BECOMING a successful businessman at an early age is certainly everybody’s dream. But there are those who become businessmen unintentionally and achieve success. One such example is Ario Pratamo, director of PT Unique Kargonize, a General Service Agent (GSA) responsible in preparing available cargo space in aircrafts while acting as an official representative of airlines.
Ario started his own company at age 23. “At first, I didn’t have any desire or dream of becoming a businessman. However, my father was preparing me to continue managing his company. And after giving it a try I found that I liked it, choosing to open my own business instead,” said Ario, who is a graduate of Interactive Multimedia from Edith Cowan University, Australia.
The beginning of Unique Kargonize began when Ario was still working at Speedmark Indonesia, his father’s freight forwarding company. He did not hold a managerial position from the start. His father purposely made him an operator and later moved him to a managerial position so that Ario could understand the work flow.
Not too long afterwards he fell in love with the business and thought of starting his own. His wish came true when the Saudi Arabian airline Etihad set up its route to Indonesia. “Etihad opened a tender to sell its cargo space to local companies; I made a bid and won the tender. We got Etihad for all areas throughout Indonesia and about 50 other countries with the frequency of four flights per week using an Airbus 330. The total capacity reaches 50 tons per week,” he explained.
After his success in developing Unique Kargonize, he was named Business Week Asia Under 25 Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006. Yet, the achievement did not mean that he did not experience a young businessman’s “trying moments”.
Clients often underestimated him at first. Ario also had moments when he lacked confidence, like when he had to pay his manager a higher salary than his own to help him find clients. There was a time when there was no consignment for the cargo space available, but his strong desire to learn and strive allows him to pass through those difficult moments.
His consistent perseverance and desire to keep learning enhanced his skills. After working at his father’s company, he studied management at the Indonesian Institute of Management Development (IPMI) and joined with young businessmen’s organization HIPMI and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (Kadin) to learn more about business from other young businessmen. “I am lucky because I am the second generation of my family in this business and because my father is my mentor. But still, I also need to learn from others’ experience, that’s why I am involved in HIPMI and Kadin,” said Ario, currently entrusted with the position of HIPMI’s head of Publication and Media Division.
Ario’s business continued to grow. In 2007, he established another company, PT Swift Kargonize, soon appointed GSA for Qantas Freight, Jetstar Airways (Bali), Air Mauritius, Fin Air, Lion Air (JED Destination). Through his two companies, Ario now holds almost all the destinations in the world.
One could only wonder Ario’s winning strategy in a business that heavily depends on peak seasons. “Never chase an airline principal with the same destination, for example Etihad with Qatar. The same destination could mean the same services, which is pointless. The combination among our principals must be matching so as a group of companies we can become a one -stop shop,” he said.
“When the market was down sometimes I experienced zero cargo, so it is better to have loyal customers who have lots of consignments, but during the peak season we should not raise the rate or our price,” he added.
Despite his overwhelming achievements, Ario doesn’t think that he has reached the state of success yet. “For me success means being happy. But it is impossible to be consistently happy. Life changes at every moment and it is up to us to make ourselves feel happy,” he explained.
At first Ario’s business began with one airline and a frequency of four flights a week and 50 Tons of cargo to 57 destinations. Today the two companies are entrusted by six airlines with a capacity of 700-800 tons of cargo per month with hundreds of destinations. Even so, highly calculated expansion is important to help any company to grow. “I am still looking for the most perfect airline for a mix and match combination in my cargo business covering inter-Asia and the United States. Perhaps also to diversify my business by adding a freight forwarding company or an entirely different business, maybe retail or energy,” explained Ario who is also the Vice President for the Transportation & Logistics division at Kadin for East Jakarta.
To develop his business further Ario believes he needs people with passion and bright ideas. Although Ario realizes that he comes from a well-to-do family he emphasizes that an idea is the key point. According to Ario, entrepreneurship is not just a dream. It is, in fact, the soul of business that will take form by itself. “An idea is important and it is more expensive than capital. Don’t be scared if you don’t have the capital to fund your business, but be scared if you don’t have any ideas. Like I always say, people will invest in you if you have an idea that is unique and good,” he concluded. (Tedy Matondang)
The Jakarta Post, July 23, 2011