains its outspoken chairman and founder T.S. Kaladharan.

With humble beginnings in a small South Indian village, T.S. Kaladharan now sits atop a conglomerate considered to be a regional powerhouse in the logistics industry.

Lounging in his Jebel Ali office - plush with white leather couches and state-of-the-art monitors - Kaladharan beams when talking about the success of Consolidated Shipping Services (CSS). "We have maintained a steady growth since our inception," he begins with a sense of pride.

Launched in 1995, with just a handful of employees and a 1200 square foot office, CSS has since grown into a company of more than 750 employees, spread over 20 offices around the world. As the chairman and founder, Kaladharan began his career in Bahrain, going to work as an office assistant for DHL. After more than ten years of service with the courier firm, working in sectors such as cargo distribution and air freight, he set his sights on Dubai, eager to utilise his contacts and expertise.

Known affectionately by his peers as ‘Kala', he's since made quite a respected name for himself within the freight forwarding community.

In choosing the most suitable place to launch CSS, Kala was drawn to Dubai for a variety of reasons, actively becoming part of the late 90's boom. Kala says that he saw what Dubai envisioned itself becoming and considered it to be great place to operate his business. "It was quite a simple decision really," he says. "Its tax free, the government remains very supportive of commerce, and its location makes it a transit hub to several growing markets."

Admittedly, while the Dubai market has become somewhat ‘stagnant' in the past year, Kala says other regional markets are undergoing healthy expansion. "We have experienced very consistent growth within India, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi," he states.

When talking to Kala, his sense of optimism is almost infectious. After all, this is a man that has grown his company of five employees to more than 750 in a little under 15 years, all the while attributing his success to the people that were brought on board, more so than himself.

"I believe in my team and management. Nobody in this world has ever succeeded without a belief and team effort. These two attributes provide an ethos for success. It was the confidence in our people, and the confidence in our beliefs that has brought us to where we are today."

He remains adamant about sharing the success of CSS with his employees. Whether it's the company's bi-monthly publication, Lighthouse, where employees receive official recognition for their work, or the sponsored badminton and cricket tournaments, all have been well received. As an employee welfare measure, the company also serves up a free daily lunch to the entire workforce.

Immediate advantages aside, Kala believes that implementing such incentives will consequently reduce merchandise loss in his warehouses, as employees no longer bring lunch pails to work. In talking about CSS's economic outlook, the executive is very positive, and while 2009 was "not as bad as the other guys", he says 2010 holds even more promise. But given the current global economic state, is the company really undergoing expansion?
Kala thinks that now is the time to act, and one such venture is a recent partnership with Peters & May, a specialist in yacht transportation throughout the world. Given the current financial climate, he believes this is one shipping sector that is experiencing consistent growth. In such a niche market with high-end clientele, the markups tend to be quite favorable. "We recognise the need to partner with a firm that has received global recognition in boat transportation," says Kala. "We both share the same unmatched professionalism that has made us recognised leaders in our specialised fields."

The sentiments are shared by Gerald Price, managing director of Peters & May, who signed the contract with CSS. "Due to the increased volume of business being carried out by our local Dubai office, we found it necessary to appoint an agent with an existing network of offices in the region, which will support the future growth that we are anticipating in the Middle East," he explains.

Currently, Peters & May ships around 8000 vessels through more than 150 ports in over 60 countries. It is also the preferred shipper for many of the world's leading boat builders, including the likes of Correct Craft, Gulf Craft, Princess Yachts, Sunseeker and Viking Yacht Company.

Regarding the current market, are there any changes that Kala might suggest, that would possibly benefit freight forwarders in the near term? "Absolutely," he cheers, stating that the one major change he would like to see within the shipping market is more consistency to Bunker Adjustment Factor (BAF) and Currency Adjustment Factor (CAF), or the surcharges associated with shipping goods. "It's unbelievable to me. People are used to it. These surcharges have become widely accepted. As a forwarder, I just want to see more consistency in the pricing, whether high or low."

In the end, Kala says, it gets passed along to the consumer and simply creates more headaches for shippers and freight forwarders, which should be avoided.

Having celebrated the company's 15th anniversary earlier this year, Kala is evidently proud at how far CSS has come. In true celebratory fashion, he threw a three-day long party for his employees and clients, inviting all to attend. "The celebrations were a tribute to everyone who contributed to our success," he explains.

The event took place on 16th-18th April and comprised several conferences and open discussions, which offered agents the opportunity to speak about their association with CSS. Breakout sessions were also included, where the agents had a choice to interact with various departments in the company. After the conference, a gala dinner was served, with a recognition ceremony for long-serving CSS staffers and live fusion music by renowned musicians from India to entertain guests. On the final day of celebrations, guests were treated to an Arabian themed dinner and evening activities such as belly dancing, a falcon show and camel riding at the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa.

"The celebration was a memorable experience for everyone involved," concludes Kala. "I believe it's important to acknowledge our achievements in such ways and I look forward to many more occasions like this in the future."

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

Real news, real analysis and real insight have real value – especially at a time like this. Unlimited access ArabianBusiness.com can be unlocked for as little as $4.75 per month. Click here for more details.