Commentary

Commentary

Yesterday was gray, gloomy and rainy in Newark, New Jersey — just the kind of day Conrad H.C. Everhard would have picked for a luncheon in his memory.
These are heady days for Hamburg, with its home carrier Hapag-Lloyd on the verge of acquiring the Chilean line CSAV’s container assets to leapfrog a couple of Asian rivals into fourth place in the global rankings just five years after it was rescued from a near-certain bankruptcy and a humiliating takeover by Singapore’s Neptune Orient Lines.
It’s easy to get carried away in building extra time into supply chains in the chaotic environment of 2014. Fear of disappointing customers just once can lead to overly cautious transit time assumptions.
Brokers beware: A new interpretation of law regarding who may be held responsible for events that result in injury may land you in court — or worse.
The baking of literally billions of Girl Scout cookies and the subsequent distribution and delivery of tens of millions of boxes must be accomplished within a narrow time frame, creating one of today’s truly remarkable logistical feats, and earning admiration from corporate and military logistics alike.
The good news: corporations are taking sustainability seriously.
In her 2008 book, “The Celebrity Experience: Insider Secrets to Delivering Red Carpet Customer Service,” author and motivational speaker Donna Cutting delivers some simple advice to companies of all types when dealing with those who buy their services: “Give them their chicken soup.”
As much of North America thaws out from a brutal winter, the burning question in freight transportation is whether the heavy congestion experienced in many areas was solely a weather-related phenomenon or whether limits in transportation capacity are finally starting to be revealed.
In my 42-plus years in the industry, I’ve seen many variations of what we now call alliances — joint services, slot-charter arrangements, vessel-sharing agreements, alliances and now mega-alliances — and more no doubt will follow.
Congress again will consider an infrastructure fund, this time supported by a 1 percent tax on freight charges. Why shippers shouldn’t lose sleep about it becoming law.
Few in the industry combine the breadth of experience and willingness to share their opinions in an open forum. Ron Widdows, former NOL-APL chief who now heads Hamburg-based Rickmers Group, is one of them.
If you think drayage is a tough job today, imagine doing it with horses.
Though it seems odd to hear myself called an “elder statesman,” my 42 years in transportation allow me an opinion of the industry today. Is it better or worse, or just different?
Combine several hundred longshoremen on a work break with energetic speakers using microphones they don’t need, and you get a lot of noise.