Achill Northern Ireland Photo

AB Cargo Limited, Belfast, Northern Ireland

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Interview with

Mr. Tony Budde

Managing Director

Tony, first of all, could you please tell us about the history of your company? When was it established, who owns it and what is your primary line of business?

The business model of AB Cargo has been used a number of times locally and internationally in my previous roles. I was encouraged by a group of investors to take the next step, so in January 2016, AB Cargo was formed.

The cornerstone of our services is managing a few key accounts that are heavily involved in the Marine and Oil & Gas sectors. We offer these clients total global logistics solutions. Locally, we are also a strong customs clearance company working for other forwarders as their nominated broker. Below is a list of other products and services that we offer:

  • Air freight
  • Domestic logistics
  • European logistics
  • Marine Logistics
  • Oil & Gas Logistics
  • Ocean Freight (Imports and Exports)
  • Liner services (Including Dry Containers and Flat Racks / Open Top Containers)
  • Marine Insurance
  • OOG/Break Bulk / Project Cargo / Chartering
  • Packing and Container Loading
  • Ro/Ro Services
  • Warehousing
  • Virtual Warehousing (IT)
Northern Ireland Map

Tell us about the ports available in Northern Ireland and, for the readers who do not understand the Irish situation, perhaps you can elaborate a bit on the historical relationship between Northern Ireland and Ireland? It will help if our readers can understand your position regarding the EU and its effect on logistics.

Belfast is the primary port in Northern Ireland, Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, and they account for 75% of all trade on the island. Belfast, however, is the UK and Ireland’s premier wind farm and renewable energy port, with investments and commitments from DONG Energy, Siemens and Ridgeway Renewables to name a few, being involved with the UK and Ireland’s first bespoke wind terminal in 2012.

With the impending Brexit situation, there’ll be a number of factors affecting the outcome of the trading status of the UK, the EU and the Republic of Ireland. The most disappointing aspect for all businesses locally is the uncertainty of the outcome, because as businesses we cannot make plans and must wait until the EU and UK have come to a conclusion.

Achill Island in County Mayo is the largest of the Irish isles

One of the main stumbling blocks is an actual physical border within the island of Ireland itself and how that will be implemented by our politicians, both on EU and UK sides, for trade and people. Being a customs broker, we are engaged and ready for WTO rules should a ‘no deal’ situation be the outcome of the UK departure.

However, even at this late stage of negotiations, Brexit may yet still be delayed to help negotiate a deal and there’s the possibility of a ‘backstop’. This could give Northern Ireland a very unique trading advantage with the UK and EU while it’s in effect, although this would also cause a number of political and regulatory issues if implemented.

Our main concern is the movement of people and the agricultural industry locally, as the majority of these products move north and south and involve fast transit in Europe predominantly, where the majority of the import and export industries already trade overseas outside the EU. I guess we will all have to wait until 29th March!

Dingle, a town in County Kerry, Ireland

What are the main commodities being imported and exported in your area?

The top ten commodities exported and imported are:

  • Aircraft Parts
  • Oil & Gas Engineering
  • Quarry & Mining Machinery
  • Plant Machinery
  • Automotive Components
  • Chemicals
  • Optical Devices
  • Medical Devices
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Large/Varied Number of Agricultural Products

Do you sometimes handle project and oversized cargo? Could you provide us with a few examples?

As well as moving mining and quarry machinery to the USA and Australia and transporting aircraft engine cowls within Europe, my favourite project to date would be the managed transport and supply chain solution for 258 x 113kg lithium batteries for a storage energy project at a major local power station. This included not only safe international transportation but also the completion of very specific customs and documentation requirements, hazardous storage of the goods and restrictive delivery conditions. I enjoyed the challenges this project offered.

Another example of our project management skills was the handling of 185,000kg of construction material and interior fittings by airfreight to Saudi Arabia over three months for the King Abdullah Sports Stadium.

Boyeeghter Bay, or commonly known as Murder Hole Beach

Do you belong to any freight forwarding networks currently? If so, why?

I intend for the company to join two networks. We have recently become a member of the Cross Ocean network and we’ll be making a decision in the near future on the second.

I find these networks and their conferences invaluable for making the right connections and building strong working relationships.

When did you start your career in freight forwarding Tony? What made you choose this kind of career?

Many years ago, fresh out of college, I started my career as an air export clerk, before moving into customs brokerage and import. After gaining several years of experience, a mix of promotions, position changes and takeovers, I ended up a director fifteen years later. Now looking back after twenty-five or more years, I have a feeling freight forwarding found me.

Belfast Skyline

Ireland is a scenic country. Can you tell us about some less well known places that you would recommend a visitor should see?

There is no signpost for this place, but on the road out of Westport on the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’, you can drive along the coast until you meet a sharp bend. On the corner there’s an old pub called ‘Shebeen’, probably a few hundred years old. The landlord is very friendly and will deliver a pint of Guinness across the road to some picnic tables overlooking the coast. From there, you can get directions to a dirt track that takes you to a small walkway leading down the side of a steep hill and finally onto a beautiful, secluded, private beach. Every time I have gone there I have had the place to myself. White cliffs, golden sand and pure blue waters. However, keep in mind that the Atlantic waters are cold all year round in Ireland.

How is best to get in touch with you?

My contact details are as follows:

Tony Budde
Managing Director
AB Cargo Limited
Office line: +44 (0)2890 511299
Mobile: +44 (0)7951054475

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