WOF & BUD Cargo Forum 2023
11. October 2023

INTERVIEW with Paul Szeman, CEO of the HGL Group

Paul Szeman was born in Luton, and graduated Bedfordshire University with a degree in Mechanical engineering. Now, with a military logistics jump start, he has more than 29 years of experience in the logistics and transportation industry, working with various international and regional companies. He developed and managed industry-leading logistical businesses in the CEE region, with a focus on new business development, security, warehouse, and logistics management. Paul holds the FCILT credential from the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK), and is fluent in Hungarian and English.

How has your company been navigating the current post-COVID situation, considering the fluctuations in inflation, price volatility, and market uncertainties? What strategies have you implemented to safeguard your operations and ensure stability during these challenging times?

HGL Group has operated a policy of free home office for more than 6 years, so well before the mandatory home office imposed because of COVID-19 – our company and staff made a seamless transition with no delay, disruption or wasted resources or investment. As regards the volatility of rates and market uncertainties, our team just buckled down and used the extra time we all had on our hands, (as a result of not having to commute, and not having so much business to transact ) to scour the market for the best rates, routes, sailings and delivery windows that were available. We maintained a natural urgency in all of our efforts as it was clear to all that there was a global emergency situation that threatened not only our health but our jobs too!  We bent down to pick up every penny of opportunity that we generated or came across. Our team’s effort paid dividends, as we closed 2020 with a 35% top-line growth over 2019 and 5% ahead of budget.


In the context of digitalization, what specific solutions and advancements are you offering your clients to enhance their logistics experience?

HGL have been paperless for 5 years. This starts with our CRM and carries through to accounting and transport management systems. Our archiving is also digitised, and we take full advantage of electronic AWB and CMR paperwork wherever possible. All of our warehouse management systems operate with barcode scanning and real time mobile app-based delivery information for fulfilment services. (We also have digital retro arcade machines in all offices to relieve stress and improve our top scores on Donkey Kong. The only thing HGL has not managed to digitise are the foosball tables next to the arcade machines in our offices – if it’s not broken, don’t fix it 😊


Can you share an example of a game-changing application of AI your company adopted recently? 

NO, while SIRI doesn’t understand a Hungarian accent, AI will not be on our radar.


With the rise of large shipping lines offering full-service solutions directly to clients, how does your company view and respond to the competition? What unique value propositions do you offer to differentiate yourselves and maintain a strong position in the market?

HGL’s ocean freight services are tailored to cater for companies that have very complex flows, or schedules, coupled together with goods of an urgent, sensitive, high value or dangerous nature, hence are of a full-service nature – as a result shipping lines own offerings have never been a significant competition.


The green deal and sustainability are becoming increasingly important in the logistics sector. While striving for environmentally friendly practices is essential, initially, higher costs are associated. What measures are both affordable and effective in achieving sustainable logistics operations for your company in the EU compared to other regions in which you are operating?

HGL has pooled procurement with many road transport partners and has established a diversified division specialising in purchasing and distribution of diesel fuel for the road transport and manufacturing industries. In line with our commitment to contribute to global sustainability we have introduced the supply of Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO) diesel substitute to our partners and many other industries in Hungary.


For nearly three decades, HGL Group Hungary has been a beacon of excellence in the logistics and supply chain industry. As a family-owned and operated company, HGL Group Hungary combines tradition with innovation to provide unparalleled services to its diverse clientele.
Specializing in sensitive cargoes, high-security transport, and complex customs procedures, HGL Group Hungary is the go-to partner for
businesses with unique logistical needs. The company’s expertise extends to time-critical transport, offering NFO and OBC services that ensure your shipments reach their destination precisely when needed.
In addition to these core competencies, HGL Group Hungary excels in complex warehousing and fulfillment services, providing comprehensive solutions for storage and distribution. Their specialization in e-commerce customs clearances (H7) further showcases their adaptability, catering to a wide array of customers and product groups.  
With a rich history and a commitment to evolving with the times, HGL Group Hungary is a trusted and reliable partner, standing ready to meet the ever-changing demands of the global supply chain landscape.