Interview: Transport Manager Stefan Mureșan on the rise of Atlas and the modernization of the logistics industry

- Author: Elena Constantinescu


Ștefan Mureșan is the transport manager at Atlas Express & Logistic. In his almost 9 years with the company, his work has been instrumental in growing Atlas from 30-40 vehicles to a fleet of over 250. The company has evolved into a remarkable Romanian success story, expanding internationally with subsidiaries in Germany, Spain and Portugal and continuously nurturing ambitious growth plans. Atlas’ commitment to understanding and meeting the needs of its customers and partners efficiently and quickly is evident. It is a company that never sleeps, providing answers even at 2am, at critical moments for its customers. The recent private exchange partnership with is designed to support Atlas’ business growth and make work easier for the people on the team. In what follows, we explore what differentiates Atlas as a leader on both the local and international market, and discover Stefan’s vision for emerging and future trends in the logistics industry.

Q: In a nutshell, what does Atlas mean to you?

A: I’ve been with Atlas for almost 9 years. We’ve grown together. When I joined, the business was much smaller. We had our own fleet of 30-40 vehicles. Now we have grown to a fleet of 250. Almost everything I know, I’ve learned here. 

Right now I’m in charge of a lot of operational projects, including the implementation of the private exchange and the company’s trucking department. We specialize in express transport, (up to) 3.5-ton vans.

Q: Tell us about the Atlas team.

A: We have about 350 employees, of which 250 are drivers and the remaining 100 are administrative staff. Dispatch, accounting, technical department. On dispatch, at any given time, we have a minimum of 15 people coordinating the cars. We work 8-hour shifts from 7.00 to 15.00, from 15.00 to 23.00 and night shifts. In total, we have 40 people in dispatch. We have a fairly large accounting department of about 15 people. A lot of invoicing. And we have the technical department, which consists of six people, each doing their own thing – insurance, claims, service. We also have our own service here, where we repair our cars. The parts that we can do ourselves. What we don’t, we outsource. We have a pretty solid team, we don’t have staff turnover on the administrative side. On the driver side, there is some turnover.

Q: What industry-wide events do you feel influenced your work?

A: We have felt the pandemic very strongly. We also had a fleet reduction at the time. Before the pandemic, our fleet was 280 vehicles and we are only now starting to increase again to 250 and get back to pre-pandemic levels. At the same time, the crisis in the automotive industry is affecting us. The semiconductor crisis. 

We operate mainly in the automotive industry. We’ve had problems including fleet renewal. We ordered 40 cars last year and they only arrived in September. This year, it seems to be moving a little better. For 2024, we have 80 units ordered. We have already had, I think, 30 delivered. At the same time, commercial vehicle prices have gone up. We are now paying around eight to nine thousand euros more for the same unit than two years ago.

Q: That’s a significant increase. Does it show in the business? Do you need to manage these costs more carefully? 

A: Obviously. Leasing costs have increased a lot recently. We try not to keep an ageing fleet. Every 4 years, we renew it.

Q: What do you think are the factors that help a business to differentiate itself at the moment in road transport, but also in freight forwarding?

A: First of all, the quality of service and also the prices. We have to keep a very, very fine balance between quality and price. We offer very good quality services, but it doesn’t help if the price is not competitive. In general, customers tend to look for the lowest price. We try to offer both the lowest price and the best quality of service to our customers. We work for quite big companies in the automotive field. Continental is our customer, Bosch is our customer. Goodyear is our customer. Renault. The Stellantis Group, as the former PSA is now called. The PSA FCA alliance. And we try to keep quality at the highest standards. That’s why we have a big dispatch department: so that we can maintain a permanent connection with the customer. If a customer needs to contact us at two o’clock in the morning, they can get an answer from us, because we’re always there.

Q: Is there more pressure on margins now than there was before and from these cost increases of all kinds?

A: We’ve tried to keep our prices at about the same level for our customers, although our costs have gone up quite a bit. The explosion in diesel prices, the explosion in tolls, that affects us as well. But we’ve tried to keep prices down. We find that more and more, we can’t anymore, the costs are almost reaching the level of the price offered to the customer. And so we try to adjust, but without too big a jump. 

Q: We’re changing the register a bit and moving into the area of IT projects. What are the main needs that an IT project for Atlas should address or solve?

A: First and foremost, it should make our job easier. At the moment, we are already doing the things that we will soon run through the private exchange. We sell loads to other contractors, but we do that through a manual process. We have an RFQ (request for quotation), we send it to 200-300 subcontractors. We get quotes, we pass that to the customer.’s private exchange will automate the process and give us the chance to do more in just a fraction of the time.


Q: What would be the main advantages you would like to achieve through digitalization, if we were to go into more detail?

A: The best aspect would be the unification, bringing all operations in one place. I matured professionally with Atlas. We started from pen and paper and have already gone through the implementation of an ERP system. We have an integrated management system that we’ve been working on for six years now. And we’ve seen how beneficial an integrated system is for a company at our level.

Q: What about the challenges in an IT implementation? What are the areas you expect to present challenges?

A: In general, many problems come from the end user. From the software user. If people are not well trained, such difficulties can arise. 

I have an example. At one point, our ERP crashed and we didn’t know why. I called and was told: you have a box checked for two different addresses of the same partner. By mistake, someone had put an extra tick there and the system crashed because it did not know how to handle that information. 

Q: What about communicating with partners or customers? What are the main requirements in the area of digital communication? 

A: Customers want updates, real-time information, delivered more and more often. That’s why we also implemented an ERP system that sends automatic updates to customers. The ERP system is integrated with the real-time monitoring, it updates the position of the vehicle in the monitoring and sends an update back to the customer. The format is: for this specific shipment, loaded from, unloading at, the van is at this point. It has this many kilometres left. An estimated delivery time would be this many hours. Our system automatically sends these updates, every two hours, for all cars. No two trips are the same. There can be all sorts of problems in traffic, problems with loading, unloading and then we have to keep in constant contact with the customer. 

Q: Is there a particular set of situations that occurs most often and gives you the biggest headaches or can you say that nothing surprises you anymore?

A: Nothing surprises me anymore. Anything can happen, anything is possible. And always when a problem arises, we try to find out as much information as possible, to see why the problem arose, what happened, what was the chain of events that led to the problem, because somewhere something was not done right, if a problem arose. 

Q: On the project: why did you opt for a private exchange project and what made you choose us?

A: First of all, we have always been looking to grow the business. And this project seemed like a great way to do that. We are trying to grow the business constantly. And so we add here this part of selling loads that we probably couldn’t cover with our own fleet. We thought ‘let’s try to sell them to subcontractors’. And the private exchange project seemed to me to be a much more efficient solution than the direct selling process that we are using at the moment.

Q: How do you plan to approach the employee training part of the project, so that they understand and use the system to its full potential?

A: At the moment we are starting with two operators who will become proficient in using the system and then train the others as needed. provides training to the two operators who will start implementing the exchange, so that they learn all the steps. In the future I hope to expand the project, to have more operators in the private exchange. Maybe we can also train the Atlas field offices. We, besides our parent company here in Romania, have three other subsidiaries. Three companies in Germany, Spain and Portugal.

Q: How did Atlas grow internationally?

A: It was a goal we set for ourselves, but also a necessity. We found that it’s much easier to open an office to keep in touch with customers, with people there, than to try to coordinate everything from here. Separate offices in Germany, Spain and Portugal. The ambitions for growth have always been there and growth has been quite accelerated. In addition to the three firms, we have three other Atlas Real Estate outlets in Austria, Belgium and Germany. 

We’ve grown our operations to an European level. We’ll probably start implementing the private exchange here in Romania. We will continue with the offices, with the Atlas offices in Austria, Belgium and Germany and then, if the demand is there, we will expand the private exchange to include the other companies of the group.

Q: What would you say are the most important automations for Atlas and its clients at the moment? 

A: We are trying to provide customers with the highest standards of service, including by automating certain processes. Take Goodyear’s SAP system, for example, where we are contractually obliged to perform certain routes. They no longer ask us. They send us the order directly. We have this order to execute. 

We may not have our own vehicle in that particular location at that particular time. But the automation from Goodyear’s SAP goes into our ERP and from our ERP it goes directly into’s private exchange. Then we get options and give a solution to the customer much faster than if we did everything manually.

Q: How have Atlas customer expectations evolved? How do you expect to work with them in the future and what role does digitalization play in this process?

A: Customer expectations are constantly increasing. But we have a principle: ‘if it’s cheap it doesn’t last, and free doesn’t exist’. We have this saying on our wall in the lobby (laughs).

Or in other words: ‘Cheap, fast and great. Pick two.’

Technology will help us address the speed of doing things. We’re going to do things faster and faster. 

Q: How important is it that all communication with carriers can be done in one place? Is that feasible?

A: It could be feasible. We’ll see from their feedback. How many will respond, or if we have to call them: ‘give me an update though. Where is this vehicle?’ We are also integrated with Project 44, we can send them invitations to give us the car location. Further, we give the monitoring to our customers.

Q: What would you say are the most important aspects in the Atlas business from a carrier partner relationship perspective? 

A: The most important thing in the relationship with our subcontractors, with our hauliers, is to ensure they get their money on time, which in our case is 99% of the time. Not to say 100%. We pay our subcontractors exactly as they should be paid. We have never had any payment incidents. I think they expect from us what we expect from our customers. A prompt response. If there are problems, to intervene promptly and help them. And payment on time. We have a good reputation in every respect.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: As business volume and sizes go, the sky’s the limit. We slowly but surely want to move towards a 3PL, Third-Party Logistics, to be a company that a customer can outsource all their transport logistics needs to. We have a very large warehouse in Alba-iulia, Romania. Slowly but surely, we are moving towards that 3PL.