Logistics Doesn’t Have to be ‘Boring’

CHANGING PERCEPTIONS

Logistics Doesn’t Have to be ‘Boring’

The challenging nature of the logistics industry means it’s hard to attract and retain talent, especially the younger workforce. But Datuk Michael Tio of PKT Logistics has perfected a formula to making logistics an attractive career choice, by first, keeping employees' work-life balance in check.

Logistics has a reputation for its dirty, grimy and dangerous working environment where workers do low skill and back breaking job. It is not an attractive career choice, particularly for the young - a problem recognised by homegrown logistics provider PKT Logistics that found it difficult to hire and retain talent. 

“We have an acute shortage of talent in the market because the industry is deemed to be very boring, dirty and hot. It’s not a very sexy title to hold,” says Datuk Michael Tio, Chief Executive and Managing Director of PKT Logistics. 

Tio has set out to change the weak perception on the logistics industry by first, raising the standards of facilities, and work culture at PKT Logistics. He started by introducing ‘cool’ workplaces where employees can relax, enjoy the corporate facilities like gym, spa, gaming room, while feeling at home.

Malaysia should be the next ASEAN logistics hub but in order to do so, we need to change a lot of things. We want to change first

“We decided to build iconic buildings and concept warehouses,” says Tio. “It’s like walking into a Google office.” PKT’s One Logistics Hub development in Shah Alam comprises three nautical-themed buildings called The Ship, The Waves and The Lighthouse - a homage to the company's history as trading house, founded by Tio's father in Port Klang.

Tio is committed to building environmentally friendly warehouses. The Lighthouse, equipped with LED lighting, solar panels and rainwater harvesting, is certified under the Green Building Index as a Gold Standard Warehouse. “We want to play a role to transform the logistics industry in Malaysia. Malaysia should be the next ASEAN logistics hub but in order to do so, we need to change a lot of things. We want to change first,” says Tio.

“So when our competitors want to build another warehouse, they will want to benchmark against PKT.”

To attract young talent, PKT Logistics also offers flexible working hours to help keep employees' work-life balance in check. According to Tio, the company puts health as the company’s core culture, proposed by his 1000-strong workforce. “We decided that ‘healthy lifestyle at work’ would be our first culture in the company. I made big investments towards that direction by setting up gyms at every office.”

“The gyms overlooks the best view and have nice changing rooms. That shows how serious we are in taking care of their health,” says Tio. 

Employees are encouraged to use the gymnasium at any time of the day. “Once your work is finished, you can go to the gym or anywhere - you don’t have to pretend to be at work. We want to create a happy working environment, and a flexible one. We have two working hours. You can start at either 8:30am or 9.30am." PKT has many incentives in place to encourage a healthy workforce. For instance, employees who clock in 12 hours of a month in the gym are eligible for a day off on Saturday.

"Students who come here for tours are impressed," says Tio. "They end up following us on Facebook." Tio has one million followers on Facebook while PKT Logistics, over 300,000.

"We tell them about our office culture, our growth and how cool our warehouses are. So, when they graduate, they would want to work for us. Our corporate story travels by word of mouth," says Tio. "Even our pantries have fun concepts!" Unique themes like Lake Agnes Teahouse, Kirawira Tea Tent and Taku Glacier Lodge are inspired by the company's annual management trip, another corporate perk offered by PKT Logistics. 

PKT Logistics is also looking to transform the transport industry by making trucking a professional career option through its Smart Trucker programme. ‘We employ graduates to become truck drivers where they make RM4000 to RM6000 a month, for four years.” At the end of the duration, the graduates would be promoted to an executive position. The main objective of this program is to transform the transport industry by promoting graduates as truck and prime mover drivers.

We employ graduates to become truck drivers where they make RM4000 to RM6000 a month, for four years

Tio took over PKT Logistics from his father Datuk Tio Sook Keo in 1996. Since then, PKT Logistics has undergone transformation programmes as the company targets to hit RM1 billion revenue by 2020.

One of its key vision in the transformation programme is Wawasan 60:40, aimed at capturing revenue ratio between automotive (60%) and non-automotive (40%) segment. Non-automotive is primarily being driven by fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), food and beverage (F&B), e-commerce, renewable energy and education sectors. PKT Logistics owns Peninsula College.

Meanwhile, the Wawasan ASEAN 30 vision is aimed at obtaining revenue contribution from automotive logistics of 30% by countries outside Malaysia. PKT Logistics has presence in South Korea, Taiwan, India and in most ASEAN countries. In February 2019, the group signed a service agreement with Japan’s Daiso Industries to operate the latter’s regional distribution centre  in Port Klang.

Tio says the company is still mulling to list on the local-bourse but stopped short of giving a time frame.