Capt. Vaso Janicic, Managing Director of ISD Portolan Ltd.
Expert in logistics and forwarding
Only rarely are experts on forwarding at the same time Logistical Directors of their biggest customers. Captain Vaso Janicic from Montenegro is an example of such rare occasions. For six years now, Capt. Janicic has been in charge of the logistics of ISD DUNAFERR (Danube Ironworks) owned by owners from the Ukraine and, at the same time, he is the Managing Director of ISD PORTOLAN Ltd., a forwarding company employing one hundred people owned by ISD DUNAFERR Zrt. In addition to providing services to Dunaferr, the forwarding company, which also owns the port at Dunaújváros, is open to business with external partners who at the moment make up as much as one fifth of the company.s total turnover.
- You seem to be proud to have the title 'Captain' before your surname. Where and how long have you been sailing?
- I sailed for some 18 years, in the last eight years of this period as a captain of a vessel. During these 18 years I sailed all the oceans and many seas of the world and I have been to a number of ports in all the five continents.
- How will a captain be a forwarder, then?
-When I stopped sailing, I became the Commercial Director of a Montenegrian shipping company. I was in charge of chartering and operating the fleet of the company. Later on I was the General Director of a Maltese shipping company for two years. Then I moved to Greece, where I established my own shipping company. In addition to our main activities (chartering, brokerage, operation of ships) we were engaged, among others, in cargo shipment. We rented and operated three-four 35,000-45,000 t vessels, in which we shipped different steel products from Black Sea ports to the Far East. Our vessels often shipped steel products from Ukrainian ports which at that time belonged to the present owners of DUNAFERR.
In 2005 they asked me to take up the job of Logistical Director at ISD DUNAFERR and of Managing Director at ISD PORTOLAN Ltd. and to organize the complete forwarding and logistics of the factory. Since I had previously had a similar assignment for many years at a medium-sized steel mill whose range of products was much the same as that of DUNAFERR today and I gathered vast experience in combined freight forwarding (sea/river/road/rail), I took the job, at first only for six months. However, the owners were content with my performance so we decided to continue with our co-operation.
- In the first few months of the global economic crisis DUNAFERR cut back its production. How did this affect its .home. forwarding company?
- Our turnover in 2009 was decreased by almost 30% as compared to 2008. Despite this dramatic decrease we made a profit last year too, which is something only very few companies were able to do. This year the production of DUNAFERR has slightly been increased and we have been able to establish co-operation with some new partners. As a result, by September this year we had reached the result of 2009 as a whole and, in total, I expect a much better result in 2010 than in 2009.
- Could you say a few words about the import and export traffic of DUNAFERR?
- Some 3-4 million tons of iron ore and coal are required by the ironworks every year. They are purchased from different sources. Most of the coal is imported from the USA, from the Czech Republic and from Poland. Iron ore is imported from Russia, the Ukraine, Brasil and Sweden. The base materials supplied by different suppliers differ in both their quantities and prices. DUNAFERR is very flexible in deciding where to purchase base materials. In case of US import, for example, one must take into consideration the changes in the EURO/USD rate of exchange on a daily basis.
Depending on the parity, ISD PORTOLAN arranges for carriage by rail, sea/river or sea/rail. The annual volume of output (finished steel products, coke or slag) from the Ironworks is 1.4-1.6 million tons. Appr. 55-60% of this volume is carried to our customers by road, 20-25% by rail and the remaining percentage by water.
- There are rumours now and then that several members of the Hungarian government envisage a broad gauge railway line Záhony.Dunaújváros.Győr. Do you think this is feasible?
- Constructing a new railway line is a too big investment. I am sure its usage charge would thus be accordingly high. Since the prices currently applied are well-known, it is easy to make a calculation whether it would be worth making use of this new railway line or not. And I am speaking not only about the charge for the usage of the tracks; all other services incl. the rent for means must also be included in such a calculation. Anyway, I am content with the services provided by our biggest partners, Záhony Port and Rail Cargo Hungaria.
- Don.t you think that it is perhaps worth, for a company making such a big turnover, establishing its own railway company?
- It turned out during the crisis that the fact that we do not have our own means of transportation but organize carriage as a forwarder does have its advantages; we did not have to bother about idle means of transportation of our own. Maintaining a railway company is an expensive business. You need lots of expertize and experience for such a business. The means necessary for the operation of such a service are very expensive and the rent of such means it is also anything but cheap. Finally, we would surely have lots of headache because of the deficiencies in the infrastructure. To sum up, contracting railway companies for the carriage seems to be a better solution at the moment.
- The port at Dunaújváros has been operated by you since the end of 2008. How do you see the future of shipment on the Danube?
- Shipment for ISD DUNAFERR (import base materials, e.g. iron ore and coal and export finished products, e.g. steel finished products and coke) make up a significant part of the international shipment by river in Hungary. The Danube is not easy to navigate because it is not regulated as a waterway. In different seasons of the year we have to face low water or high water, and when they are going to occur no-one knows for sure. In another part of the year ice jams may be formed and shipping on the Danube is suspended. These are big problems which cause a significant increase in the costs and adversely affect our business plans. Having said this, we are glad to note that the turnover of the port at Dunaújváros is on the increase and more and and more customers are making use of the services provided there. Last year the cargo turnover of the port was over 950 thousand tons, this year we have alrerady exceeded 1 million tons and we have good chances to break the absolute record of 1.2 million tons in 2008.
Navigátor 18. vol. 10. num. / 2010