Driven by millennials, the freight forwarding company is transforming the economy by giving young entrepreneurs in the otherwise low-yielding agriculture sector access to export markets
Peri Logistics has all the bells and whistles of a modern workplace that appeals to millennials. It has flexible hours, remote working, digital and paperless processes, opportunities to learn from industry stalwarts, and fast career progression in an exciting industry. But Peri Logistics has more to offer. The company has a higher purpose: it is on a quest to uplift livelihoods in the agriculture sector by unlocking export markets, and millennials are driving that endeavour, says Founder and Managing Director Saif Yusoof, who is a millennial himself.
Your company is among the Best Workplaces for Millennials in Sri Lanka. What makes your company attractive to millennials on the hunt for employers who place importance on their needs, values and lifestyle choices?
Peri Logistics was founded in 2008 to serve a long-felt market need: integrated logistics services for perishables such as fruits, vegetables and spices, value-added food, tuna and frozen seafood, fresh flowers and plants and even live ornamental fish.
Compared to the rest of the listed Expolanka group, which includes the global freight forwarding business, EFL, Peri Logistics operates in a dynamic, highly charged environment. Our startup mindset helped us to be nimble in our approach to finding solutions. As a young company, I would say Peri Logistics has been built and run by millennials who understand the significance of what they are achieving. They are excited to be a part of a company that is increasingly making it possible for small businesses to connect with global markets faster and cost-effectively.
They also understand the myriad of challenges that they are helping exporters surmount. Not only must they get their products to global markets on time, but there are a plethora of certifications and regulations that we help them navigate, apart from the various border-related procedures. We also run each unit like a separate company. Thereby, employees get to be entrepreneurs, and they have the opportunity to be mentored by stalwarts in the industry in the Expolanka Group.
They have the freedom to make independent decisions in daily operations, so on top of the sense of purpose, they also have the opportunity to become the best versions of themselves in the service of others and the upliftment of livelihoods and the economy.
How has the company benefited by creating a workplace that’s attractive to millennials?
Millennials were the first generation that got pulled up for spending time on Facebook or YouTube at work. We used that affinity with technology to our advantage. Because we are a team of millennials, for the most part, it was easier to introduce digital technology from the very start, enabling us to run the business efficiently and give our clients better outcomes. Based at the airport, we are at the frontlines of often frenzied activity. A young team is better at dealing with pressure. They are also better at communicating and can overcome challenges faster before they become problems for our clients. The dynamism they bring helped us grow into significant business within the Expolanka group.
Millennials care deeply about several things when it comes to choosing where to work. Can you tell us how Peri Logistics resonates with some of these values?
Work-life balance: We have inbuilt flexibility into our processes which accommodates remote working and flexible hours. Also, our investments in digital technology and paperless office lead to a better work-life balance. For the most part, we recruited people who live close to the airport for a stress-free commute.
Opportunities to explore new avenues: The dynamic nature of the industry constantly presents opportunities to learn. Our teams get to learn about their clients, their businesses, and the industries they represent. They get to know the ins and outs of perishable export goods, including various plants and fish, two growing sectors in the perishable export segment at the moment. We have a culture of learning. We have employees who started export ventures based on what they have learnt, and they are our clients now!
Career progression: The cargo typically arrives four hours before a flight, so naturally, activity picks up an intense pace. With such a short window, you need to work fast to complete the documentation and handle sensitive goods with care. Over the years, we have perfected our processes, and I am proud to say that our solutions for perishables related freight forwarding set the standards for the rest of the industry. Everyone gets involved in our team meetings where we are constantly improving operations and processes together. As a result, careers progress up the ladder much faster at Peri Logistics. I would say that we are structurally unstructured. We have a basic structure like responsibility, ownership, and supervision, but we mainly focus on empowering people to work independently and be enterprising.
They want to be part of something great: Employees at Peri Logistics are encouraged to take part in and give leadership to any of the several CSR and sustainability initiatives of the Expolanka group. However, as I noted earlier, as a team, we all believe our true calling lies in contributing to the advancement of the export sector, particularly startups and SMEs. We are looking out for young entrepreneurs who are starting to export. Most of them don’t know about exporting perishable goods. There is a tremendous opportunity to grow the SME agriculture export segment and improve the livelihoods of rural Sri Lankans. That is our vision, and that is our purpose. As a company, we are teaching young entrepreneurs to elevate their businesses to the next level. We are exploring opportunities to take this model to other countries where many toil in low-yielding agriculture work.
Over the years, Peri Logistics has built a global reputation for perishables exports out of Sri Lanka. We are probably the only Sri Lankan enterprise dedicated to perishable exports, which creates a niche. In this niche, through our learning curve, we managed to become the number one player in the country. We feel like we have achieved a certain level of expertise. The industry is evolving, and it needs support locally: that is where we come in. We are ambitious and experimenting with entering two or three markets over the next few years. There are European development agencies who want to partner with us, convinced that we have the tools to help elevate the livelihoods of people employed in agriculture. For millennials who care about making an impact and improving people’s lives, Peri Logistics is a place where they can actively do that