The freight forwarding and logistics sectors across Europe have been under pressure since the financial crisis of 2007. A number succumbed to the crisis and today, lower rates and intense competition characterize the industry. For Antwerp-based T.O.L. Natie, remaining profitable is a challenge it seeks to overcome by offering superior customer service.
T.O.L Natie began as a small, independent company focused on handling local goods. Over time, it grew into a successful international forwarding company, handling about 5,000 containers per year—modest in terms of the global entities it competes with.
“More and more customers are beginning to appreciate that big is not always better,” said Dirk Coppens, T.O.L. Natie owner. “For us, they are not a number, they have a face. We know all our customers and they know us.”
That business philosophy dictates that T.O.L. Natie must provide its customers not only personalized, but exceptional services. That’s why it first turned to Progress Partner Organi more than 20 years ago and again recently to upgrade to a state-of-the-art system that manages the entire logistics supply chain, from booking to invoicing.
For two decades, T.O.L. Natie has used Organi solutions for logistics, accounting and warehouse management. Recently, the company upgraded its old COBOL-based applications, Bevex and ORAS II, to Organi Logistic System (OLS) and Oras III, both based on the Progress® OpenEdge® platform, Organi’s preferred partner for supplying cutting-edge development and database technology.
“The COBOL environment we were using was outdated,” said Kristof De Smedt, Director at T.O.L. Natie. “It was actually more of a word processor than an IT system, without functionalities for warehouse management. After a thorough market comparison, we decided to continue our long-standing relationship with Organi.
“They developed a new system for booking, managing, following up and invoicing that covered all the steps in the logistics supply chain,” he continued. “The fact that accounting is integrated with file and customs management constituted great added value to us and our customers. Organi offered us a total solution.”
Organi’s Oras III met many of T.O.L. Natie’s requirements, including the key requirement of having fully integrated accounting functionality within the logistics system. Oras III also includes the Digital Information System, a document management system where all incoming and outgoing documents are archived online and available through all applicable modules, making data readily accessible to everyone in the company. T.O.L. Natie also implemented Organi’s Analyzer, a tool based on Qlikview technology that has extensive reporting possibilities for rapid and detailed analyses.
“The biggest advantage is that all Organi applications are integrated in this system and there is one link between invoicing, file management and stock control,” Kristof De Smedt said. “We can create documents, send reports to customers, give instructions to our carriers and calculate cost prices from one central file.
“The result,” he continued, “is that we committed to a service level that bigger companies cannot provide. That service level must be reflected in the documents that we send. That uniformity is the showcase of our company and strengthens our image. We can provide a complete package to our customers, thanks to the flexibility and performance of the Organi solutions.”
The cooperation with Organi is continuing from generation to generation.
“We are delighted that we have been an Organi customer for 20 years,” Coppens said. “It is a relationship that has grown through ups and downs, but we have always had the necessary support. Organi is like a brother or sister that has always been there for us. Furthermore, they continue to maintain that personal service and even improve it where possible.”