Fast Forward

Who Can You Trust?

As with any business relationship, entrusting your cargo to the right intermediary is paramount. Johnston Sweeper Co. in Chino, California, a C.H. Powell customer for more than 15 years, manufactures and ships its airport runway and street sweepers worldwide. But shipping 20,000-pound pieces of machinery wasn't always easy for this business.

"I dropped one freight forwarder even though they had extremely good rates," says Leslie Turner, export sales agent for Johnston Sweeper. She got the impression through discussions with the forwarder that the company wouldn't meet her shipping standards. "I could tell they were going to end up dumping things back on me and were not really going to resolve issues as they should," explains Turner, so she went to C.H. Powell, a company she felt would give her the necessary knowledge and assistance to ensure efficient and reliable freight transport. The company fulfilled Johnston Sweeper's top three priorities: Expertise, reaction and response time, and pricing.

What other qualities should you look for when selecting a freight forwarder? "Reputation, longevity in business, and the ability of the firm to answer the clients' needs," says Powell. "Those are the three most important items." Other considerations include finding out whether the forwarder handles certain products, such as hazardous or refrigerated materials.

"[Businesses] have to view the forwarder as the last line of defense," Powell explains. "[The forwarder] is going to be sure that his client conforms with all the government regulations that apply to export cargo. He acts as an agent of the exporter and, in most instances, is like an extension of that exporter's traffic department."

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This article was originally published in the August 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Fast Forward.

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