LUCIANO BACIGALUPI joined Express Trailers 3 years ago to oversee the company’s first steps towards internationalisation. Based in Genoa, Italy, Luciano, and his team are currently supervising the ongoing works on Express Trailers’ new logistics hub, which as Luciano says, “is now at a very advanced stage”.
“It is ironic how today I find myself working for a transport and logistics company like Express Trailers when my father also happened to work in logistics as a director of the Genoa branch of a Swiss multinational freight forwarding company. So I can truly say that transport and logistics are in my blood!”
Born in 1959, after graduating from Italy’s nautical high school and navy academy, Luciano recalls his early years when as a fifteen-year-old, he was already inclined towards this business.
“My favourite fun activity during my summer vacations was replacing my father’s company staff who were on holiday! Since all our business took place within the Genoa old town, I could easily help with running external errands and helping our port clerks. The era of the container vessels was not yet with us and our touristic old port which was the main commercial harbour used to be full of ‘liberty class’ ships.
“These were very cheap ships built and used by Americans during World War 2 to run commercial convoys across the Atlantic without the risk of suffering losses that were too costly if anything happened to them. I remember these ships used to be loaded by means of large cranes with the Italian export of technology products to the north and south America.”
After a short experience in the navy and aboard merchant ships, Luciano was back in logistics working with multinationals and small companies and, for four years, he was also a member of the board of Genoa’s transport and forwarding association, heading the newly created logistics commission.
“My experience working with multinationals taught me that a company of any size needs to base its business on strong values, clear and well-shared mission and vision, the ability to understand the evolution of society, economy and markets and plan the business accordingly. From smaller companies then, I learned the art of customisation, teamwork, and the ability to cooperate with clients in their projects as a partner. Both sizes of companies have their disadvantages as well though. Big companies lack flexibility whereas small companies can easily stop innovating their model and skills.”
Luciano shifts to his current work with Express Trailers.
“I joined Express Trailers 3 years ago and today, our Genovese operating structure is composed of a team of seven experienced people, most of whom came with me from my former company. Our organisation enjoys a healthy network across Italy and abroad, allowing Express Trailers S.r.l to optimise and take advantage of every order and any transport and logistics operation. Our business is mainly focused on the setting and managing of logistics projects in Italy for foreign accounts, but we also operate in other niche activities such as ‘project cargo’.”
“I have known and worked with the Express Group and the Vella family for over twenty years and have always admired them for their dynamic and well-rooted family business. Therefore, when they decided to internationalise the business and to do that in Genoa, I was not surprised at all but nonetheless, honoured to accept their proposal to cooperate in the new setup.
“In the spring of 2018, after having established Express Trailers S.r.l. and acquired the area where to build our new hub, we started discussing the opportunity to integrate the activities of my former company and my team with Express Trailers’ project by generating the important holistic synergies and combining in one single entity both the well-set Maltese business activities and our niche specialisation in forwarding and tailored logistics services in Italy.
“Today, two years since the start of this collaborative journey and despite the impact of this pandemic on our business plan, I am very happy to say that we still managed to reach our target and be where we were expecting to be: at a stage where the deep roots and strong values of a successful family business have been wisely combined with the professional and skilled management of our team.
We are witnessing a very unique and successful synergy, and this is very motivating for us.”
Having worked with Express Trailers for many years, Luciano always saw the orange trucks and trailers as a well-recognised presence in Genoa but only as good customers of the ro-ro services transiting through Genoa.
“Now that I am part of the orange family myself, our duty is to promote the orange fleet in Italy, for the same qualities it is respected here in Malta: as a comprehensive logistics provider of a specialised service to the local and world-wide SME giving them the key to compete in the European market on the same, if not a better level of the big multinationals.
“Of course, challenges are always there. Currently, the most important challenge is to complete and activate our own logistics structure in Genoa. Meantime, we are working, together with our Maltese colleagues, to build a competitive connection from Genoa to the rest of Europe to serve the import and export needs of the local market as well as the potential volumes of other European countries utilising Genoa as port of reference with overseas.”
Meanwhile, works on Express Trailers’ Genoa hub in Trasta is now in its most important stages, where internal and external works are already at an advanced stage with the move to the new offices expected for late spring and full operationality of the warehouse services to start a month later.
What is it like to operate in logistics in Italy? Luciano knows the market very well and he does not mince his words.
“Logistics-wise, Italy is quite a complicated country, with an economic environment largely composed of specialised but small manufacturing and commercial companies that are rather spread out across the country, making logistics quite hard to manage especially also due to the presence of several international sea-ports all around the coast. This requires logistic providers to work across a network of connections and hubs at different levels, while trying to optimise their operations.
“Having said that, thanks to its geographical position and an interesting mix of customs and fiscal procedures, Italy represents the best southern European gateway for foreign companies, especially if interested in developing their presence in Europe without establishing their own entity. Genoa remains the most important and better located port and Express Trailers is well aware of this!”
“In fact, whereas the sophisticated and standardised logistics solutions offered by the big multinational providers cannot really perform in such an environment, our humble and professional approach to the requirements of our domestic and foreign clients is proving that we too can make a difference in this sector.
“Malta remains an important cluster for the handling of international trading companies’ distribution in the European market but in most cases, this reduces competitiveness in terms of efficiency and costs. This is why our re-designed model, where control is kept in Malta and a well-tailored logistics set-up is operated in Italy will increase opportunities beyond any expectations. And we are here for that!” concluded Luciano.
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