The FreightCaviar Podcast: Aleks Bates on Dispatching US Trucks from Serbia

Join us this week as Alex Bates, a Canadian dispatcher in Serbia, shares his journey, insights on Europe's dispatching hotspot, and valuable team management tips.

The FreightCaviar Podcast: Aleks Bates on Dispatching US Trucks from Serbia

In this week’s episode, we sit down with Aleks Bates, Vice President of Carrier Sales at Hammer Logistics, Host of PODcast, and a Canadian dispatcher based in Serbia. Aleks shares his journey into the industry, discusses why Serbia has become Europe's dispatching hotspot, and explains why being a dispatcher there is such a coveted position. He also dives into the differences in work ethics between Serbia and the US and shares some great advice on managing a team.

Journey to Serbia

We started out talking about how Aleks ended up living in Serbia. Born in Canada to a Serbian father and an American mother, Aleks decided to come back to his father's homeland with his grandparents right in the middle of the pandemic. “They're like, ‘Come for like a little vacation’. I was like, ‘Yeah, no problem.’ On my second day of being here I called back home and quit my job. I was on the beach eating a Serbian hamburger– the weather was beautiful. I was like, ‘I think I could get used to this.’ The cost of living here just three, four years ago was so low, I was able to have my own, huge apartment. I just felt right at home and the cost of living was so much cheaper.”

Transition to Dispatching

In the beginning, Aleks worked as a plumber. He quickly realized that without knowing Serbian, it was impossible to communicate with his colleagues. But, being fluent in English, he was quickly able to find a job as a dispatcher, thanks to an acquaintance, and later ended up working as a manager. During his time there, he learned one lesson: “Just because you're good at doing the job doesn't mean you're good at managing people. I also learned that being a manager is tough, especially if you're booking loads and you're also doing the day-to-day activities, and then you're managing people.”

Differences in Work Ethic

We also spoke about the differences in work ethic in the US vs. Serbia: “I think Serbian mentality is like, ‘Let's work the least while being able to pay our bills and chill as much as we can.’ Which was honestly good for me because in North America we just grind, there’s just a grind mindset, just work non-stop.”

Dispatching in Serbia

Aleks also talks about the status of dispatching in Serbia and why it’s such a coveted job. He explained how almost everyone knows someone who works in the industry. “You can get into a taxi and you'll have a 55-year-old taxi driver that doesn't speak any English and he'll ask you what you do for work. If you just tell him ‘dispatch’, he'll say, ‘Oh, my friend's brother works in dispatch’. You could talk to a random stranger and they know what dispatch is, they know what trucking is. It's a coveted job that gives you some status.”

Serbia: A Dispatching Hotspot

He also explained why Serbia is one of Europe’s dispatching hotspots and why it’s the place to be if you work in the industry– everyone speaks great English and knows how to use a computer. The demographic is very young, with most people in the industry being under the age of 30. “A huge majority is between the ages of 20 and 28. Then you got the management side where everybody is aged 28 to 35. You don't see a lot of people over the age of 40 working in logistics out here.”

Advice on Management

Aleks also shared a golden nugget of advice he learned while being a manager: “You just have to find the right manager that's going to make sure that the quality doesn't suffer. As soon as you find the right management for your office, you're going to have a rockstar team. So it really comes down to that because if you hire the wrong manager, your office might not hold up to the quality.”

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