Partnership lessons that built us a fleet of 415 trucks

Ponty Pridd Holdings director Antony Wainaina, Kenya Breweries Ltd head of Move, Resource Rosemary Mwaniki-Chesire and other officials during an award ceremony at a Nairobi hotel. [Standard]
Ponty Pridd, is a transport logistics company that considers itself rather young in Kenya.

According to the firm’s Managing Director Anthony Wainaina, 12 years of operation in the logistics industry is still new. He speaks to Hustle about how his company’s business model leverages on technology and the power of partnerships to create wealth for more than 1,000 stakeholders.

 Ponty Pridd is cementing its reputation in the logistics industry, and was recently voted the best transporter by East African Breweries, beating seasoned players. What’s making the difference?

We have a good team in place, and a leadership with combined logistics experience of more than 45 years. Local experience and knowledge are also very important in the space we’re in, and our success comes from having our feet on the ground, looking at innovative ways of delivering value to our clients and being very flexible to our clients’ needs and demands.

For this to happen, we asked ourselves, how do we set up an incentive system that allows our best drivers to be fleet owners? How do we realise a genuine win-win partnership with other transport providers to achieve scale and deliver value?

We keep asking these questions and we’ll keep pushing the boundaries in the sector as we answer them.

Explain to us the Ponty Pridd business model.

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It’s one of inclusion. In the last 12 years, we’ve managed to engage and integrate truck owners who have two or three trucks into the bigger fleet in the Ponty family.

This allows small-scale players to have the same opportunity for contracts that would otherwise be the preserve of multinational players or huge fleet owners.

This calls for a very engaging partnership that’s based on industry understanding and trust. Ponty Pridd then invests to ensure that small fleet owners have achieved certain international standards in terms of safety, operational excellence, on-time delivery and driver capabilities.

With this model, we see our fleet capability and operational efficiencies increasing to serve many more clients in the region.

What’s in it for small business owners?

We’ve become a source of aggregation for small businesspeople, where they can get returns on their investment through guaranteed work and pay, growth in truck numbers, and business skills.

More importantly, our model allows them to be part of the larger supply chain in blue-chip organisations where they get exposed to world-class logistics.

Our success in this will not only make us the largest single fleet aggregator in the region, but also the largest player by truck size and volume in the region. We don’t see any other way. We have a fleet size of 415 trucks and counting.

We have more than 1,000 employees getting direct revenue from Ponty Pridd as either partners, drivers or employees.

We’re not big, so we work harder to provide exceptional services to our clients. We’re ready for the future. My teacher used to tell us to act local but think global, which is something I’ve never forgotten and we’re practising just that.

What do you think is the future of logistics and transportation?

The logistics space will grow as regional economies grow.

The cost of moving cargo, however, continues to be a major challenge in the region because it is higher than the international standard.

This cost must come down, and for that to happen, there’s need to create efficiencies at both the transporter and customer levels.

The biggest challenge for the industry is that our trucks are not covering as much mileage as trucks in more developed economies. A truck in Kenya will cover 4,000km per month on average, compared to 15,000km in the West.

This means you divide all the fixed costs of that truck across 4,000km, as opposed to 15,000km, making cargo transport in this region expensive.

What do you see as the biggest disruptor in the industry being?

Technology. Any major player not embracing technology will find it very difficult in the near future. At Ponty Pridd, we’ll be looking at all-inclusive tech for the movement of cargo from port to land, factory to customer, and farm to factory. This technology will provide visibility, reliability and cost-effective delivery.

What’s your take on SGR?

In the short term, we might look at SGR as a threat, a competitor. In the long term, though, it’s an enabler.

In my view, I think the more cargo we can ship into the country, the more opportunities for last-mile delivery we create.

I look at it as an opportunity for partnership, making the port efficient in terms of the containers it can handle, because, let’s be honest, if we don’t increase capacity, cargo will move through Dar es Salaam.

Most developed countries have a very expansive rail network, but still have a lot of cargo going by road.

What are your growth plans?

We view ourselves as a regional player. We aim to be the preferred logistics partner in East Africa.

We’re looking for partnerships with other international logistics firms that would allow a shipment to come from the UK, for instance, to the doorstep of a customer in Kenya, with Ponty Pridd playing a key role from port to doorstep.

The logistics space is challenging in many ways, and requires a lot of patience and commitment to succeed. But we’re very proud to be a homegrown company playing in a space that had been dominated by multinationals for many years.

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Ponty PriddEast African BreweriesManaging Director Anthony Wainaina