With the vision of saving time and resources for hauliers, while improving visibility and reliability for end customers, one entrepreneur thought out of the league, and crafted a brand new eco-system to overhaul logistics operations.
Alvin Ea is that trailblazing leader who is on a mission to bring value to the various stakeholders within the container trucking space. He is the Co-founder and CEO of Haulio, which provides a revolutionary collaborative B2B platform to get containers moved.
Mesmerizing Entrepreneurial Journey
Alvin started his logistics profession through his family business HUB Distributors Services, a local SME 3PL firm in Singapore since 1988. He decided to start the company’s container haulage arm in 2013, and from there built it up from scratch – from a fleet of 1 to 15 trucks – in the span of 3 years.
“The process was painstaking, as I built it through the traditional way. It wasn’t easy meeting the expectations of customers and juggling the demands of an unpredictable job that lacked operational stability,” asserts Alvin. After years of toiling in the traditional logistics industry, Alvin understood the importance of technology and observed the likes of eCommerce companies changing the entire landscape in ridiculous speed.
He was very happy with the remarkable growth of his company but wanted to do something different. He was tired of trying to make a change to solve his own company’s daily struggles, when in actual fact these problems resonate with the rest of his other “friendly competitors”. The turning point came when Alvin met Sebastian Shen, the co-founder of his company, who had the same grand vision as him – to change this traditional industry through technology.
Alvin’s company offers a web-based platform that bridges the information gaps across the industry today by simply matching demand to supply. “Due to the consolidation of vessels upstream and increasing vessel sizes, there is an increased volatility in spikes and troughs of shipment. Haulio helps to even out haulage resources through the sharing of resources,” added Alvin. As the CEO of Haulio, his goal is to maximize haulage resources through industry level sharing to improve job productivity and asset utilization. He also gives equal emphasis to add value to end customers by providing realtime visibility and reporting of fleet operations.
Further, Alvin continuously pushes his team to read widely and to document their learnings. He wants each of them to grow with Haulio – be it as a UX researcher, a product designer, a software developer or a marketer. “I hope that through Haulio, they will build and develop into professionals in their respective fields,” stated the CEO.
Alvin’s Biggest Feat
Alvin considers his biggest achievement till date with Haulio is the validation of the work that he is contributing. He cannot emphasize enough about the role that the trucking community plays in the industry and by seeing the impact that they have on the industry regardless of the size of the customer, is what drives him forward.
“A notable achievement would be getting one of the largest Port Operator in the World to be our investor and client where we managed to develop on a project that was once their “Innovation of the Year” and servicing a contract with them from the start of our incubation till today,” stated Alvin.
Viewpoint on Leadership and Entrepreneurship
Alvin believes that a leader should lead by example. As the leader of the company, “I represent the core values that the company stands for and the best way to set the culture is to be the one who display the values within,” added Alvin. Moreover, walking the ground and getting to interact and know more about his colleagues is another way which he uses to influence employees in a positive and interactive manner.
For budding entrepreneurs, Alvin has a piece of advice. He says, be the change you wish to see in this world. There is no problem too big to solve. He has already stepped into a highly fragmented industry like haulage to try and make a difference. According to Alvin, there will be many walls and obstacles that will come your way, just learn to deal with them, one at a time. It always seems impossible until it’s done, reflects Alvin
Alvin’s Take on ‘Challenges’ and ‘Future Outlook’
Alvin considers that the biggest obstacle that occurs in most of the businesses is of longer conversion cycles. He explained, to effect reformative changes in the traditional industry like haulage needs longer time as more time is needed to change the mind-sets and business processes.
Furthermore, he added, there are also many stakeholders and departments involved, each with differing agendas – the challenge will be to get companies to fully adopt the changes and move towards a digital platform for the booking and execution of their daily Container Haulage requirements.
On recalling his future lookout about the industry, Alvin said many interesting things. “I see Haulio as the future of haulage – this is what haulage SHOULD be. Haulage today is still stuck in the 80s, and this needs to change,” concluded Alvin. “I hope that in 10 years, haulage will be digitalized, with Haulio leading or partnering with others, to bring this change.”