Below article is a translation of an interview taken in August 2010 from the Chairman of NSBS (Bulgarian Association for Freight Forwarding, Transport and Logistics) Mr. Georgi Minchev and was published at Logistika web magazine issue 6 / 2010
Logistika: Mr. Minchev how shall we understand that the crisis has already left Bulgaria?
Mr. Minchev: Most probably by the end of the year we will feel the first significant and stable changes in the freight volumes which is a strong indicator for the status of the entire economy of Bulgaria. Another indicator, which is very important and closely related to the economy’s health is the level of unemployement. It is a fact that this level stopped to grow exponentially. Obviously we had hit the bottom here as well. I assert this as an employer. There is a balance between demand and availability of qualified employees which is valid not only for Sofia. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the year the demand for highly qualified personnel exceeds the market supply. The crisis was the trigger that unleashed the accumulated disbalances and discreapancies in Bulgarian economy. In one-two years, probably, the current structure of Bulgarian economy will change dramatically – as a structure and as market orientation. I am sure that the importance of sectors that add value, sectors with relatively higher deal of the intelectual labor, includingly the services, will increase.
Logistika: But shouldn’t we miss the new wave?
Mr. Minchev: By the fall of this year I expect that some sectors of the economy will catch the new wave and will be the first to benefit from it. In some other sectors however, processes will be slower. And of course there will be plants and factories even whole branches which will remain history in several years. They will exhaust their resources if they not find new way of development. I can not prognose how this contradicting trends will influence the final freight balance and volumes in our economy. Nevertheless, I am convinced that from one side the role of energy and material consuming industry branches like mining and poluting productions will decrease, which means lower transportaion volumes but from the other side modernized production facilities, based on the new technologies and higher added value will generate new traffics. I guess these new traffics will compensate what will be lost from the low profitability, traditional sectors. And one thing which must be as the Ten Commandements for the Bulgarian transportation – creation of circumstances for sustainable attraction of tranzit volumes must be as a part of the morning prayer for everybody involved in the freight and logistics sector.
Logistika: How this can be achieved in the after-crisis times, where everybody is on its own?
Mr. Minchev: We have something like renewable energy source and this is our geographical position. Regretably in the last 20 years we have almost not benefited from this potential. I would even say that due to various reasons (objective and subjective) we pushed part of the natural freight traffic to surpass Bulgaria, which costs both us and the traffic owners money. That means that we have driven serious people, serious systems to spend money, time and energy in order to avoid the impact with our unwillingness to work – this so southern and regretably too much Bulgarian feature which has almost become as a reflex. We are kings of the lazy models, but non-inteleigent lazy models. Why shall we work on double volume when we can simply increase the price with 50%. Why to work for keeping a traffic, once it is already in our hands, due to conccurence of circumstances. Yes, it is in our hands but for only a short time. And after we loose this traffic we sit with tears in the eyes, mowning that the traffic has gone. We must educate to see the waves and like the good surfers to catch them and surf them as longer as possible. This effort must be collective. If we want to work and benefit what we are heavenly gifted, we must learn to create new communications, new organizations, new infrastructure, new organizational models, based on the newest and highest world achievements and development prospectives in the transportation worldwide. This is by itself, new working culture, new attitude towards ourselves.
Logistika: Who will build them up?
Mr. Minchev: The challenge is in the younger generations which now take active role. For the last twenty years, practically there has been no stable logistics base build and they have the chance to heal the trauma from this fact. Look at the ports! Where are we in the use of modern tehcnologies? What is our organizational model for work with potential customers? Because if a customer does not enter, accidently, the port, there is no job for neither road transportaion no rail transportation. Representatives of road carriers, ports and railroads do not know each other and if they knew they do not, lightly said, like each other. And until they do not unite their efforts and it does not become clear who will do what, until activities are not coordinated, the final customer will not be happy. Customers care not who is guilty and who is not. Once they notice that there is no railroad and road transportation behind the port they simply make U-turn to Constanza, Thessaloniki or any other place. Constanza did not existed 20 years ago. We can only watch and learn and some of us envy. But Constanza has created their traffic and there is no sence for us to steal it. We must build our traffics. We must grow our customers.
Logistika: What is the main task in front of the new generation in the freight forwarding
Mr. Minchev: We have reached a point where we should say to each other, without too much noise and hullabaloo, the very thruth, the way it is, and to look forward to find solutions, to see how to continue, to set priorities, to assess what has chance for development and what is futile. We should turn our backs to what we have lost in the past – we can not get it back. If we don’t do it, our road stops there. We are our worst enemy. We must change ! We must ensure integrity in all our activities from the lowest to the top level in our organizations. Now we build the foundation for the next 50 years. And we have been given one more chance. Now all equipment is under change and modernization. The types of organizations change. The purchasing structure changes. The structure of economy changes. Nevertheless, we must have a common goal and this goal must be translated at the language of transportation. We need qualified people to manage the new processes.
I am absolutely sure that the time when we could have afforded to loose opportunities has passed. From the next year we must start to thing and work as full capacity members of EU.