Dumplings or Development? Check your stereotypes about Poland
What comes first to your mind when you think of Southern Poland? Dumplings? Cabbage? Vodka? The Carpathian Mountains? Well, I had TONS of ideas when I started my trip to Katowice – and, to be honest, a growing economy was not on top of my list.
Katowice is located in the heart of the Upper Silesian Region in Southern Poland and, compared to other Polish cities, it won´t be winning a national beauty contest any time soon. “Industrial” seems to be a good word to describe the special atmosphere: The city´s history is closely linked to the manufacture of coal and steel. Today it has become a growing business centre. And this is exactly where FedEx gets involved…
We launched a new flight between our European hub at Paris´s Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport and Katowice in the mid of March 2011. This launch marked the first time that the company has serviced the area with its own aircraft. Since a couple of weeks an ATR42 aircraft has been flying to Katowice four times a week. “We love our new flight! It´s a great improvement to our customer service”, the local Station and Sales teams tell me. “But it´s also a challenge: Due to the small size of the aircraft, we can´t ship heavy freight or oversized goods. And you can probably imagine that it takes strong sales skills to fill a plane with documents and small parcels four times each week.”
If you take a look behind the scenes, the decision to enhance Katowice´s connection to global markets makes a lot of sense: The airport is situated about 30 kilometers from a conurbation of 19 cities with a total population of 2.3 million people. There are almost 430.000 businesses registered in the area and a remarkable percentage of the nation´s GDP is generated here. The airport holds a strong position in terms of cargo volume, with only the capital´s airport of Warsaw providing more cargo volume. In terms of economy, the region around Katowice´s airport belongs to one of the most developed in this part of Central Europe. The FedEx catchment area includes the cities of Wroclaw and Krakow as well as Ostrava in the Czech Republic.
Our commitment to Poland certainly didn´t come out of the blue. We entered the Polish market in 1989 and have been continuously expanding our services since then. The station in Katowice was opened in the summer of 2005, with two team members working in the office and eleven couriers. Until today, the number of couriers has almost doubled and several new colleagues are taking care of customs clearance. You can almost smell an exciting “hands-on” mentality at Katowice station: Being an important part of the FedEx growth and development in Southern Poland, makes the team members cook up creative and very loveable ways to solve challenges. Some desks, for example, that are used to pack and sort documents have been carpentered by one of the couriers in his spare time – a professional carpenter couldn´t have done a better job!
With a great team in place and lots of business opportunities around, I´m convinced we´ll hear a lot more good news from FedEx in Poland in the future. And, by the way, I also tried the dumplings and the cabbage. YUMMY!