Teamwork recipe for Samskip Riga


In the haulage industry, an employer that is committed to its employees for the long term and offers a clear career path for truckers is a valuable commodity. Finding one which sees teamwork as the key to delivering freight on time, rather than shunting responsibility on to the driver is truly precious, according to Aigars Eksa, Transport Planner for Sweden at the Samskip Riga office.

It is a collective approach instilled in Aigars on joining Samskip nine years ago as a truck driver, and one which the Riga organisation has typified since the organisation (formerly Van Dieren Maritime; now Samskip Sia) opened its doors in 1994. 

Aigars and his colleagues have regular meetings with Samskip's haulage team in Genemuiden, the Netherlands to consolidate a teamwork ethos that is group-wide. This year, staff from Riga have also toured key Samskip hubs for an update on network developments and operational issues, and to consolidate teambuilding.

A multimodal family

The Riga operation is distinguished not only by long service but by attachments that cross generations. Aigars' father is also a Samskip trucker. In fact, European trucking knowledge runs deep and experience is shared within a tight-knit and committed planning group now controlling 190 Samskip vehicles. Other father-and-son trucking combinations include the Balahtins; the Zarovs; the Opincans; the Briedis; Blinovs, Nikiforovs and Vinohodovs; not to mention the Bartkevic brothers.

“My father joined at the suggestion of friends in the trucking community in 2005, when his previous haulage employer ran out of work,” says Aigars. “I followed in 2008 at his suggestion; I was looking for stability at a time when the markets were unstable, but also for job security. Building on the mentoring relationship with my father, I learned that there is a big and powerful driver community and that I could ask questions at any time.”

Aigars has since been joined at Samskip by his older and younger brothers, prompted by similar motivations. Now, he is bringing his trucking know-how to bear on optimised planning. He is part of a multilingual team whose members must be available after hours in case there are problems on the road.

Unit load expertise

“I know all about the trucks, trailers and the different containers, reefer units and flatracks, as well as the EU regulations and the tasks a driver typically faces. I also understand the driver's life; they can explain to me what's happening on the road and I can respond in a way that we all understand and which saves time, based on my own experience.”

Aigars says that, since leaving front-line driver duties, the driving experience has become much ‘more intense', with a greater number of trucks working shorter distances and engaging with a greater number of terminals. In 2005, Samskip's multimodal Swedish business was steered through one terminal, while drivers could count on one accommodation facility. Today, the company deals with seven Swedish terminals, more if required, and has four accommodation centres in Sweden. It is a demonstration that the multimodal services offered by Samskip are securing new market share, he says.

Combined transport career

“When drivers apply for a job here, they need to know that the work is a little bit different to other companies, where trucks run a lot of miles. Our task is to go more green and make road trips shorter.”

One thing that will not change is Riga's recruitment strategy. “The people joining are chosen carefully,” says Aigars. “We think of work as like a second home, so we always ask around to see how people think a recruit will fit in with their second family.”

You can learn more about Samskip's Swedish rail services here.

Previous Expert Opinion: Elaine Pelisson, The Route of Talent

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