Q&A with Mr. Albert Pegg of Atlas Breakbulk Alliance (ABA) in Antwerp
Tell us about your network, when was it established and what was the reason for establishing it? Who runs/owns ABA?
The Atlas Breakbulk Alliance was/is an idea of the Founding Father of the Atlas Group of Networks Mr. Luc Huysmans. It was partly also instigated by a number of members of the Atlas Logistics Network who were not always satisfied with the know-how as regards breakbulk and project cargo of their fellow members. Luc asked me to take ownership, which I did on January 1st this year. Together with marketing, sales and subcontractors (such as the insurance company) we started working on the so-called “Reasons to buy” earlier this year. By the time the Breakbulk Conference & Exhibition Europe 2016 (May 23rd – 26th) took place in our hometown Antwerp, we were ready and started selling the concept.
How many members do you have currently and how many do you allow to join in each country?
We have 40+ members and 25+ candidates being vetted as we speak. In principle the membership is exclusive. There might be exceptions in the bigger countries such as Russia, China, USA, Brazil and others, but that will depend on the coverage the actual member gives, both in terms of geography and specialization. If and when we are forced by circumstances to appoint a 2nd member, this will be done in full transparency with the current member.
What are the advantages of joining a network? Tell our readers a bit about the value added services that they can expect if they join ABA. What kind of fees are we talking about per year?
- Our own Atlas Line Breakbulk Bill of Lading
- FMC registered
- Japan Customs approved
- Registered with Chinese Ministry of Commerce and Transport
- Registered with Canada Border Services Agency
- Conflict arbitration
- Continuous personal development
- Centralized procurement possibilities
- Performance bonds for large projects
- FMC, AMS, ISF & AFR filing applications
- IT & Software solutions through our partnership with WiseTech Global
- On-line cargo insurance premiums and certificates
- Tailor-made E&O facilities
- Presence at major events
- Lead generation
- Features in major magazines
- Constant viral presence
- Insurance coverage in the unlikely case of protracted default or bankruptcy of fellow members
- Payment surveillance program
Our yearly membership fee is USD 2,000.
Do you also organise conferences where people can meet each other? Where and when will your next event be held?
Our yearly event is planned just before Breakbulk Europe 2017 in Antwerp, as most of our members tend to participate anyhow. We kill two birds with one stone so to speak, they only need to arrive one day earlier, which most of them tend to do anyhow.
Do shipowners have interest in your network and do you help your members to liaise with shipowners as part of your services?
As stated above central purchasing is an option, having been on the shipowners side for most of my life, I have been talking to quite a few shipping lines and yes reactions were more than positive.
There are many networks around the world, just last week we had a q&a with another network, what would you say distinguishes your network from others?
The drive to create an Atlas Breakbulk Alliance FAMILY, both our Founding Father and I share this belief. I know this is a “soft” value, but when it comes on top of being equal or better (see further for example) than your competitors in all other aspects, it can and will make a difference to our primarily family-owned members. Due to our rule of exclusivity, we will never be the biggest, but we do strive to be world-class. Our slogan “By members for members” puts our members first and their customers first. Our network ultimately is about the strength of our members and we will facilitate and support them in any way we can. We are most probably the only global network covering their financial security through an insurance company registered with Lloyds, which guarantees a neutral handling by 3rd parties in case of any financial liabilities. We are unique in the world with this product covering our members up to an amount of USD 100.000 through this program.
Tell us about yourself and your own shipping background. How did you end up becoming the front man for Atlas Network?
I started in 1971 with CMB – The Belgian Line. I took evening and weekend classes at the Professional Institute of Port Clerks and Antwerp University during the first ten years of my career because I had originally studied Germanic languages and Political and Social Sciences which certainly were not the best foundation for a career in shipping and logistics. I learned the ropes in documentation, disbursement accounts, claims, customs, invoicing and the booking desk until finally they allowed me in 1979 to go on the road and sell our services to the major shippers and forwarders.
In 1985 I became the Deputy Manager of CMB’s East Africa Line, later on Manager of their Belgian Agency (division of CMB) for West-, Central- and East Africa, then Deputy General Manager of West-African Liner Agency (Walina – a CMB-subsidiary), then General Manager of Walina and Manager of Aseco (also a CMB-subsidiary). Later on President of Walina and Portmade as well as Managing Director of Aseco and Safmarine Belgium. I also formed I-CAN the Inter-Continental Agency Network, the forerunner of S5 Agency World and was a Board Member at the Antwerp Shipping Federation (ASF) as well as subsidiaries of ASF and Aseco Int’l. The regular lines of CMB (named CMB-Transport) meanwhile were taken over by Safmarine in 1996.
In 1999 Safmarine in turn was taken over by the AP Möller Maersk-Group and I was asked to run the breakbulk (MPV: Multi-Purpose Vessels) lines into East and West Africa. Until mid-1996 I was the MPV Trades Executive with full P&L responsibility and until mid-1997 I was the Sales and Marketing Executive of that division. When I was asked to leave Safmarine I took a half year sabbatical and decided to start my own consultancy company Enerjetixx.
I received stints from a whole host of companies and Authorities in shipping, forwarding, heavy lifting, port security and ICT-companies of which some turned into long term assignments. One such appointment was for the Antwerp Port Authority, whom I served for 7 years+ as Senior Advisor and Senior Business Development Manager for Project Cargo.
End of September 2015 my assignment at the Port came to an end since I had reached the retirement age. Soon afterwards I received a call from the Founding Father and earlier mentioned Luc Huysmans, who told me after one meeting that I would be the right man in the right place to run a specialized forwarders network for breakbulk and project cargo. The rest as they say, is history.
What originally led you to the shipping industry in the first place?
As stated before I was studying Germanic Languages/Political and Social Sciences since my dream was to become a journalist and see the world. I ended up with the shipping virus and saw the world; all’s well that ends well!