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Appointments: Freightways focuses on faster e.com deliveries

By Graeme Kennedy

Friday 31st March 2000

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Dean Bracewell BACK IN THE FOLD: Dean Bracewell returns after a six-year break in other industries
Freightways has recruited from within to appoint Dean Bracewell new managing director following the surprise departure of former Lion Breweries boss Kevin Stratful after only three months in the top job.

Mr Bracewell was general manager of courier subsidiary Post Haste after 14 years with Freightways when Mr Stratful joined the company. He concedes he and all other senior executives were potential candidates for the position.

Freightways was Mr Stratful's first venture into the service sector after a career in the consumer business. He has since joined Telecom as group general manager for sales and service.

Mr Bracewell, however, knows the transport and delivery business well. He joined Freightways straight from school as a commercial trainee in the early 1980s when the Alan Gibbs and Trevor Farmer-owned company was a widely diversified business with interests in timber retailing, pallet hire and security as well as transport.

The last of the non-core subsidiaries was sold three years ago, leaving Freightways a finely tuned and highly focused express delivery company, Mr Bracewell said.

A pioneer of the New Zealand courier business 35 years ago, its subsidiaries - which include NZ Couriers, Sub 60, Castle Parcels and Security Express - have almost 50% of the market with a growing turnover of more than $160 million.

Listed in 1997, Freightways is owned by the Australian Ausdoc Group and operates around 1000 vehicles nationwide and a fleet of four Convair CV-580 freighters on inter-island services.

Mr Bracewell left Freightways in the mid-1980s and opened the Jungle Cafe BYO restaurant in Ponsonby - not far from Mr Stratful's St Arnaud bar-restaurant - before an extensive Asian and European OE, working in dozens of jobs along "the standard overseas Kiwi trail."

Back home, he joined Enterprise Staff Consultants to try the professional services sector and was promoted to executive manager before returning to Freightways in 1991 as Daily Freightways sales manager. He managed Parcel Line, New Zealand Couriers and Post Haste before gaining the top job after Mr Stratful's departure.

"The six-year break allowed me to try some different things in different industries so when I returned to Freightways I was really clear this was the company and industry I wanted to build my career in," he said.

"The courier market has constantly changed and that will continue with the coming e-commerce revolution and opportunities arising from the internet. The industry has moved from servicing the financial services sector, where it was very manual and moved tonnes of paper, to delivering product.

"In the e.com world there's no such thing as a virtual carton - customers can order and buy goods on the net but someone's got to deliver it."

The internet, he said, was shortening the traditional supply chain involving manufacturer, distributor, retailer and customer to manufacturer-customer direct, a move that created more demands on freight delivery operators.

US experience had found while customers could order and buy goods instantly on the net, delivery often took several days - a time lag New Zealanders used to higher levels of service would not accept, he said.

"Our biggest challenge will be servicing that last mile and while the industry has had to innovate to meet changing marketing patterns over the years, it now has to innovate again for e.com. You've got to have the tools to survive in this business and we have made huge investments in new technology in the past few years to provide the solutions the e.com community wants," Mr Bracewell said.

"We have a powerful base in the delivery business, an excellent culture and a 35-year focus on our core operating principles - now we have added the technology to become even more powerful."

He said the company would work closely with its clients on developing new tools for the e.com age - "we won't race ahead of the game but advance with the customers and their needs. There's no point in being ahead of them so we will keep pace.

"Internet business and e.com is already happening here and will follow overseas trends although the New Zealand uptake will be quicker than in other countries once it gets on a roll.

"It won't be a big bang, just steady growth."

Dean Bracewell
Position: Managing director, Freightways Express
Age: 38
Marital status: Married, two children
Pastime: Boating, diving, all sports

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