It is Thursday the 11th of August and we are here again.
Last week, I was in Croatia. I visited the port city of Rijeka and also the beautiful city of Opatija where my grandmother had already visited some 50 years ago. The Adriatic sea is gorgeous, and with islands abound, it is really a place to visit with crystal clear waters, friendly people, nice food, and good wines. You may view some pictures here from the trip which was courtesy of my host Liburnia Maritime Rijeka (their boat) www.liburniamar.hr.
It was also last week when I thought of the old saying “workers of the world unite” but in today’s context I should rephrase it to “project freight forwarders / forwarders of the world unite”. It may be theoretical only, impossible on a practical level. Yet, when I learned that my former company (which I left in 2012) was sold to one of the biggest of them all, I got to thinking. Lines being flush with cash from COVID-19 and supply chain disruption freight rates, my first thought was indeed: “Ah, now for sure, one shipowner made it abundantly clear that ‘Hey, we take no prisoners here; we want to do it all, end to end 100%’ ”. I am, of course ,talking about the purchase of the Martin Bencher Group by Maersk Line. The detailed press release is in the shipping news below, but why I am so awoken by it is because I was one of the two founders back in 1997 (see interview and history explained here from the 4 minute mark).
Before that, I even worked for what was then Martin Bencher (UK) Ltd., which has a history dating back to 1881. As you know, everything in the UK is old and thus respectable ? .
Traditionally, the ship owners did the ocean part, and freight forwarders did the land part. However, increasingly over the last few years, the ship owners have gone ashore and even a couple of forwarders and shippers are now ship owners in their own right. Yet, this is nothing on the scale of what Maersk Line in particular is now doing with a Direct hit against project freight forwarders. One contact among several commented the following to me and I quote:
“Meanwhile this will also be a big game changer in the project market. We just had a case two weeks ago, when our coordinator had asked Maersk for rates for our mid-sized customer’s project. After two hours, the customer told us Maersk had called them direct, saying MSK will, in any case, make it 1000 USD cheaper per container.
Luckily, this is a loyal customer, and they told Maersk there’s so much added value we bring that they will use us, and we then booked it from another carrier.
Buying market share is not the same as being capable, is it?”
Sad always to see yet an independent and well-managed project freight forwarder go to the history books and be gobbled up. Of course, it is a people business. So it remains to be seen how many will stay on. Frequently, when mergers and acquisitions do happen, after a while, some of the key staff move on. This is because they are independently minded and not easily crushed in a system where beancounting and internal politics is often allowed to trump innovation. Let us hope that this acquisition proves me wrong, although time will tell.
It does mean, however, that freight and now also project freight forwarders do need to look at the way they do business. First and foremost:
1. Stay more loyal to the carriers who treat you well; don’t jump ship the minute you can save a bit. I think perhaps your customers now finally understand what you do for them. There ARE such lines available.
2. Explain to your customers not to shop around endlessly which, of course, forces you to do the same in turn. Help them to see that ‘savings’ can often be more costly in the end.
3. Clarify to them your perfect role as the bridge to several solutions, not just one solution. The ship owner will only offer their solution, and it may not fit. In fact, cargo may be rolled over again and again, as many customers have seen. Show your worth to your clients by having alternatives ready. What is the owner’s claim procedure, if any? Does anyone even answer email or pick up the phone?
4. Stay incredibly close to your customers as only you know how. Spend time developing that personal, business relationship. Loyalty is key, and there are people in this world not only going for price.
5. implement a traffic light system style rating system (eg. red, yellow, green) as to which shipowners are forwarder-friendly, and speak to your colleagues and networks. You may be a member of FIATA or similar. Since shippers are together in shippers’ associations and ship owners in cartels of different sizes, so must you be!
There are more golden rules. One is, of course, to keep on reading projectcargo-weekly.com, but regrettably, that doesn’t guarantee you business ?.
As for the shipowners, they have different policies, and one of them is CMA CGM which bought CEVA Logistics about 2 years ago did come out directly with a statement about their keeping distance to the line. At least that is something….again reality, of course, will show. We thus republish an interview we had with the head of project cargo at CMA CGM below which seems to indicate at least a different approach with flexibility and not total dominance in mind.
Now on the shipping front in general, we have something very interesting in store for you today. We first of all speak to a company that is soon to be producing collapsible containers, not that it is a novel idea so to speak, but it seems that this total product and not only the container itself may hit the spot. SPECTAINER, headquartered in Australia and Singapore, is who I am talking about.
After that we visit incredible India – the land of curry and a sizable young population and increasing improvements in infrastructure – so yes, it is timely to go to India. The law firm CALLIDUS gives us their insights and offers you legal solutions and a reasonable cost.
We finally revisit the South of France and speak to CMA CGM and given the current situation of freight forwarders & shipping lines, we republish an interview with the manager of special cargo. In the shipping news, there is also a comment from CEVA (now owned by CMA CGM) distancing themselves from the line – i.e., related to this interview.
Naturally, we have got shipping news, trade intel, featured video and photo, as well as the ever valuable wise words.
Until next week, I remain,
Bo H. Drewsen
Nicholas Press, MD & CEO Spectainer Australia & Singapore was interviewed by Bo H. Drewsen, Editor in Chief at PCW
Joy Thattil, Managing Partner at Callidus Legal was interviewed by Bo H. Drewsen, Editor in Chief at PCW
Stéphane Berninet – Head of CMA CGM Project Cargo Division
Stéphane Berninet – Head of CMA CGM Project Cargo Division interviewed by Bo H. Drewsen at PCW
A. P. Moller – Maersk to Acquire Danish Company Martin Bencher Group to Strengthen Handling of Project Logistics
Refer to editorial for my comments on this news.
“Martin Bencher will be an excellent fit to Maersk and our integrator strategy, strengthening our ability to provide project logistics services to our global clients. When Martin Bencher joins the Maersk family, we will be able to deliver project logistics services with a high degree of reliability, a proven track-record, and a strong focus on Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE). In addition to supporting our existing customers’ project logistics needs, we will also be able to provide a more comprehensive offering to a wide array of industries.”
– Karsten Kildahl
Regional Managing Director in Europe of Maersk
Ceva maintains distance from its owner CMA CGM: “It’s the only way”
Another one of the shipping lines that recently bought a freight forwarder (although not specialised in projects) here comments on their policy concerning this and it does seem to differentiate from Maersk when it comes to policy, PCW would tend to agree with below that if this is proven right it is the way forward. It was first aired in 2020 but still valid today.
For Ceva Logistics’ CEO it is not an option for Ceva to be run as an integrated logistics company under its owner CMA CGM. The businesses are two “very different worlds,” Mathieu Friedberg tells ShippingWatch.
Podcast: Maritime in Minutes – July
Seatrade Magazine is generally well informed and also knowledgeable with excellent podcasts. Listen to this one for example!
In the latest episode of Maritime in Minutes Seatrade Maritime News Editor, Marcus Hand, and Europe Editor, Gary Howard, discuss and comment on the stories that stood out on Seatrade Maritime News during the last month.
In this episode find out about: What is the greatest cause of loss of life in the dry bulk shipping industry.
- How shipping markets performed in the first six months of 2022.
- Learn about the hunt for cheap methanol.
- Get the low down on HMM’s expansion plans.
- Falling prices of containers due to an oversupply.
- Why there won’t be a peak season for container shipping.
- How US port congestion has switched from the West Coast to the East Coast.
- The threat of a strike at the Port of Felixstowe.
- New demurrage and detention rules in the US.
- The end of paper charts for navigation.
Which Countries Produce the Most Natural Gas?
Although not directly influencing shipping, but still, the gas and the current Russian invasion and war in Ukraine may indeed have an impact on shipping this winter. Therefore from a gas supply perspective an interesting infographic here about who produces how much gas worldwide.. it seems we can be without Russia but …
Using data from BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, the above infographic provides further context on the gas market by visualizing the world’s largest gas producers in 2021.
Cepsa and Ohmium Team-up for Green Hydrogen Projects in Iberian Peninsula
Spanish energy company Cepsa and PEM electrolyzers company Ohmium have agreed to develop green hydrogen projects in the Iberian Peninsula.
The companies will collaborate to develop and build initially small-scale projects aiming to develop a green hydrogen platform using Ohmium’s modular PEM electrolyzer. There is also the possibility of providing Cepsa with up to 300 megawatts of installed hydrogen production capacity.
Masdar Enters into JV to Develop 2 Gigawatts of Clean Energy in Tanzania
The two companies will form a co-owned joint venture (JV) company after an agreement to this effect was signed by Abdulla Zayed, Head of Business Development & Investment at Masdar, and Maharage Chande, Managing Director of TANESCO. January Makamba, Tanzania’s Minister for Energy, was present at the signing ceremony.
Germany-Based WACKER Expands Charleston, Tennessee, Operations
“We are pleased to explore the expansion of our production capability in Charleston and add jobs in a market that continues to grow. This additional manufacturing capability allows us to continue to expand our global portfolio for downstream products while accelerating our growth and adding high-quality, well-paying jobs in Tennessee,” WACKER-Charleston’s Senior Director and Site Leader Ken Collins added.
Korean Firm Invests €627m to Build Electric Vehicle Component Plant in Poland
he new plant will ultimately provide employment for over 500 people. “The decision to place our European hub… in Stalowa Wola, was obvious and rational,” said Woncheol Park, the CEO of Nexilis’ mother company
SKC group, pointing to the support the group has received from the local authorities in securing permits and financing and a promise of further development of key infrastructure.
Port of Oskarshamn – COSCO Vessel Tian Jian Discharging Wind Turbine Tower Sections
Paid a visit to the Port of Oskarshamn today in a one day trip driving a total of 685 km to go onboard and witness the arrival on a fantastic day in port, they just don’t come any better. Hardly any wind, pleasant 24c and a bit of skies amongst the blu and then sun rays hitting the ocean. Simply awesome! Special thanks and credit to: COSCO Shipping Sweden, TSA Shipping Agency Sweden & Port of Oskarshamn Authority
Weather is not always nice, which also goes for shipping, especially during loading or discharging. On a hot day in Grenaa, Denmark it was raining cats and dogs but mv Atlantic Bulker was still loading scrap iron for Chennai. Here is a good shot that I managed to take through my car window.