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Hong Kong-based BALtrans “Covering the Globe” with expansion strategies and serviceBy Karen E. Thuermer, AJOTPaving the way to smoother and more transparent shipments through Asia and the world is the goal of BALtrans, a Hong Kong-based freight forwarding and logistics company.BALtrans Group, founded in 1982, is one of the largest Asia-based freight forwarding and logistics companies with an international network spanning all key markets in Asia, North America, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands. In fact, in September two new offices in Amsterdam and Rotterdam were added. The expansion is a key step in the group’s strategic plan to expand into key European markets following BALtrans’ initial entry with six offices set up in Germany in 2004 and the takeover of Jardine Logistics UK offices in 2003.
“We continue to focus on our core business,” Anthony Lau, chairman and CEO of BALtrans told AJOT during an interview in his Hong Kong office late last year.
Lau admits that expanding in Europe is not an easy task. “It is difficult to branch into Europe,” he says. “I wonder if it is due to people’s domestic attitudes. For a Hong Kong-based logistics company, we have had better success in the United Kingdom. Perhaps it has to do with the fact Hong Kong was once a British colony.”
The company is also well represented in the United States, where today it has seven offices. According to Mr. Lau, however, the company would like to have 15 to 20 offices. “We would like to add offices in cities like Seattle, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas and Toronto,” he says.
The company set up its first office in New York City in 1992. “We have a good reputation and have been working hard in the United States,” Lau says. “We are known for being service-oriented, especially among Jewish importers.”
In November 2005, BALtrans opened its first Middle East sales office in Dubai. The Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region has been one of BALtrans’ key targets for accelerating its international expansion.
“We were underrepresented in the market in the past,” Lau explains.
Getting the job done rightWith world commerce bursting at the seams, and with issues related to international trade becoming increasingly complicated, freight forwarders are particularly charged with making the transactions appear seamless, professional, and on-time. This is especially the case in China where “efficient” and “fast” is not always possible since transportation channels have not been able to develop quickly enough to accommodate the large volumes of goods being shipped from the country. Having a company on the ground that knows the ropes and is well connected can make a huge difference. To deliver just that, BALtrans has developed a team of trained professionals, a fully integrated IT platform and management focused on operational excellence. Unlike many of its competitors, the company also offers pick-and-pack and warehousing services.
“Many other companies outsource this to third party providers,” Lau says.
Commanding coverage of over 50 countries worldwide via its 40 offices, BALtrans is one of the largest Hong Kong-based freight forwarding and logistics groups in the Asia Pacific.
“We have a presence is key cities from Beijing to Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur,” Lau says. “We will soon add Colombo, Sri Lanka and Bombay, India.”
In 2004, the company established a joint venture company based Shenzhen, which focuses on the development of container logistics services at Yantian Port, in Shenzhen. The company is known as Shenzhen Yantian Port BAL-Shing Logistics Company, Ltd., and is 30% owned by BALtrans Logistics, 40% by Shenzhen Yantian Port Group, and 30% by Shing Kee Logistics. The joint venture leverages the combined expertise of the three companies to provide container logistics services that address growing customer demands at Yantian Port.
“It is part of BALtrans’ efforts to expand our Mainland China operations and capitalize on th

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American Journal of Transportation