XEROX TAPS TOWER TO HANDLE IMPORT TRANSACTIONS \ FORWARDER TO TAKE CARE OF DEALINGS IN 35 PORTS

XEROX TAPS TOWER TO HANDLE IMPORT TRANSACTIONS \ FORWARDER TO TAKE CARE OF DEALINGS IN 35 PORTS

Xerox Corp., which dubs itself ''The Document Company,'' prefers them paperless.

The Rochester, N.Y.-based consumer products giant is looking to eliminate paper customs clearances through a new contract it recently signed with Tower Group International Inc.Under the pact, for which neither company released details, Tower is Xerox's national customs broker and will handle Xerox's import transactions in more than 35 ports of entry.

Tower, the New York-based international freight forwarder and logistics company, will use its document imaging and retention system to help Xerox image all of its import documents and retain them.

Xerox is the second major multinational company to employ Tower's imaging system. In October 1996, Federal Express Corp. signed on as a document imaging customer with Tower.

The Xerox pact is a major coup for Tower. Xerox is one of the world's largest manufacturers and its volume of imports and exports dwarfs others in its field.

To handle the import business, Tower is opening an office in Rochester to serve as the hub of operations for Xerox. Operations at the new site begin this month as Tower clears Xerox shipments crossing the U.S.-Canadian border.

Later this year, the subsidiary of the McGraw-Hill Cos. will ramp up to clear cargo at sea and inland ports, including Atlanta; Laredo, Texas; Los Angeles; Miami; Newark, N.J.; and New York.

In future, Tower will use remote location filing to clear all entries from its Rochester hub office.

''We selected Tower Group because of its strong commitment to automate the import process, its document imaging and record-retention capabilities and its national coverage,'' said Linnea Erickson, Xerox's customs automation program manager.

Tower called Xerox one of the most proactive importers to partner with U.S. Customs in new automation procedures.

''Xerox is right there at the leading edge,'' said Arthur Litman, Tower Group's vice president of regulatory affairs and compliance. ''They are eager to push the envelope. So far, they have been spot-on.''

Tower has used its imaging system in-house for five years.

It will benefit Xerox by offering immediate access to the shipper's documents for all ports of entry while also adhering to U.S. Customs' record-keeping requirements.