David Panjwani is passionate about how logistics should be handled for high-and-heavy brands like John Deere.

Unlike shipping consumer goods or raw materials, Panjwani refuses to see this sector as a commodity. Not only is the equipment and material specialised, but so too must be the providers.

That’s one reason he has been successful at developing centralised logistics organisations in the US and Europe (see p46). He now faces the same task in fast-growing but logistically-constrained Asia Pacific.

Panjwani is a 20-year logistics veteran, including eight years at Schneider National in the US before joining John Deere. He spent the past four years in Europe. His confidence in his objectives is matched only by his humility, as he admits that building partnerships is vital to his role. Those traits are perhaps reinforced by his strong faith and his sense of leadership.

Christopher Ludwig: What will be the main challenge in your new role?

David Panjwani: Like many companies we are experiencing a significant amount of growth so the challenge will be to provide the right level and type of service to all of our factories and marketing branches region-wide.

CL:What will be top of your agenda during your first year on the job?

DP: To define and build the proper centralised logistics organisation to accommodate the significant demand for competent logistics support with a specific focus on China and India.

CL:What do you like most about the high-and-heavy logistics field?

DP: I really appreciate the variety and non-commodity feel to working with high and heavy. We are faced with unique challenges relative to special permits and unique routings that also come with working with ro-ro transportation.

CL:What is most challenging about it?

DP: One of the most challenging aspects is that the capacity required is often scarce and so it is a great opportunity for us to build the proper relationships that ensure John Deere does not face any issues in obtaining the service that is required.

CL: As you have also worked on the 3PL side, do you think differently about outsourcing logistics services?

DP: I certainly have an appreciation for the demands that our 3PL and service providers experience and at the same time I understand their cost structures fairly well. I believe it does enable me to understand some things that others may not. It has also allowed me [to understand] some of the true benefits and drawbacks of outsourcing.

CL: You’ve been based on different assignments in North America and Europe. Which did you enjoy most?

DP: I think they both had very good aspects but I have really appreciated the experience in Europe because it allowed me to help start a logistics organisation within our company and really be able to build something for the future.

CL:What are you looking forward to most about your new location?

DP: I am looking forward to another challenge to support John Deere’s growth in an incredibly challenging region of the world. On a personal level, I am very much looking forward to living and travelling within the Asian culture and also the opportunity to miss harsh winters.

CL: Do you own any John Deere equipment yourself? I don’t imagine much room for it in Singapore!

DP: If and when we return to the United States, I have dreams of owning some property where I could use a John Deere riding lawn tractor.

CL: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

DP: I very much enjoy spending time with my family and being active in our church, playing sports and travelling.

CL: If you weren’t working in logistics or the high-and-heavy sector, where would you see yourself?

DP: I would enjoy being a teacher or professor as well as a coach.

CL: Are there any books that you would recommend?

DP: The Bible is always my number one choice and a book I read every day. On the business front, I would recommend: The Innovator’s Dilemma, [Clayton M. Christensen] The Magic of Dialogue [Daniel Yankelovich] and The Lexus and the Olive Tree – Understanding Globalisation [Thomas Friedman].

CL:What stands out most for you for 2011 in business?

DP: The company continues to grow at a strong rate and I have really enjoyed focusing on supporting logistics solutions in places like India, China, Russia and Brazil.

CL: What about outside of business?

DP: It has been another great year for my family and I–living abroad and experiencing many unique cultures spanning from Turkey to Alaska.