For this week’s interview, we sat down with Kurt Dobbelaere from Calgary, Canada. He talked to us about launching a new business right before the pandemic, the lack of trust between freight forwarders and their exceptional office location.


How did you get started in the logistics industry and how did you end up with your current company?

I grew up close to Zeebrugge, Belgium, the biggest Ro-Ro port in Europe and started working for a car carrier right after graduating university. Many years, various countries and challenges in logistics later, I find that my experience and personality are essential as a freight forwarder.

How did COVID-19 impact your business?

Our company started weeks before COVID hit. For everyone in the supply chain it was a challenge but the upheaval caused by the pandemic was a blessing in disguise for us.  We noticed that a lot of importers/exporters had challenges with their then freight providers, who couldn’t adapt to the new reality. We grew up during COVID and we were able to help these customers better than their old providers. It helped us grow faster than we were anticipating or even hoped for.

What do you like most about being a member of our logistics network?

I’ve been part of bigger networks where you have to manage agents requests and often it feels like you’re wasting time as they’ve probably reached out to 10 other forwarders. Alfa is more personable. You know the requests you are working on are actually likely to materialize as long as you can offer excellent service at a good price.

The relationship matters. We’re fairly new to Alfa but like I mentioned before, I hope Alfa members will learn to trust us and know they have a trustworthy partner in Canada. I know when I meet customers it’s a strength when I can confidently say that we have an awesome partner in the country they are thinking of.

What do you like about being a freight forwarder?

It gets lost working behind a desk but we freight forwarders help the world trade. Whether we help a large corporation do things better and provide a competitive advantage or help a first time exporter who put his/her heart and soul into their product, it’s rewarding to think we played our part in making the world slightly richer.

If you could change one thing about the logistics industry, what would it be?

Trust, I understand we’re in a business model that deals with a lot of countries, cultures, habits, rules and regulations. But I often feel that a higher amount of mutual trust would benefit everyone. I want our business partners or customers to know that when I say ‘Trust me’ I mean it. I don’t say it because it benefits me, I say it because ultimately I firmly believe it’s the right way to do something.

How do you set yourself apart from your competitors?

We’re located in a shopping mall. Many forwarders hide from their customers in industrial areas or big office buildings. Operational people are scared to face their customers. That’s why they have a sales department to connect with potential customers. Our customers often just walk in unsolicited to discuss their imports or exports or just say hey. We love it.

— Thanks, Kurt!