Out with the Old: The Rise of Container Sales

The Container Sales team was set up just two years ago and is already generating a substantial revenue. Read more on what makes the team tick and what the next step in the journey will be.

Ever wondered where a Maersk Line container retires to? Maybe, it will help form the structure of a home in South Africa for a family hereto restricted to Shanty Towns. Perhaps, it will be on a railway line in Brazil. There are a lot of people who could use a twenty-foot equivalent unit designed to carry 30 tons of cargo. Never mind the two tons of steel they contain.

Rewind to 2014. Maersk Line decided that an increased profit in containers sales might be possible. So they stopped outsourcing the process to third party agents. Instead creating the Container Sales team.

As Head of Container Sales, Rune Sorensen explains their role was to “outfleet the containers that Maersk will not or cannot use any more. When a container is damaged and it doesn’t make sense for us to fix it, we sell the asset so we don’t have to pay storage for it. In other cases, it’s actually better to sell the box than move it a long distance, empty. When it makes sense for Maersk Line, we sell.”

Navigating rough waters

Fast forward to second quarter 2016. A 12- to 13-man team had sold 10 containers per hour, 24 hours a day across an entire quarter. This was a 100% increase on the results from second quarter 2015. One employee alone, Raphael Diegues, had sold more in that quarter than the third party agents had managed in their best year.

The period between had not been plain sailing. “It’s a tough business. In the first year, we fought really hard without winning,” says Rune.

Raphael notes, “It was tough at first. I was joining the new department, and it was hard to gain a share in the market.”

Rune stresses that above all else, the attitude of the team has driven this change. “ You get involved in everything. Sometimes you feel you’ve had enough. But you look around and see that you are part of a team with fantastic colleagues and you get back into it.”

Making the team tick

When you speak to the Container Sales team, the first thing that strikes you is the passion they have for their work. The independence and international perspective they enjoy are major factors in this.

Raphael works on his own in Brazil across four countries and enjoys the responsibilities, which come with the freedom. “It’s your work. Your result depends on you. We have the freedom to try anything we think will improve the value to our customers.”

Rune has been at Maersk Line for 17 years. He reflects on the diversity in customers being an inspiration in his new role. “Last year on my birthday I was in Nigeria, visiting the sales team. We had to go to Benin, but you can’t drive across the border. Who walks from Nigeria to Benin on their birthday? People go bungee jumping or paragliding. But this was an experience you won’t find in a tourist magazine.”

Only the beginning of the journey

Despite the recent results, Rune refuses to talk of success. “We’ve had two great quarters, when we get to seven or eight in a row, then we can say we’ve been successful.”

Rune is clear on where the next step will be “Our ambition is to take the whole business online. Within the next 12 months, we hope to be there.”

Their online platform is already live in 21 countries. For Raphael, the digitisation process has been hugely beneficial. “I’m working alone; I have to do the commercial part, the operations part, the financial part. Now the system does the admin work, which frees up a lot of my time.”

The team is optimistic about the future. Rune points out that “our market is actually growing, that’s not a market I see dropping any time soon. There’s an ever increasing recycling mentality. There’s no knowing then where our current boxes might one day find themselves.”

Visit the Maersk Line used container sales website to learn more about buying  used containers.