Cover Story / March 2019

The Face of Kamadjaja Logistics

But this large family business has humble beginnings in Ende, a small coastal town on Flores Island in East Nusa Tenggara. It started when family patriarch Hura Kamadjaja was tasked with tending his parent’s small shop, which sold daily necessities, such as sugar and soap, shipped in from Java.

But the young Hura soon realized that more money could be made on transporting the commodities to Flores, instead of sitting idle in the shop. On the ship’s return journey, it could also carry local produce, such as copra and coffee, which was in high demand in Surabaya, East Java.

“As an archipelagic country, you will never run out of demand for logistics,” says Ivy Kamadjaja, Hura’s daughter, recalling his often-repeated words.

Today Ivy and her brother Ivan run the company. He serves as chief executive, having replaced their father, while Ivy, as his deputy, spearheads the company’s marketing efforts.

The logistics landscape was vastly different from when the company first started in 1968. Those days were marked by bloody turf war in ports, which nearly claimed Hura’s life several times, if not for his reliable Madurese workers who doubled as his bodyguards. But now, that is just a distant memory. However, as a woman, there were a times Ivy avoided going to the port alone without a team of workers to accompany her.

But for Kamadjaja Logistics today, it is all about technology–artificial intelligence, the internet of things, radio frequency identification, automation, improved global positioning systems and more–to help the company in its quest for speed and greater efficiency, Ivy says.

“When I started working at the company in 1998, nobody here was familiar with computers and email. Today, we are all about advanced technology,” she adds.

Opportunities for women also abound, as logistics today demand more brain power than raw muscle. “As long as you have the logic and passion for doing the work, everything should be fine,” she says, encouraging more women to take get involved in the industry.

Kamadjaja Logistics now has an extensive network across Indonesia with 29 distribution centers in 16 cities, serving more than 300 clients. Ivy says this is the result of the company›s more than 50 years’ experience in the industry and its intimate understanding of local culture.

“As a local company, we know about the local culture. Indonesia is unique. So many islands and so many ports. You have to know how to behave in different regions, because people working in small ports are very different from those in the large ports,” Ivy says.

The company’s crown jewel is K-Log Park, an 180,000-square-meter logistics park and distribution center in Bekasi, West Java, which offers domestic and international freight forwarding, a container yard, warehousing, cold-chain storage facilities and toll manufacturing all in one place. The toll manufacturing service, which involves clients just shipping materials or semi-finished goods to Kamadjaja Logistics to process and pack, streamlines client’s operations, thus lowering overall costs.

“The principle of Kamadjaja Logistics is how to provide logistics services at the most cost-effective way possible,” Ivy says.

This primary focus on cost efficiency also results in Ivy’s cautious stance on providing logistical services to small and medium enterprises. While acknowledging that SME growth is now in ascendance, thanks to the growth of e-commerce, Ivy says she has yet to see their volumes matching those of Kamadjaja Logistics› existing clients.

“It’s still hard to make small deliveries from multiple SMEs efficient. In logistics, it’s about economies of scale,” she explains.

However, there a few industry players engaged in that segment, such as Iruna eLogistics, founded by DHL, and state-owned Pos Indonesia. E-commerce platform Bukalapak is meanwhile also investing Rp 1 trillion ($70 million) in the development of a network of logistical services for SMEs across Indonesia.

They have all set their eyes on delivering e-commerce sales, which may reach $130 billion by 2020, according to an estimate by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. With logistical costs making up as much as 24 percent of an item›s total price in Indonesia, e-commerce may present a potential market worth $30 billion for companies to tap.

“I think we need to collaborate instead of try to compete with each other. It’s very hard to execute. But it’s the intention to collaborate, because we cannot do it alone,” Ivy says.

As the de facto face of the company, Ivy spends much of her time participating in talks and attending business meetings across Indonesia.

In June last year, British Ambassador Moazzam Malik appointed her as his country’s honorary consul in Surabaya, to serve as liaison between the two countries, especially in economics.

“My role is more on the commercial and business side; how to strengthen the relationship between the UK and Indonesia. Of course, I must be balanced in representing Indonesian and UK interests,” she says.

Ivy, who has a bachelor of business degree in marketing and management from the University of Technology, Sydney, and a bachelor of commerce degree in marketing and management from the University of Wollongong, has won several awards over the years, including Best Industry Marketing Champion 2017 for the logistics sector from Marketeer of the Year.

For her, new targets have been set to take Kamadjaja Logistics to an even higher level. “Today, we have several partners overseas. We would like to be in the Asean region going forward,” she says.