Why 2015 Was a Great Year for HPL-Apollo
2015 was a big year for HPL-Apollo. Among its accomplishments and "firsts:" the company expanded its Los Angeles refrigeration space by 10,000 square feet and made important improvements to its facility to better serve its customer's needs; they started new businesses such as customs clearance services for flowers and produce, ocean freight exports coordinated out of its San Francisco branch, wet pack production for flowers and blueberries sorting services.
HPL-Apollo also managed to increase its gross profits by 26%, thereby leading them to their most notable accomplishment of 2015: it marked the best year since the company's inception in terms of sales and profitability.
Chief Operating Officer Ivo Skorin explained that the company's specialty – providing logistic solutions for perishables such as fruit or flowers – is costly to operate, and having state-of-the-art coolers, trucks, facilities, etc. is crucial to its success. Skorin said that while the company had been growing steadily in the past few years, much of that income went to paying its overhead costs. Additionally, he said, the company is still relatively young – HPL-Apollo is only five years old, while its competitors have an average of 25 years in business. Having achieved this level of success within such a short time is a huge accomplishment.
"It's been a very tough, competitive market, but we're very happy to see how when you offer good service, customers stay with you, and more and more start coming because they understand that we're doing a good job here," he said.
Skorin said the company had set goals for the type of business they hoped to secure, and they were successful in getting those contracts. "We got the business we were looking for, so this year, we're going to continue with that focus on exports, and we are targeting more business to the Middle East, Asia and Europe," he said.
He also pointed to the opening of the company's San Francisco branch as a contributor to their success. "Strategically, San Francisco is so important because in our business, most of our customers like to buy closer to the Bay Area, and sometimes closer to Los Angeles," he said. "Having these two offices allows us to give our customers a lot more flexibility."
HPL-Apollo is a joint venture between Apollo Freight (Mercury) and Hellman Worldwide Logistics, and also in 2015, Skorin said they saw a noticeable uptick in the business coming from Hellman's partners around the world – Dubai, Australia, Miami, Peru, Argentina, Chile, etc.
"We think that that's the future," he said. "That's the reason we entered into this great partnership with Hellman: we understood that in order to succeed today, you need to be global. You need to offer customers global solutions, and door to door services, we are reaching that level through this joint venture, and it's great to see."
When asked why he thought HPL-Apollo had been able to grow so steadily, Skorin attributed the company's success to three things: excellent customer service, having a global network and last-but-not-least, its people. "We're very committed to this work," he said, adding that warehouses are operating around the clock and management is available 24/7.
"We really work very hard; customers notice that we're very passionate about this, and I guess that brings more and more business," he said.