Mobile Pres Register
Q. What exactly does a logistics company do? Get trucks, boats and trains lined up for shipping goods?
Chard: That’s absolutely correct. We are a full service international logistics provider. Essentially what that means to the man on the street is that people who are importing to the United States or exporting from the United States will often require some assistance to get through the process, in terms of documents, paperwork, rules and regulations. So we are really an agent that facilitates the import and export of goods.
Q. What are some examples of things you’ve helped move?
Chard: We shipped a roller coaster to China. That was a significant volume of cargo that all had to be sequenced in order to arrive at the appropriate time in the construction process. We also sent a velodrome (a wooden track for bicycle racing) to Puerto Rico for the 2010 Central America and Caribbean Games. Those are some bigger jobs, but a lot of our customers are exporting the same good to the same country all year, and we’ll facilitate that. And it runs down to individual jobs — we do a lot of boats, yachts, trailers and cars purely for individuals.
Q. How has your company grown in recent years?
Chard: The growth has really been from 2008 onwards. In 2009 our gross revenue was $19.2 million. In 2010 it was $46.9 million, and this year we expect to finish at $71.3 million. It’s been quite dramatic growth for the last three years. We’ve also grown from what in 2000 was just one office and three people. Today we are located in all over Southeast.
Originally we were focused on forestry products: wood paper and pulp. Any business has to grow, expand and evolve or else it will die. So we’ve invested a considerable amount of money in expanding the business and diversifying the business. You have to speculate to accumulate, but we’ve done that in a very organized and methodical fashion. The growth and profitability we’ve achieved in the current economic environment is really quite remarkable.
Q. How have the new facilities at the Port of Mobile affected your business and your outlook on the port’s prospects?
Chard: We are global in scale, but having a port here in Mobile is important to us. With the recent addition of Mediterranean Shipping Company, the port now has four of the worlds top five container carriers. It’s poised for something great. With the widening of the Panama Canal going on now, even bigger ships are going to be coming through, and they’ll be looking for an ideal location on the Gulf. Mobile is really it. It takes 12 hours to get into a berth in New Orleans, and 12 hours to get out, whereas in Mobile it’s three in, three out. That’s a considerable savings.
What’s key to the port’s success is the construction of the intermodal rail depot down by the container terminal, where we can get service to the interior of the country cost effectively. That would make Mobile a significant port.
Q. How much of your business goes through Mobile?
Chard: About 10 percent. A huge proportion business goes in and out of Memphis. You can reach 80 percent of the population of the U.S. within 24 hours from Memphis; it’s a very important location. If we had a decent rail connection between Memphis and Mobile, a huge proportion of that business would go out of Mobile, as opposed to what it does at the moment, which is go out of the West Coast.