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On the Road

Stefan Pertz, Asian Trucker  

Stefan Pertz, founder of Asian Trucker, launched a Chinese edition of the publication in Hong Kong last October

 

 
In 2009, Stefan Pertz, founder of business consultancy Launchpad, was faced with a dilemma posed by a client. "A lubricant manufacturer came to us and said, 'I want to give my sales for heavy-truck lubricants a boost. How do I do that?'

"The obvious answer was, you put an ad in a truck magazine," he said. "So our client said, 'Okay, find me a trucking magazine where I can advertise.'"

But a search for such a publication in Asia came up empty-handed. "It's a huge industry. But we were amazed to find that, apart from Thailand, there was no trucking magazine in Southeast Asia," said the German entrepreneur.

Six months later, Asian Trucker was launched in Malaysia, a trucking hub in Southeast Asia. Covering the latest in fleet management and operations, the quarterly includes articles on the latest truck models, focusing on technical and engineering features. The publication counts driver and fleet owners and operators, as well as container port operators, as part of its readership.

Last October, Asian Trucker launched a Chinese edition in Hong Kong, where drivers of a thriving trucking industry regularly ply cross-boundary routes to the Chinese mainland. "What's unique to the Hong Kong market is that, unlike places such as Malaysia, many of the drivers are also the owners of the trucks," said Mr Pertz. "That's key because they're also the decision-makers in their business."

Trucking Forum

  Asian Trucker
 

Asian Trucker covers the latest in fleet management and operations and serves as a forum for the region's trucking industry

The publication serves as an industry forum, airing views on issues that concern them, according to Mr Pertz, who is also targeting governments to make use of the magazine. "If you're changing legislation, say for emission laws, it has implications for the entire industry. And if you have no way to express changes clearly to the people concerned, then it may be difficult for government to implement new regulations," he said.

The publication also delves into such universal issues as driver fatigue and drink driving, while featuring articles specific to the market, including pieces on Euro V engines, for the Hong Kong publication, and Euro II engines for Malaysian readers.

The industry response has been "amazing," according to Mr Pertz. "Many have been saying, 'This is exactly what we need.' Some of the major transport and logistics players, including Volvo, Scania, Mercedes Benz and DHL, are regularly profiled and advertise in Asian Trucker.

The second issue of the Chinese edition, which came out this month, has seen circulation double, to 3,000, in Hong Kong. The English edition, which has grown from 48 to 76 pages, has a print run of 6,500 in Malaysia. A Singapore edition will be launched next month. An online version is also available in English, and will eventually be offered in other languages, including Chinese, Indian, Thai and Vietnamese.

Natural Choice

Malaysia’s Sidhu Brothers, bulk hauling company  
Malaysia’s Sidhu Brothers, a bulk hauling company, regularly advertises in Asian Trucker  
Of the Chinese-speaking cities in Asia, Mr Pertz decided that Hong Kong was the natural choice to manage the publication's Chinese edition. "The ease of doing business here is a major factor. It takes you one week to get a publishing license here, for instance. Printers here produce fantastic quality; people speak English. Multinational truck companies have some of their global functions located in Hong Kong," he added.

As the gateway to the mainland, where trucking is big business, Hong Kong offers a substantial readership. Mr Pertz said the company ultimately wants to publish for the mainland market, and Hong Kong is an important step towards that goal. "The China market, with its sheer market size, we can't even begin to handle that at the moment. We want to first build our brand in Hong Kong."

As publisher, Mr Pertz also writes articles and serves as co-editor of the magazine. His editorial partner is a 30-year veteran of the publishing industry.

Where Things Happen

  Mattias Lundholm, Scania Hong Kong
  Mattias Lundholm, Managing Director, Scania Hong Kong, is among the multinational executives who have been profiled in
Asian Trucker
Hong Kong was the entrepreneur's first exposure to Asia. The German native was posted to the city in 1998, to manage the installation of furniture at the then new Hong Kong International Airport. After stints in Australia and Singapore, he returned to Germany for further schooling. "I decided through this overseas experience that out here was where things are happening," On his return, he switched to advertising, before opening his consultancy business.

Despite being based in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong remains a key city for Mr Pertz. "Things happen here. I like that people will make time to see you, but if they are not interested they'll tell you straight away. So the mentality is fantastic. The city's density also means you get things done. Everything works here.

"It is also a very demanding market. People in Hong Kong are extremely brand-savvy. They're happy to spend, but you cannot short-change them. You need to make sure they get their money's worth."

Over the Long Haul

Given the response to date, Mr Pertz foresees building a team of up to 20 people and to be in six to eight countries around the region in three to five years. After splitting off Asian Trucker as a separate entity, he's also seriously considering moving operations to Hong Kong.

"Frankly," he says, "I may eventually switch businesses and focus completely on publications, because this is something different. We're the first mover in this business. People welcome us, which tells us this is what they need."

Related Link
Asian Trucker

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