Jeff Hammond, Global Head of Maersk Customs House Brokerage based in Charlotte, North Carolina USA, talked to Container News about Maersk’s decision to acquire Customs Brokerage, Vandegrift. Antonis Karamalegkos, journalist of CN, communicated with Maersk’s executive. Jeff Hammond marked among other things the expecting results of the acquisition and the negotiations’ duration.
CN: Which is the reason Maersk decided to acquire Vandegrift?
JH: Increasing Customs Brokerage offerings and capabilities is part of Maersk’s global initiative to expand Logistics & Services beyond container shipping. The USA and Canada markets are an important part of that strategy, hence the acquisition of Vandegrift.
CN:Why did Maersk choose Vandegrift and not some other company?
JH: Maersk conducted an extensive search to find the best company that aligned with its strategy. Vandegrift was selected for its reputation for quality and compliance, its people (170 staff and 25+ licensed customs brokers), its technology – which provides best–in–class visibility tools for Customs and supports efficient, paperless operating processes. In addition, beyond transactional services, Vandegrift has expertise in ancillary services such as Trade Consulting, Duty Drawback and Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) etc., all services which are in high demand from Maersk customers.
CN: How long did the negotiations with Vandegrift last?
JH: The process was approximately six months.
CN: What do you expect from this cooperation?
JH: We expect this acquisition to position us to significantly grow our customs brokerage activities with our customer base and our revenues. Equally important, we take a major step forward providing customers an integrated, end- to-end, seamless solution.
“Customs brokerage is fee generated and a highly profitable segment.”
CN: Which are the benefits, you would like to see?
JH: We expect a better customer experience due to increased capabilities and IT solutions brought by Vandegrift.
CN: Are you focusing in certain commodities?
JH: We are supporting all verticals and segments.
CN: Maersk is looking to expand their service beyond traditional port to port. We recently see many carriers moving to this direction (i.e. CMA CGM targets Ceva Logistics). This is a big change compared to the past mentality. Will this assist big carriers or will it add more administrative expenses?
JH: Customs brokerage is not administrative. This is a very important service required on all imports and most exports. It is fee generated and a highly profitable segment.
CN: It seems that carriers start penetrating services that traditionally offered by freight forwarders. In view of the fact that freight forwarders are among the top clients of carriers, do you see any conflict between those partners?
JH: This trend speaks more to every company in the supply chain trying to participate more in the customer wallet by upselling more services and responding to customer requests for more seamless supply chains with less handoffs.