From a single desk to a fleet all over the world
With nothing more than a phone and a desk, Aleksandrs Gnedovs started the container supplying company Conway in 2018. Three years forward, the fleet counts almost 4,000 units, three branches and a representative office in China. “The secret is having a reliable network of partners and customers on your way”, says the 32-year-old entrepreneur.
The Latvian national had just lived in Rotterdam for 6 years, where he built up experience in the logistics industry. But when he learnt that he was going to become a father, he decided to relocate to his hometown: Riga. “I just wanted to be closer to home, to family.”
This was good fortune for the Baltic country, as he used all his experience and customer base to start on his own, this time focusing on equipment supply in the Baltic region and CIS countries. The first office was established in Latvia, the second in Russia. Later on, another branch opened in Vilnius, Lithuania. “Our main focus is to provide a constant supply of equipment on the route to Russia and China and back to Europe.”
Conway is a container leasing company. Currently, it has a fleet of 3,716 containers, of which 60 per cent is privately owned and 40 per cent customer-owned. And this fleet continues to grow; by the end of 2021, the company will exceed 4000 containers. What is more, 35-40 per cent is newly built equipment. “These days, when the price difference between old and new equipment is not that high, we are trying to replace our used containers with new ones. “Our direct cooperation with container manufacturers in China allows us to do this, which during the pandemic has become even stronger than before.”
Other than conventional containers, the company leases special and reefer equipment.
“In the Baltics, we are keeping cooperation with end-users for specials and reefers containers. There is always a shortage of supply, this is a challenge which we try to solve by closely staying in touch with customers and suppliers, keeping an eye on stocks.”
‘Your network, that is what pushes you’
The importance of close connections to customers and partners is what, according to Gnedovs, lies at the heart of his success story. This is really fundamental. Your network pushes you forward. You need to be reliable and true in what you do. That is why we grew so fast”, he explains.
The other ingredient for success is passion, he explains. The Latvian entrepreneur did not have a family business behind or a large fortune. It was just hard work, enthusiasm that drove him to set up his own business. “I just started with buying one container. And then another one. The rest followed soon.”
‘Just do it’
“Anyone who is passionate about logistics could do the same”, he believes. “There is always a first time. I had never hired a person: now, I have a team of 15 people. I had also never opened an office in China, and now I have an office in Qingdao. You just have to do it.”
Asked about his next step, Gnedovs says he wants to open another branch in the Baltic region: in Estonia, to be precise. “Expanding the network for leasing and applying container logistics. But the focus is on the Baltic region. I am hoping to bring the know-how I gained to this area.”