If ever there was a corporate motto penned for Speedwolfe it has to be Carpe Diem, described as making the most of the present time and giving little thought to the future. Speedwolfe is a London-based GSA run by Simon Wolfe and Richard Hartmann, with a combined 64 years’ experience in the air cargo industry.
Meeting the two in their air-conditioned, modern office near London Heathrow on one of the hottest days of the year, there is clear evidence that Wolfe and Hartmann are not discouraged by any siren voices that would say, perhaps, that July, 2020 was not the best year to launch an airfreight operation. Now almost a year later, both share a quiet satisfaction that the gamble has paid off. So much so that they are looking to make a new hire within the month.
Both men work very well together, perhaps as a result of a joint support of Chelsea FC. Or it might be the decades each has enjoyed in airfreight action both in the UK and abroad.
Hartmann had been intended for a career in a professional kitchen until dissatisfaction with catering college led him to an internship with an African freight operator, the start of a life-time career to date in airfreight. Wolfe is at least the second generation of freight as he comes from a family of freight people. He hopes that his children will follow in his footsteps one day.
The passion of the two men for the company, which is a member of the Federation Of Airline GSAs (FAGSA), is clear and Wolfe sums it up as innovation and passion and never saying “no” to business opportunities. This has driven them to have an incredible ride in the first year of operations. During this time, the company established flights from Bournemouth to JFK as they became the first GSA for A340-600 ad-hoc charters for Bournemouth, UK-based European Aviation.
The men also follow an idea that the development of Speedwolfe is about a direction of travel that is “niche by innovation.” This is why, for instance, they are now working with Uzbekistan Airlines B-767F and Sri Lankan virtual airline FITS Aviation. It operates scheduled passenger service within Sri Lanka, as well as international narrow-bodied cargo flights to several cities in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa and also operates charter flights to India as well. They also have weekly consolidation services to TLV in line with their Dutch GSA partners, with the champagne about to be smashed on the hull of a new carrier, launching down the slips, very soon.
At a time when many airlines are in survival mode, the two men are still keen to search out new business from prospective carriers. The days when a carrier would simply issue a tender for GSA services are past. Now Speedwolfe and other GSAs must offer airlines reasons to make appointments in markets. This is why Wolfe and Hartmann have embraced the concept of offering Total Cargo Management (TCM) services. In a world of preighters, airlines are still there to be found it is just now down to the GSA to do the hunting. New airlines are being launched at present despite the pandemic conditions and these are on Speedwolfe’s radar.
A recent new business trawl by the two men saw some 70 carriers canvassed, with positive results as the seeds fell, not on stony ground but on soil too.
When a company is in start-mode, it is all too easy not to turn down work, or to over-promise on what can be delivered. From the start, the men have made it a matter to never over-promise clients what they can deliver.
Both men like the travel aspect of the aviation industry, Wolfe’s brother was a commercial pilot, formerly with Bmi, latterly with Air Tanker, but Wolfe prefers more grounded machines, being a petrol head himself, with Hartmann’s interest is in discovering different business cultures around the globe and what makes the airfreight industry tick in all four corners of the world.
Wolfe’s formative years were running an international wholesale and consolidation business for British Midland Cargo, named ICM, developing an overseas agency network; he also ran Varig and Sri Lankan Cargo at LHR. The legacy of this is a 1.5m model of a Varig DC-10 from the 1970s that adorns their London office. More recently he was working in Los Angeles with Cii/American West Agencies, wholesale division, securing the GEFCO US Agency programme. For five years he was commercial director with Airspace Aviation, converting the Silkways account and growing the DELTA Cargo account, under the VS/DL joint venture Alliance.
Harmann’s portfolio spans 12 years with Panalpina, including working in South Africa, where he procured the Atlas Air freighter deal for Panalpina, South Africa, on an ACMI basis. More recently, 11 years with American Airlines, where he was responsible for the carriers GSA networks in their EMEA regions.