19.10.2021 | Industry matters

Multimodal Special

On The Swain Group’s second outing to Multimodal, we catch up with group managing director, Matthew Deer, who is looking forward to launching new services at this year’s show.

How did you get into the industry, and what keeps you in it?

I was very fortunate to have been given an opportunity at a very early stage in my career to operate my own trades when I joined Nedlloyd in 1993. This was a great time to be based in the UK because shipping lines were moving into new trade lanes, and most of the global container trade management made a move to set up in the UK. For the next 12 years, I worked with several other container companies, mainly in trade management and, for a short period, global accounts, until I decided to move to a global logistics provider. This then introduced me to other products – air, road, warehousing and supply chain management.

I would encourage anyone to get into logistics. I’ve travelled worldwide throughout my career and had the privilege to see different cultures and different ways to do business. Training has always been available, which has definitely helped me grow. I had the honour to get sponsored in 2009 to complete my MSc in supply chain management and logistics.

It breaks my heart to see so many graduates come out of university with massive debts, which they’ll be paying for the rest of their careers. In my view, there is another way, and we should be selling a route into logistics at schools and colleges better.

With the return of Multimodal this year, what are your hopes for the exhibition?

This will be our second year as The Swain Group, and we are really looking forward to a successful exhibition. 2019 was a chance for us to demonstrate our diverse transportation businesses, all of which are very distinctive.

For this year, we have some new services we’re launching at Multimodal, and it’s always a great place to meet new customers and catch up with friends in the industry.

Experiencing some of its most turbulent times, if you could wave a magic wand and fix three issues facing the industry, what would they be?

• Recruitment – this has been a significant obstacle for a number of years.

• The pay across the industry can differ hugely, and we need to make candidates aware of all the opportunities available in logistics if they are to have the opportunity to grow.

• I often ask myself why I’ve continued to stay in logistics when we struggle to recruit. Do we have the same career development opportunities as we did ten or twenty years ago? The sector has definitely changed, but I feel there is more scope available now than before.

What lessons do you think the sector has learnt having kept Britain moving throughout the pandemic?

Firstly, we need to have stronger industry associations representing small to medium-sized firms that are still a major part of the UK logistics industry.

We also need to ensure we have the resources to remain agile to implement change with constantly evolving market forces.

Five years from now, will the future be bright for UK logistics?

With net-zero on all our strategic targets, this will be a huge challenge with the timeframe set by the government. As a significant UK transportation company, we recognise that the use of alternative fuel and electric vehicles requires infrastructure development, and we are already testing and closely monitoring how best to position The Swain Group.

Matthew Deer, The Swain Group

Visit The Swain Group on stand 8040, Multimodal 2021.