Ever wanted to find out more about our MD? Then you’ve come to the right place…
How long have you been working at Seaspace and what is your job role?
July 2016 will be my 25th anniversary with Seaspace International. Back in 1991 I joined to develop the company’s air freight business. Until then, as you can guess from the name, it was largely an ocean freight driven business. Since then, as our expertise has grown and the business developed into wider market areas, including aerospace, pick and pack, publishing and retail packaging, so too has my role. I am now, for my sins, Managing Director of the company and all its specialities and facilities.
Describe a typical day in the office at Seaspace HQ.
I know it’s a cliché but there really is no such thing as a typical day. One constant, however, is the pressure of time. Being a global business we are somewhat dictated to by the clock. In the morning business is dominated by communications with the Far east and Asia, as they are winding down their day. Then, in the afternoon, our focus switches westwards where the day is just beginning. Throw into this global mix clients’ production schedules slipping backwards, whilst their delivery deadlines remain, at best, unmoved and you can see how time (and dates) dominate our day.
The great thing is though, as there’s no specific pattern to each day you learn very quickly to be quick on your feet, reacting to client requirements and even the occasional ‘act of God’, such as a typhoon slowing vessels or closing airports. Each day brings its own challenges and joys.
How has the freight forwarding industry changed over recent years?
Like most businesses, freight forwarding (or logistics) has experienced huge changes over the past two to three decades thanks to the development in EDI and technology – the electronic age. Gone are the days of ranks of clerks laboriously writing out Customs declarations and then jumping in a car to deliver them to the local Customs office, there for Customs officers to laboriously check through and assess . Now one person can submit multiple declarations in minutes and transmit them to a Customs office hundreds of miles away (in Salford, Manchester) and within seconds get approval (or not) to import along with the Duty and VAT amount to pay.
The advantage, apart from speed and efficiency, is that these advances have made the business world a smaller and more responsive place, if not sometimes a little impersonal. Forwarders, airlines, Customs offices and handling agents can communicate about and cross reference a single shipment at the touch of a button. Furthermore, the resources now available online give forwarders and their clients transparency and access to a wider range of services, which translates to a more competitive edge.
Seaspace specialises in the publishing and media industry. Why do you think Seaspace is such a popular choice for this type of business?
Like all our specialist business divisions we’ve taken the time and invested the resources in learning about this particular market, applying what we learn and investing in knowledgeable people to focus on this business sector. For over 15 years Seaspace have quietly developed a reputation within the publishing industry for being pro-active and re-active and understanding the particular needs and solutions.
Seaspace’s offering goes well beyond the normal remit of freight forwarding, with options such as re-work, stock holding and fulfilment, print sourcing and other specialist solutions. So, for publishing, we really can provide a one stop logistics shop.
What are the challenges you see with Seaspace going forward?
You might expect me to reply with stock answers about coping with the global economic crisis or the softening of emerging markets in China and Brazil for example. We are, however, well used to riding these particular storms, having a broad client and geographical base and in being inventive in our logistics offerings.
There is though one challenge that is constant and that is, battling to convince businesses that high quality service logistics, in all its facets, is important and getting materials and products physically to market should not be an after-thought nor an inconvenient cost. Service focused companies, such as Seaspace, can add real value to businesses’ bottom-line. Individuals and companies spend a high level of resources designing, sourcing, manufacturing, marketing and selling their products but often devote little focus on getting them to where they’re needed, on time and in one piece.
Seaspace, like all independents, face stiff competition from the multi-national behemoths that try and dominate the market with volume and numbers but with service standards barely featuring. Personal attention to detail with dedicated client managers, high service standards, multiple options and solutions, and clear and helpful resources don’t have to equate to high costs. Getting the process right, from the start, and following it successfully through to completion with one or at most two direct points of contact is worth its weight in gold – to the client! Getting people to look beyond a bare-bones price and to recognise real added value, that’s our challenge.