Mr. Richard Thorpe
Richard, first off remind me, where did we meet? At that time you were in another company I believe, so start off by telling our readers about your career in freight forwarding and shipping.
We first met in KL at the GPLN conference a few years back when I was with another Auckland based company.
I had always had an interest in trucks while growing up and so, after gaining a Geography BA (Hons) degree in 1985, I started my career in the UK in international road transport. I loved the cut and thrust of that industry…these were before the EU borders relaxed, so we had customs to deal with. I was involved in the French, Belgian and Italian markets to start with, then ended up 100% with the Spanish market.
I went traveling in 1991-92, I spent some time in New Zealand and after returning to the UK decided to make the move back. I arrived in 1993 and worked for Meadows Freight until 2000 in roles from export sea-freight supervisor through to export manager for sea and air. I then went sailing around the world in the BT Global Challenge 2000-01 and returned to work for an old client who was an export fruit marketer, so I looked after their shipping for 3 ½ years.
Having promised myself to avoid freight forwarding again I was lured back by Oceanbridge Shipping to build their Marine and Projects division. I concentrated on marine cargo, primarily boats and marine equipment, but also any out of gauge project cargo as well – all the interesting parts of forwarding. Putting my love of boats and yachting together with my logistics knowledge meant I had the dream job!
In 2012 I left to join TNL International to promote the new marine leisure logistics brand GAC Pindar in the Australasian market.
What are the main activities of TNL Pindar?
TNL Pindar is a division within TNL International Ltd. TNL are a New Zealand based freight forwarder with offices in Auckland, Nelson, Christchurch and an office in Melbourne now.
Pindar is the brand for Pindar Sailing Partners; a yacht sailing team and, through its principal Andrew Pindar, have supported sailing for over thirty years. Pindar joined with GAC in 2011 to bring a new marine leisure logistics brand to the market.
TNL Pindar is primarily there for shipping boats, marine equipment and any project / out of gauge cargo through TNL International. We act as the agent for GAC Pindar in the UK and in some cases use different agents around the world from the usual TNL agents. These agents are like ourselves and are specialised in boats and projects handling.
A lot of our business is one off shipments for private individuals who have purchased boats off shore and are looking to ship them home to New Zealand. We also export personal boats from NZ and handle new boats built in NZ, from small aluminium boats through to Super-yacht tenders and boats up to 80 to 90 feet, as well as yacht masts and booms. We also handle excavation and mining equipment and even, once, an airplane from Auckland to Germany!
Elaborate a bit about shipping to/from New Zealand. Who calls there regularly? Do you have roro, container and breakbulk ships coming to New Zealand regularly?
We are served by most of the main container lines; Maersk, MSC, CMA CGM, ANL, OOCL, COSCO, etc…we have regular RORO calls by Wallenius Wilhelmsen and Höegh plus Armacup and MOL. Swire Shipping offer more of a break bulk service to and from Asia but we do not get too many charter vessels…we have to spend big to encourage them our way! Depending on the cargo we have to move we make regular use of the container lines, although not all are keen to carry what we can offer, but we know who to contact for which service / region required. We make good use of the RORO services especially from Northern Europe, East Coast USA and trans-Tasman. Swire are also good to have access to and, through Rickmers, we have the option to ship from Europe via Singapore transshipment.
Despite its size New Zealand trades with many countries around the world…the largest market, like everywhere else, is China but New Zealand has regular trade with the USA, north and south east Asia, the Middle East and the UK and Europe.
Can you provide us with some examples of project cargoes that you have handled into New Zealand (or out of)?
One of the first shipments I did whilst at TNL Pindar was an aircraft to Germany. We took most of the two wings off, put them in a 40ft container and then used RORO back to Germany for the fuselage. We have shipped a couple of 49m long yacht masts to Northern Finland…you cannot get much further away from New Zealand doing that…this entailed trucking 200km to Tauranga, shipping to Zeebrugge then trucking through five countries to northern Finland. We have shipped a brand new 75ft luxury motor yacht from Kaohsiung to Auckland, numerous boats to and from the Mediterranean, northern Europe and the USA. We are now handling over 100 boats a year.
As agents for GAC Pindar we also are involved in sailing event logistics. When the Extreme Sailing Series has come to Sydney the past three years I have been on hand in Sydney to oversee the AQIS clearance, then delivery in and out of the site. In 2014-15 we were involved with the Volvo Ocean Race and are once again. This has just departed Alicante in Spain this month. I will travel to Cape Town in December to assist with the pack up of the village there and get the containers pre-cleared for biosecurity clearance over there. In February we will receive around 120 FEU plus airfreight units into Auckland and we build the Volvo Ocean Race Village, look after all the logistics and material handling, then pack it all up and send it off to Newport, Rhode Island. We work closely with the GAC Pindar “On Ground Traveling Team” who go to every stopover…it is hard work but very rewarding when it all comes together!
Are there floating cranes available in New Zealand ports?
There are floating cranes in Auckland and Wellington but these are now museum pieces! This is a drawback, so any really heavy cargo needs to arrive on charter vessels which have the lifting capacity. Our port cranes in Auckland and Tauranga can lift up to 65 tonnes so this covers most of our requirements.
Is renewable energy a big thing in New Zealand these days, wind power, tidal, etc.?
The initial run on renewable wind power has slowed down and we do not have the volumes coming through as we saw maybe five or six years ago. Tidal is looking to make a start but nothing has really got going…we have a strict and laborious Resource Consent Act that seems to slow down these kinds of developments…and costs developers hundreds of thousands of dollars even before they start! In time I am sure things will pick up again and we are always keen to get involved…we do have an advantage in that our parent company also owns a domestic heavy lift project cargo transport company, so we can offer a seamless through to final destination service.
Visiting New Zealand and tasting your great wines is likely high on many people’s bucket lists. Can you give the thirsty reader some input on some nice wineries, spots where one could have a wine stay? Any other specific spots on the island that perhaps are less known to the “public” that you as a local can recommend?
Due to where my wife is from I have visited the Hawke’s Bay region in the North Island many times. This is a great wine growing area and we now go there annually to do a wine tour on bicycles – some have been more “successful” than others in terms of staying on the bikes!
If you like a good Pinot Noir you have to go to Central Otago in the South Island. Near there is also the tourist mecca of Queenstown where you can jump off perfectly good bridges, hurl yourself down steep flying foxes, run the rapids white water rafting and go to within a millimetre of rock faces jet boating down a river. After these activities you certainly need a calming drink!
Marlborough at the top of the South Island and Martinborough at the bottom of the north are also good wine growing areas. Other popular tourist areas are Rotorua and the Bay of Islands. We also have skiing in the winter in the south but also only four hours by car from Auckland! And despite what the locals say about our traffic, Auckland is also worth a visit.
I moved here for the quality of life and have no regrets…we work hard but also know how to relax and we have a great outdoors where we are able to do that!