Budiyanto Darmastono: From Employee to Entrepreneur

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LIFE is like a wheel that turns round and round until one’s destination is reached. It is most important not to stop and to feel satisfied when one attains success, because around you there are still many people who need your help. That is why you have to be unselfish. Budiyanto Darmastono believes in this philosophy and he credits his success as an entrepreneur to this philosophy.

Budi, as he is called, is in the courier and cargo business. His company, PT Nusantara Card Semesta (NCS), is considered one of the largest players in the city courier business. His company has a good reputation with major banks, because banks like BCA, HSBC, ABN Amro, Standard Chartered, Bank Mandiri, Bank Niaga, Bank Permata, GE Finance, Bank Bukopin, Bank Bumiputra and Bank Danamon frequently use his services.

Apart from banks, major insurance companies are also his clients, such as Manulife, Sequislife, Prudential, Axa Mandiri and AIG Lippo. Other clients include Sharp Indonesia, Macindo, Garuda Indonesia, Coca-Cola, Makro, Abbot, Olympus and Datascrip. In total, his clients number about 300 large companies.

Before becoming a successful businessman, he worked for Diners Club for 15 years. After such a long time he felt that his career was going nowhere, so Budi, who was born in Karanganyar, Central Java, in 1961, established his own courier company. “If I had stayed on as an employee, there would not have been any major changes in my life and I would have had to depend on my salary there as my only income,” he said smiling.

He once tried to open a mini market and all the time he dreamed about becoming a wealthy man and living a comfortable life. Finally at the end of 1996, he decided to leave his job at Diners Club and established NCS, hoping it would grow into a big company. At first his wife, Reni Sitawati Siregar, did not agree with his decision. She was afraid of him losing a regular income, while a new venture was not a certainty. However, Budi persisted.

To avoid any tension with his wife, he brought her around to his way of thinking. He told her that once he could fully focus on the business it would have a huge potential. Initially, he collected as much data as possible and made a database containing details about all his potential clients so that the company’s operations would be efficient and effective.

He had learned from his experience at Diners Club that information technology helped a lot. When he established his company, especially during the early years, very few other courier companies used IT in their operations as the work was mostly manual then. It was hard to answer clients’ questions about the whereabouts of their goods as they had to look through manually recorded data. Only giant-sized companies used IT for their business, such as DHL and TNT.

When he established NCS, his starting capital was just Rp 50 million and he had only eight employees at a rented 200-square-meter house on Jl. Tali, West Jakarta. Budi said it took him about a month to get the business permits and get the office organized. But that was then. Today, NCS has its own five-story building in Slipi, West Jakarta. From the initial eight employees, the company currently has about 2,600 employees and 27 branches in major cities, such as Greater Jakarta (including Bogor, Bekasi, Tangerang, Depok) Bandung, Padang, Medan, Palembang, Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Manado, Gorontalo, Banda Aceh, Surabaya and many more.

NCS has spread its wings even farther by opening a branch in Singapore.”NCS is no longer a domestic courier company, but much more as it handles international air and sea cargo, moving, trucking, warehousing, logistics and distribution,” Budi explained.

His choice of courier and cargo business was related to his previous job in the finance department of Diner’s Club where he had firsthand knowledge of the business. At that time, Diners Club used to send a very large amount of cards and letters to its customers. After observing how few courier companies there were in the country, Budi, who graduated from the School of Accountancy at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, got the idea of opening a courier company. “The number of such companies at that time was still small and they were not that professional in their business. So I said to myself that here was an opportunity to open up a courier company,” he said. Feeling confident, he started the business and determinedly competed with established players.

In the beginning, he wanted to focus on the card center business, so it is not surprising that his very first clients were banks. His wife was the operations manager of the company in the early years of the company, while he still initially worked for Diners Club.

However, he was directly involved in the marketing side. He did all the company’s presentations when introducing its services to potential clients. He did all this in his spare time, but he did his best so that his employers could not find fault with his performance and realize that he was working elsewhere.

However, today the situation is different. He does not have to hide his business from anyone and can develop his business further. The father of one admits that it has not been an easy job developing the company into a big entity. Budi said there were a number of strategic keys to the success of NCS. First, one has to be optimistic and determined. “As an entrepreneur, I have to be confident of what I am doing and of my capability. Obstacles are only natural in any venture,” said Budi, who loves reading.

Second, establish commitments to build trust on the part of customers and clients. Third, use the right technology. To satisfy his clients, Budi keeps developing his infrastructure by upgrading the company’s IT system. He has spent more than Rp 2 billion on the company’s hardware, software and consultant’s fees.

With the latest IT system, NCS can always report or track the whereabouts of customers’ goods and consignments at any time. As a leader, he never treats his employees as subordinates, but more like partners. He realizes that his success is inseparable from the role and hard work of his employees. This is why they like working for him and many stay for years.

Before turning into an entrepreneur, he dreamed that one day when he became successful he would stand by their side and treat them like friends. “That was my dream then. Now, every year I go on the haj pilgrimage or umroh and in front of the ka’bah I always pray that I can send these friends of mine on the haj pilgrimage or umroh. And my prayers have been granted. Before sending them to Mecca, I took my family, including my wife’s family, on the haj pilgrimage,” he concluded. (Faisal Chaniago)

The Jakarta Post, March 25, 2009