GSS Louisiana-to-Savannah-to-Gibraltar-LIFO

Global Shipping Services (GSS) – Houston, USA

Interview with

Mr. Paul Mcauley
Vice President Projects – North America

Paul Mcauley

To begin with Paul, tell our readers about the history of GSS. When was it established and who owns it?

Global Shipping Services was founded in 2004 by Mr. Morten Olesen. GSS began in a truckers warehouse and has now grown to 4 USA offices and approximately 50 staff.

Map of Houston in Texas, USA

Do you have experience in handling project cargoes? The USA is a huge country, and many overseas freight forwarders have come up short when trying to find a reliable company to do inland transports in the US. Elaborate for our readers, if you will, on a couple of the projects that you have undertaken with complex inland moves.

GSS is heavily involved in project cargo, both import/export and domestic. In 2010, we set up the Houston office as a dedicated project cargo center. In addition, we have project personnel in our New Jersey office to handle OOG cargo. In the 10 years since we opened GSS Houston, we have handled many vessel charters and interesting projects, the two that come to mind are:

The most interesting was an extremely urgent project. We were supposed to ship via Houston with CMA or Maersk, but conditions and timelines with the customer’s projects changed, and we had to switch to a last in / first out basis with Big-Lift. We also had to switch the port of loading in order to achieve a faster ocean transit times (11 days) from Savannah to Gibraltar. Then, at the last minute, we had to arrange back-to-back vessel discharge from BigLift vessel Happy Dover to the Heerema Crane vessel MV Sleipnir off shore, approx. 20 miles out from Gibraltar (l MV Sleipnir is the world’s largest crane vessel 2 x 10,000 mt lift capacity.

Louisiana to Savannah to Gibraltar – LIFO

We switched the trucking to Savannah. Permits were an issue and no travel was allowed on weekends, so we loaded Thursday, drove as far as we could, and then laid up for the weekend in a secure yard. Then on Monday, we arrived into the Savannah port around 4pm and delivered direct under hook to the vessel Happy Dover. Having a flexible trucker was key on this one—we had them booked to Houston, and when we switched on them, they had no complaints, just got on with the job, readjusted, and executed perfectly.

Louisiana to Savannah to Gibraltar – LIFO

We had excellent partners on this job from the trucker, Savannah terminal ops, surveyors, and the vessel owners Big Lift. Everyone was committed to the project and committed to ensuring it went smoothly. There were excellent communications and updates, and every one was informed at each stage.

The vessel arrived 1 day early, so everyone was extremely happy.

These are the kind of shipments we all live for.

The second interesting shipment was 16 units received directly from CMA-CGM vessel to trucks alongside and delivered to Russellville KY. With any direct discharge, timing is everything. We were on site in Savannah for 3 days prior to discharge, waiting with our trucker for the vessel to arrive, so we could complete the discharge smoothly. All the route surveys and permits were completed in advance. At the same time, we arranged the customs clearance prior to the discharge. Once the trucks were all loaded, we laid up in the port and departed the next day under police escort to Russellville, KY. The customer was waiting with cranes and riggers for the offload. And we are pleased to say it all went very smoothly. The key to success was communication, but also choosing the right partner for the trucking. At GSS, we firmly believe you cannot over communicate.

Louisiana to Savannah to Gibraltar – LIFO

Competition is hard, and there is always someone else out there who is “cheaper”. How do you ensure that you stand out amongst the competition?

“This ain’t Walmart” is one of my famous and favorite lines. You’re absolutely correct. There is always someone cheaper. At GSS, we do not portray or promote our services as the cheapest; the best maybe, but not the cheapest.

Our customers demand excellence of service, attention, and communication. They “expect” that when they hire GSS, everything will go as planned. And although it doesn’t always go as planned, we never disappoint the customer, and we always achieve the goal, meeting the schedule demanded by our client.

We Keep Our Promises!

And in our many decades of experience, going cheap is not always the cheapest option in the end. Delays due to poor service levels, late vessels, truckers not showing up… There are many things that can and will go wrong, if you are not paying attention and looking after each aspect and every shipment. We choose reliable carriers, reliable partners, and we have hired excellent personnel whom we are constantly training and who are constantly learning.

In 2018, we invested heavily in a new operating system—work smarter not harder.

Back-to-Back discharge
Back-to-Back discharge

Do you need a special licence to work as a freight forwarder in the US?

Yes, you need to be licensed, and you need to keep your licenses valid. GSS holds them

all: Licensed customs broker, NVOCC, FMC Holder , IATA, CTPAT, Export Compliance, TRACE and Licensed truck brokerage.

It Is essential to keep “current” and up-to-date on these, so you know and understand the changes in the industry.

Compliance is essential since 9/11 and Trace (Anti Corruption) is the latest program. Without these licenses and programs, you cannot bid for certain projects or customers, so they are essential to freight forwarders in the U.S.A.

Savannah to Russelville KY Direct discharge from CMA vessel
Savannah to Russelville KY – Direct discharge from CMA vessel

Freight forwarding as a business is not as well known in the US. Often, I have heard from overseas that it is not a “sought after” business career. People would rather be lawyers, bankers, dentists and what not. Of course, this problem is happening in many places, but have you found it difficult to find competent staff? Do you have in-house training set up for your new colleagues, and what exists in the way of education in logistics?

I agree. There is a huge shortage of logisticS personnel in the industry today, and it’s

slowly getting worse each year. 

Each region of the USA is vastly different with its own challenges.

Texas A&M University, located in Galveston, has a 6-year program to train all aspects of the maritime industry, seamanship and the logistics industry. Whilst not glamorous, as a career, it’s extremely interesting and secure. Every day brings something new.

We also have local networks such as the International Trade Managers Association (ITMA) which promotes maritime industry jobs and training. 

We use recruitment agencies and online recruitment tools to find good people, and we also use word of mouth within the industry to find good people looking to move on and up. 

Yes, GSS has training programs for each discipline from Customs, Airfreight, Ocean, and Projects. We like to teach colleagues new tools all the time. Every day we can learn something new in my experience.

18ft diameter piece from Louisiana via Galveston to Labuan via Singapore

Tell us about your most interesting project that involved both overseas and inland movement and if you could provide some pictures or a video perhaps.

In 2018 we had to deliver some OOG cargo to Labuan, Malaysia. We had to deliver the cargo to the end user, Shell Oil Company, in Labuan, and we had to arrange to offload it to the ground at their facility in Labuan.

We first trucked the cargo from Louisiana to Galveston (Texas), then Ro-Ro to Singapore (faster transit time ), and finally transferred it to a barge across to Labuan. Then, we offloaded it to trucks and delivered it to the job site where we had cranes set up waiting to offload.

The US is a nation of immigrants. What is your country of origin, and for how long have you lived and worked in the US? “Every man can make it in the US” was the mantra in our young days. Is that still so?

I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland during “the troubles with the IRA”, but we moved to Wales, my mother’s home country, when I was just 4 years old, so I consider myself Welsh.

I came to the USA in January 2001. I never really wanted to go to the USA, but now, it’s the best move I ever made. For sure 100%, the USA is still the land of opportunity. And if you set your mind to it and work hard, all your dreams are possible.

I have recently started my journey to citizenship and hope to become an American Citizen within the next 18 months.

18ft diameter piece from Louisiana via Galveston to Labuan via Singapore

Can you tell us about your future plans for Global Shipping Services, Houston?

We opened in Chicago, January 1st 2020, so we have recently expanded our operations and coverage into the midwest. 

We are always looking at new opportunities, even during these tricky times with COVID-19. We plan to expand to Los Angeles in 2020 and then into Atlanta in 2021…..that’s the plan.

What is the best way to get in touch with you?

The best way to contact me is by email paul-mcauley@glship.com or cell phone 281 705 2382

Our group email is: gsstx@glship.com