Managing a super-peak: Perspectives from the CEO of a strategic supplier

posted on 28th September 2021
Managing a super-peak: Perspectives from the CEO of a strategic supplier

This year’s peak season will be a monumental challenge unlike any other, believes ACL Airshop’s Steve Townes. But it’s also an opportunity for strong companies to excel, with the right attitude. He shares his advice on how to bring out the best in a company’s most-valuable asset, its people

It is imminent. In fact, it is already starting…
‘Super-Peak’ is upon us, worldwide in air cargo. This year’s rushed and gargantuan peak season will be a monumental challenge unlike any other. Like a global wave of air shipments and rising demand, this surging tide already has momentum and mass.
There are convergent factors which enhance and accelerate the high demand for air cargo this year. Think of it as a perfect storm of mega-trends. Belly loads are still at least partially hampered by Covid around the world. Ocean ships are backed up in harbours across the globe. Supply chains are disrupted, yet world trade continues, turbo-charged by e-commerce. Consumers in all developed nations are ordering more and more from home, and they want it delivered quickly. Make your company’s list of accelerants that are causing your own business to be reeling in these currents. Whether you are flying or serving those who fly, the challenges affect the entire industry ecosystem.

Rising with the wave
What are smart companies doing? Rise with this wave, over-perform for customers! Manage the natural “frictions” that occur when there is sky-high demand, not enough lift, slowed deliveries and rising prices with suppliers, and unprecedented workforce tensions caused by everybody on your payroll working harder despite over 18 months of pandemic stressors.
This is a rare moment that demands more flexibility and resilience than ever in any cargo-centric enterprise. In our just-in-time industry, especially right now, speed is a competitive weapon. Whichever company can answer the urgent call from a customer who is suffering those same stress factors – but needs your equipment or services immediately – that’s who will win in this high-speed fight that we are all living through. It’s like watching a fast-edited movie… but we are in it.

Prescriptions for success
Turnaround experts and crisis managers would call this year’s “tsunami of air cargo” a classic opportunity for all companies involved up and down the food chain. The prescriptions for success would be along these lines, even from my own experiences over the years:
Sirens blaring: Manage like a crisis, a full-tilt turnaround.
Speed of execution: Energise leaders and staff to act with speed and precision for customers.
Over-communicate: Omnidirectionally to all stakeholders, tell people what you’re doing.
Adjust tactics: What worked 2 years ago won’t help you in Super-Peak. Adapt!
Accelerate processes: Order-to-delivery times can be shortened in resilient companies.
Mind the cash: Fast growth causes some companies to run out of capital. Be mindful.
Take care of the troops: Now more than ever, your people are the #1 determinant of success.
Positive attitudes and leadership
There is a bottom-line takeaway when facing the looming Super Peak.
It’s about people, culture, client service, positive spirit, attitudes… leadership. Our industry’s workforces worldwide have never seen so many divergent, confusing, overwhelming, ulcer-inducing gas pains. Yet many companies will succeed despite the predicted tide of turmoil.
As the famous management guru Peter Drucker once said: “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.” The best companies in the world over-perform when things get tough. That stems directly from the collective will and spirit of their workforce. People are the priceless soul of any successful enterprise. As a sleeves-up CEO in our award-winning enterprise, I know in my heart that our people will amaze themselves and delight our customers during Super-Peak. Because that is who we are.