Dnipro LLC | US-Ukraine Courier Connection: How One Small Courier Company Became a Freight Forwarder
Dnipro LLC of New Jersey began over 50 years ago sending packages from the US to Ukraine. Now they offer air and ocean freight as well as the small package service.
“We have contracts with numerous air carriers to fulfill our customers’ needs.” – Air Freight Manager, Nazar Shpak, Dnipro
Many shipping companies in the United States were started by someone who moved to the US and began a business mailing packages to their home country. Dnipro LLC has similar origins; it started as a courier of small packages in the 1950s for the Ukrainian diaspora in New Jersey and other states. The company takes its name from the Dnipro River, the main river which flows through Ukraine, from Belarus in the north, into the capital of Kiev, and south to the Black Sea. The Dnipro River connects Ukraine to Eastern Europe, Poland, and the Baltic Sea via canals that have existed for centuries and still provide vital transportation today for commerce, agriculture and tourism. The river is also a major source of hydroelectric power in the country.
Dnipro changed ownership in 1996 when Igor Pluta bought the company and expanded the services offered by first adding air freight. In 2006 they received their IAC license and became certified with IATA in 2009. Dnipro was the largest shipper to Ukraine among all of the IATA agents from 2007 – 2009. They have since diversified their services and destinations, doubling their air freight volume each year since 2010, according to their Sales Manager, Nazar Kolodka. Now they also have an NVOCC license and ship all kinds of freight, including vehicles worldwide via ocean vessels while maintaining their courier connection to Ukraine.
Software for a Growing Company
As the company grew, they recognized the need to implement freight forwarding software to help them manage the containers and vehicles for air and ocean shipments. The Air Freight Manager, Nazar Shpak, was one of the people involved in the evaluation of software programs. They discovered the Magaya Cargo System when a friend recommended it. “When we moved to the new office, we started looking for software to manage the air and ocean freight. A colleague recommended Magaya to us. We tested the free trial and decided to keep it. We’ve also added licenses since then.”
Some of the features that were essential included a method to help them ship vehicles, reporting of monthly sales, and a connection with US Customs to file export documentation.
Dnipro is based in Roselle, NJ, near the seaport at Elizabeth, New Jersey, and the airports in NJ and NY. Their location helps them because Dnipro provides loading of cars into containers at the warehouse and it’s easy to access the seaport from their location. Oversized cargo is also exported from New Jersey or routed to ports that can handle that size and weight of equipment.
The cars they ship include ones bought at auction by wholesalers, personal vehicles, used cars, and antiques. Dnipro ships cars worldwide to countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
In addition to their warehouse 60,000 square-foot warehouse, Dnipro has a yard that can store over 500 vehicles. Other services Dnipro offers include custom crating for shipping motorcycles or antique cars that require special packaging.
Because they export many vehicles, they needed software that would help speed up the process and ensure accurate information. To address this need, they added the Magaya VIN Decoder to their software. This plug-in populates the vehicle details into the Warehouse Receipt automatically, saving time.
“Before using the VIN Decoder, we had to look up all the information about each car such as the weight and dimensions by searching on the manufacturer’s website and then type in the details. Now, the VIN Decoder fills it in just by entering the VIN,” Mr. Shpak said. “The information fills in the documents automatically. It helps us create our ocean documents such as Dock Receipts.”
Working with Air Carriers to Get Volume Rates
After cargo is received and the data saved, Dnipro creates the shipping transaction using the same commodity data. Mr. Shpak searches the carrier rates that are saved in their Magaya system.
“We have contracts with numerous air carriers to fulfill our customers’ needs,” he said. The small package business gets very busy in December and at Easter time as people send packages for these holidays. One of the challenges they have is finding space on flights. Mr. Shpak uses the software to create quotes by adding the air carrier’s rates and contracts into the system. “We have people in Ukraine who enter the rate data into the database so it’s ready when we get into our New Jersey office in the morning. If a carrier changes a rate, we have the latest data in the system. It saves us time.”
“When I use the query tool in the software, I enter the parameters for the origin and destination for our regular customers. The software makes a nice looking document when the customer needs an official-looking document that looks better than an email. I save the quote as a PDF and email it to the customers,” Mr. Shpak said.
“It takes a couple of seconds to find what I’m looking for,” Mr. Kolodka agreed. “We used to sort through a huge folder of rates on paper to look for specific destinations and carriers. Now it’s much more efficient.”
Dnipro can also create their export documents with the same data by using the Magaya AES feature, a connection to US Customs that is built into the Magaya system. It sends data directly from their system to US Customs, saving them from retyping VINs and car information. “This was another important feature that I was looking for when I selected the software,” Mr. Shpak said. “I was filling in the information directly into the AESDirect website, and it was more complicated and time-consuming. Magaya is more user-friendly.”
Dnipro wanted the software to facilitate export filing because the majority of their business is exports to the EU, former Soviet countries, and other countries in Asia and the Middle East. When cargo is destined for Europe, Dnipro ships via air and ocean from New Jersey and often to Germany, one of the countries Dnipro ships to frequently, where the cargo is unloaded and transported by truck to the final destinations. “Germany is one of our top destinations, mainly because of our competitive contract rates and strong network of agents who fulfill the customer’s needs for to door deliveries, and in return, we are able to offer our clients a very cost-effective and efficient logistics solution,” said Mr. Kolodka.
The air freight segment of Dnipro has grown since Mr. Kolodka joined the company as Sales Manager in 2010. They have added China and Poland to their other destinations, which has helped add to their volume. “Larger volumes give us more leverage to negotiate for healthier rates with the airlines,” he said.
Winning Customers with Rates and Service
To keep their customers informed about their cargo, Dnipro includes photos of the cars in the Warehouse Receipt. The customers log into Magaya LiveTrack, an interactive online service that is built into Dnipro’s website so their customers can see their shipments.
“We’re dedicated to finding the best service possible for our clients,” Mr. Kolodka said. “Some of our customers told us they prefer working with us because they felt they did not get the attention at some larger freight forwarders. Our clients are loyal due to the fact that we are very dedicated. Besides offering a wide array of logistics services and expert advice, we focus on their needs and integrate our software and supply chain management skills to improve efficiency. Our competitive pricing strategy does not impact or demean our level of service and transit time.”
Dnipro has grown from serving the Ukrainian community in the US, and today they offer more services and use the software to help them ship efficiently and keep their customers updated.
About Dnipro LLC
Industry: Fully Licensed Logistics Company
Solutions: Magaya Cargo System, AES, VIN Decoder
Dnipro LLC is a courier and a freight forwarder. They ship small packages from the US to Ukraine and Europe, and they also store and ship antiques, electronics, and pack cars inside containers at their Roselle, New Jersey, warehouse and exporting them worldwide. The business started as a courier service, and it has expanded to offer air, ocean and ground transportation and warehousing services.