Sunday, 3 August 2014

New economy rule: You are only as good as your last job

In a commoditised, internet enabled, global economy where competition abounds, loyalty is evaporating fast and brands matter less.

The consumers mindset has changed as they know the power in any transaction rests primarily with them, the buyer, and no longer the seller. Via a smartphone it is easier than ever before for them to go somewhere else, price check and short list another supplier to ultimately satisfy their needs.

This reality is causing business loyalty to fast become "old school" and buyers are typically unforgiving because now they can afford to be. Therefore the value a modern buyer attaches to a long business relationship with years of good service they may have received is diminishing.

The test now is their last experience with buying from your company so you better make it good for them. If you don't your buyer will not only be gone but worse still their experience in dealing with you can end up in online reviews and damage your business reputation further.

That it is why these days, you are only as good as your last job.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton

Friday, 1 August 2014

Mining in Australia and Canada...It's normalising, not crashing!

From my perspective as a mere shipping bloke, my view of what's happening with mining in Australia and Canada isn't a crash as some of my younger clients think, it's actually a "normalisation". At the risk of showing my age I have been through a downturn or cycle like this before and it's deja vu for me.

The mother of all mining booms has played out over the last ten years or so driven by big demand from China, which is still large, however the accompanying investment boom in mining has slowed radically to what I consider to be more normal non-boom dynamics.



Commodity prices are down and while most contracts are written in US dollars, miners in Canada and Australia are suffering from historically high exchange rates when they repatriate their profits. On top of that, the OH&S environment is out of control and salaries have been too. I am not saying safety isn't important but insane and completely noncommercial things have been going on that only serve to increase production costs and feed the voracious "Safety" industry.

In Australia sadly we are seeing lots of people losing their jobs and salaries "normalising" too. Paying plant operators circa $140k+ is simply not sustainable and anybody on these sorts of salaries surely must have considered this wouldn't last for them?

From a shipping perspective the amount of mining equipment moving is well down. No wonder really with the amount of gear parked up or mothballed currently. A client in Perth told me there are over 500 mining trucks idle right now in Western Australia. We are seeing increased exports of equipment which could gain pace if the AUD would normalise too BUT...which market in the world could possibly consume this much gear? 

The Depth Logistics Shipping Index for May and June is very telling. May recorded a 68% drop from the previous twelve month high and the index just released for June recorded the lowest import value of equipment into Australia in the history of the index. Only $147m! To put this into perspective some of my clients bigger trucks can cost $4m each.

I was talking to a mate in Canada this morning. He is very nervous about the Canadian stock market as basically the Canadian index overall is doing well but the miners, who traditionally have contributed greatly to the strength of the index are not. He and his buddies are waiting for the correction and with a "seemingly" recovering US economy they think the next move up with US interest rates will be the trigger. Perhaps Australia will be the same?

Meantime, space on ships for my clients is pretty easy to come by and freight rates are still at historically low, 1980's type levels.

All for now,

+Brad Skelton