Long-time project cargo forwarding veteran Michael Confessore has joined Memphis-based Mallory Alexander International Logistics, where he will be building a dedicated project freight division. Confessore has a background in engineering and 23 years of transportation industry experience, including 11 years with Seattle-based global forwarder Expeditors International.
Confessore, who will serve as the firm’s new director of project and breakbulk services, told JOC.com the project market is “not crazy busy,” but he sees plenty of diverse opportunities, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities, capital project upgrades, and manufacturing relocations, where owners occasionally move a line or a plant back to the United States.
He plans to grow Mallory’s project group over time, concentrating on inbound projects and building a military group. “I always like to build things from scratch,” Confessore said in a statement.
“Mallory Alexander has always handled project freight, but with this new department we will be able to provide our customers with dedicated solutions and support,” added Mallory Alexander President Neely Mallory.
In an interview with JOC.com, Confessore said he would first look within the firm to find personnel for the new team.
“My philosophy has always been about looking for diamonds in the rough,” he told JOC.com. “I mentor all I work with, whether older or younger. I’m always looking for people to bring in.”
Every day a new adventure
In logistics, forwarders can tend to get stuck handling the same old import/export commodities, or to work in a particular mode like ocean or air, with no taste of the global projects world where every day is a different challenge, he said.
“Every day I’m doing something new: ocean charters, air charters, domestic movement, overseas. Every day is an adventure. A project comes along, you look through it and figure out what your experience adds, how you add value. What are the right questions to ask? It’s not just about answering tenders. You have to figure out what they are looking for.”
Confessore said he’s seen a rise in the past eight to 10 years in the “US-centric” trend of shippers self-performing tasks like ocean chartering for projects. In these cases, he finds that the shipper usually has an ex-forwarder on their team concentrating on ocean carriage, which can account for as much as a tenth of the logistics spend for a given project. However, there will still be a place for the forwarder to oversee thousands of freight tons moved via truck, rail, air charters, etc.
“There are plenty of other areas where project forwarders can make some money and bring some value,” before and after ocean carriage, he said. “We have to get it there, by rail, barge, and truck combinations. You have to come up with creative theories and deal with dimensional challenges. Ocean freight is the easiest part of it. Their technical guys know their ships and know what they can do. We have to know multiple things and understand other people’s equipment and make sure they don’t sub things out ...You have to know the integrity of your vendors.
“That’s where the challenges are. Ocean is just one piece. [Project forwarders] have multiple pieces to deliver from point A to point B.”