Andrey Smirnov: Life is Movement!
Andrey Smirnov, General Director of Customs logistics Agency, ACEX Alliance member in the Samara and Ulyanovsk regions. The company specializes in the organization and implementation of export and import transactions.
- Your specific area is foreign trade outsourcing. It involves a whole range of services for the client. What services do you provide to your client?
– Our clients are companies whose managers accurately formulate their needs for the purchase of a particular product and finance a deal. Our task is to ensure delivery in exact accordance with the the agreed term and price of the product. Our specialists continuously accompany foreign trade transactions at all stages: from ordering goods from a foreign manufacturer to delivering them to the customer's warehouse after completing customs clearance on the territory of Russia. The same thing happens when outsourcing an export transaction. In this case, our customer is a foreign partner, and we provide the purchase and export of the Russian goods that they need outside of our country, as well as VAT refunds.
– What are the advantages of this service?
- Outsourcing reduces costs and reduces financial risks. This approach simplifies personnel accounting, reduces the burden on accounting and allows you to more effectively generate the cost of goods produced by the customer.
– What other products does your company offer?
– Having mastered the outsourcing of foreign trade transactions, we began to develop outsourcing of external logistics for manufacturers of automotive components in the Volga region. My eldest son Denis is developing this direction, he is also the Director of our company's branch in Togliatti. Denis received a higher education at the State University of management, graduated from the faculty of transport organization. The level of his professional knowledge and a more innovative approach to work is a necessary component of the development of our company. We regularly employ a young employee, most often a University graduate. Then everything depends on the ingenuity, conscientiousness and desire of young people to master the profession and the desire to prove themselves. I am pleased to know that the heads of foreign trade and logistics departments of many enterprises in Togliatti, being young specialists, worked under me and eventually grew into real professionals in their field.
– Is that why you became a licensed coach at the REC and pass your knowledge on to exporters?
– To conduct systematic training of personnel is not only the task of a single enterprise. In order to develop the export potential of our country and make it less dependent on raw materials, the state conducts important work and trains entrepreneurs in the basics of export activities. This is done by the export School of JSC "Russian Export Center".
– How did you gain experience in logistics and foreign trade transactions?
– After studying at the Chelyabinsk Polytechnic Institute, I was assigned to the Volga automobile plant. I was lucky: the work that consisted of servicing the most modern equipment produced in Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Japan became an excellent practical addition to the received theory.
In the following years, my professional activity continued near the customs office. The companies that I worked as a head of consistently became a declarant, customs broker, and owner of SVH. At the same time, at the all-Russian Academy of foreign trade, I received a second higher education in the specialty "World Economy", finally being requalified from an engineer to a specialist in the organization and implementation of foreign trade transactions. Our partners and I created something that was not available in the market of customs services. “Come up with something that doesn't exist and get rewarded for it!” – this is the motto we followed.
– How did customs work at that time? How did the customs clearance process go?
I made my first customs declaration in Syzran with a fountain pen because I didn't have a typewriter. He was surrounded by a pile of papers, from which he selected the HS code and other information necessary for the Declaration, and a customs inspector nearby was friendly and helpful. It was December, and several thousand 20-liter iron cans were waiting in two railroad cars to be exported to the United States. To the customs officer's puzzled question: "Who needs them there?” – I explained that fishermen on the American coast prefer to take their fuel supplies to sea in such cans. He did not examine the goods, hung up the seals and stamped the documents. Four months later, in payment for the canisters, the factory received several dozen sets of Japanese video sets (TV with VCR) company SCHARP – the deal was not an export, but a barter.
– In what year did Customs Logistics Agency appear?
– In 2006 I decided to create my own business. At that time, I had management experience in such companies as Avtovaztrans and ROSTEC, but my current employment contract came to an end. I gathered my "thoughts in a bunch", summed up my own professional knowledge and skills, and decided not to make a resume and not to prove my need to a potential employer. I consulted with people close to me. Having felt their support, I again used my favorite motto – this is how the customs logistics Agency appeared.
By this time, I had a clear understanding that logistics is not just a set of services, but the art of resolving conflicts in the chain of implementation of a foreign trade transaction and the ability to save time and resources of someone who trusts you with their material values. The most important thing is a trusting relationship between partners.
– If we talk about partnership and cooperation, why did you join the Alliance?
– Our Agency joined ACEX in 2015, when we already had a long-term partnership with the CARGO-EXPRESS company. The possible presence in the Alliance and the resulting opportunities to expand The Agency's competence in the forwarding services market seemed promising. At this moment, Alexey Gamanov, who had sufficient experience in organizing air transportation, was nearby. He agreed to take on operational work in the segment of air cargo forwarding for our clients and became the main link between our company and CARGO-EXPRESS. We only had to agree on the terms of representation of ACEX interests in the Samara and Ulyanovsk regions, which allowed us to strengthen our position in the forwarding services market.
– What are the benefits to you? What kind of interaction within the Alliance is interesting for you?
– Now we are interested in working with the Business Development and Sales Department. We are thinking about how to use its capabilities to expand the number of our customers for outsourcing import and export transactions.
– Do you think joint meetings of the Alliance members are useful for interaction?
– We always welcome meetings of Alliance members in different cities. We are happy to share our experience and do not miss the opportunity to get a boost of positive emotions at events such as the recently held transport Cup football tournament in Moscow.
– Returning to the topic of sports. In your youth, you completed the 1st sports category in Motorsport, why didn't you go further?
- Cars in my life are present at the genetic level: my grandfather Ivan after a severe concussion received at Stalingrad, survived and reached Vienna as a Sergeant of the airfield maintenance battalion, and after the war for a while worked as a garage chief. Father Valery Ivanovich devoted his entire life to testing cars. First – in the city of Miass, at the plant "UralAZ", later – in Togliatti, where with his direct participation were born and learned to drive Niva and Samara cars. The most effective tests are auto racing. In my father's profession, motor sport was not the least important, and I, as a schoolboy, often accompanied him to competitions, where I was trusted to count the laps on the track, wound by athletes, and time their passage. When my age allowed and I got my rights, I began to participate in competitions myself, and by the age of 25 I had fulfilled the standard of the 1st sports category in Motorsport. After I got married, graduated from the Institute, and our first child was born, there was no free time for this hobby. Returning to the topic occurred much later, when the younger son Kirill became interested in karting and at the age of 16 achieved the title of master of sports.
– Tell us about your hobbies in the free time.
– I spend a lot of time restoring the life history of my grandfather Ivan. For this purpose, he became interested in collecting magazines of the series "Soldiers of the Great Patriotic War" and collected 150 figures, and in the issue dedicated to the airborne paratroopers, he still found the place of formation and the combat path of the brigade, a fighter of which he became in November 1941.
– What is the secret of Andrey Smirnov's success?
- Do not be lazy to move forward; be sure that overcoming the difficulties that arise on the way expands your opportunities and brings you closer to success.