Toll talks leadership in China

China’s rapid economic growth over the past century has created many opportunities for both local and international businesses according to Toll Group.

In 1995, Toll entered the Chinese market beginning operations in South China via a joint venture.

Toll partnered with Singapore Government-owned SembCorp Logistics and would go on to acquire the business in 2006.

As a fully owned foreign entity, Toll began to merge and streamline its extensive network of logistics distribution centres, cross-dock and depot facilities to 21 strategically located distribution centres across China. Toll now operates in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Qingdao, Wuhan, Urumuji and other key Chinese cities to service over 50 customers.

Victor Tan, Toll Executive Vice President – Asia, has worked for the company for more than 25 years, including more than seven years managing Toll’s operations in China.

Tan started his career by joining the family logistics business in Singapore — delivering goods, operating trucks and working closely with customers. Throughout this time, he saw the business through numerous changes including a strategic venture with a Singapore Government Linked Company, being listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange and, finally, being acquired by Toll in 2007.

In 2010, Tan was asked to oversee Toll’s operation in China and accepted the opportunity and challenge without a second thought. With support from his leadership team, he has since transformed the business to operate to global standards by introducing best practice from the group’s global operations, implementing lean management and building and growing a high-performing team.

“China is a very competitive market,” said Tan. “As a foreign company operating in China, Toll needs to provide the best value to our customers in order to be successful. After seven years and with more than 1,200 people working at Toll in China we have transformed the business into one that focuses on continuous improvement, innovation and value creation.”

Toll, like many foreign businesses operating in China, have encountered cultural and language barriers.

“China is very big and dynamic, with a very promising economy,” said Tan. “Risks, barriers and challenges can be found in every country, and I consider these opportunities. At Toll, we focus on having an in-depth understanding of these factors, and overcoming them.”

All Toll employees are educated in local business practices that fully comply with Chinese regulations as well as Toll Group’s global compliance policy.

Mindful of their competitors, Toll focuses on meeting customer expectations and creating value for clients in addition to focusing on price.

“By providing independent and wide-reaching distribution services across the country, Toll cares, responds and delivers to ensure goods arrive punctually and safely,” said Tan.

“Toll cares about our customers.

“We have open discussions with them about their business concerns, and can offer flexibility and tailored solutions to help their businesses grow. To cater for our customers’ requirements, we run our business according to the local calendar and successfully manage peak seasons like the Spring Festival and other public holidays. We continually invest in technology and innovative track-and-trace systems to ensure punctual and efficient delivery.”

Safety is also a top priority for Toll.

“We spend a lot of time working on safe workplace practices to prevent people from being injured in the business,” said Tan. “We also improve our operations by focusing on our people in the workplace to measure and improve their productivity and operational excellence.”

Customer satisfaction, according to Tan, is also a serious matter for the business.

“At Toll, we want to learn more about our customers: what they want, their values and the changing landscape of their businesses,” said Tan. “We deliver efficiently and on time, and we also invest in advanced technologies and innovation, which help us improve visibility and track-and-trace systems. Furthermore, customers in China can use our customised app to track their orders using their mobile devices.”

Earlier this year, Toll Group sold its global business unit.

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