Logistics is a fiercely competitive game but one Singapore firm seems to have found the formula for rapid growth.
GLE Logistics has transformed itself from a small enterprise with a turnover of $6.5 million into a major player in just three years, increasing revenue fourfold in the process and opening branches in Malaysia, Vietnam and Shanghai.
The firm came in 14th on a list of Singapore's 50 fastest-growing companies released yesterday by DP Information Group.
The annual list identifies companies that have achieved at least 10 per cent turnover growth every year for the past three years, while also making profits each year.
The qualifying companies are then ranked by their three-year compounded annual growth rate, with the top 50 receiving an award.
German chemical giant Lanxess topped DP Information Group's rankings this year, recording a three-year compounded annual growth rate of 6,246.8 per cent - the highest recorded in the award's 13-year history.
Lanxess, which posted sales of more than $1.6 billion in Singapore last year, has grown rapidly since opening its new butyl rubber plant on Jurong Island.
But the real story this year is the increased presence of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) like GLE Logistics in the list - up from six last year to 17.
GLE's managing director, Mr Ken Ngan, told The Straits Times that the company owes its success to its strategy of moving into new business segments, and "belief and trust in our people".
Its core business is supply chain management and warehousing, but it has also expanded into project and commodity logistics and relocation, among other segments.
"If we put our eggs all into one basket, things can become very volatile.
"Instead, we chose to grow sideways," said Mr Ngan, who co-founded the company in 2006.
The firm, which now employs almost 100 people, maintains a lean management team and places an emphasis on teamwork, he added.
All of the 10 staff who joined the company in its early days are still employees.
GLE Logistics has invested almost $500,000 in software that tracks its shipments and inventory in real time.
"In the service sector, regardless of the size of the company, quick decisions are essential; any delays cost a lot of money," said Mr Ngan.
Ms Chen Yew Nah, the managing director of DP Information Group, said last year's list was "dominated by large multinational firms" - there were 20 companies on the list with sales of more than $1 billion.
This year, the number of billion-dollar companies has fallen to 15 while SME representation rose.
"The key to growth for SMEs is usually carving out a niche in the market by doing something better, faster or more economically.
"So achieving fast growth is a reflection of the company's innovation rather than its market dominance," said Ms Chen.
"Given the high level of merger and acquisition activity in Singapore lately, these SMEs may be prime targets for larger companies looking to rapidly grow sales, while others may decide to do the acquiring themselves."