For its corporate clients, American River International (ARI), an international and domestic freight forwarding company, eliminates all of the stress related to U.S. and overseas shipping. The Melville, N.Y.-headquartered company cuts through the red tape, paperwork, and U.S. and foreign customs requirements, effectively clearing the way for the expedient delivery of goods.
ARI staff possesses detailed knowledge of local, national and international regulations, services and reciprocal arrangements to facilitate shipping anywhere in the world. “We help our customers evaluate the risks that may exist in their global supply chain and how they can best mitigate those risks,” says ARI founder and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Cook, whose company services about 30 percent of Fortune 1000 American corporations. “That’s our main business thrust. We create compliance and security in their international supply chains.”
The company’s services are especially important in the post-9/11 world. “The events of September 11, 2001 dramatically affected global supply chains, bringing compliance and security into the equation,” comments Cook. “Previously, companies operating in the global arena were primarily concerned with finding buyers and suppliers, and getting shipments packed, marked and labeled according to regulations. Compliance and security were relatively minor factors, but 9/11 changed all of that.”
Specifically, 9/11 placed the compliance-and-security onus on the already burdened backs of companies operating in the global arena, he continues. “As such, those have become some of the biggest areas where we can provide help,” Cook indicates. “We not only make sure our clients can remain competitive, but we help make sure their shipments are compliant and secure.”
ARI boasts a 26-year track record of providing successful import/export management consulting services. Besides compliance and security, current services cover areas such as implementation of standard operating procedures, C-TPAT analysis and implementation, and in-house training and education. The company has more than 450 U.S. and international offices for consulting, freight-forwarding and warehousing operations, and it works with a network of agents throughout the United States and around the world.
ARI’s unique and sophisticated approach combines consultation on a global scale with a forwarding operation to execute the advice it provides. That forwarding capability makes it unique among independent consultants, as it enables ARI to back up its recommendations and provide seamless import/export, transportation and warehousing services, carried through from the point of sale, to the transport and up until payment is collected or service rendered. “We have a total turnkey consulting operation,” says Cook. “Our final deliverable is always when the job is completely finished. Most consultants leave off with the recommendations they make. We actually implement our recommendations and make sure they’re up-and-running and successful.”
Other key differentiators include the company’s ability to grow into particular market segments and geographical areas, both here and abroad, as well as the quality of its staff. “We have no trainees in our employment ranks,” reveals Cook. “We only hire seasoned veterans. Our ability to attract quality personnel has been one of the major drivers our success.”
Another driver is its technology solutions, which includes a state-of-the-art screening system. “In the exporting world, companies have to be concerned about the various lists that the U.S. government produces, and these lists include the companies and individuals that they’re forbidden to trade with,” explains Cook. “When a purchase order comes in, we have an electronic screening system that automatically checks these ‘denied parties’ lists.”
Further, this screening solution interfaces directly with the U.S. government’s Web site and its mainframe operating systems.
“Also on the information technology side, we have our own programmers and business developers, which eliminates cumbersome bureaucracy,” Cook points out. “The client can access our IT professionals without having to go through various levels of management. In this way, their specific programming needs are immediately handled.”
Highly Evolved Logistics Service
Cook founded ARI in 1981. “We were originally located in New York City and involved in international business consulting,” he says. “Over the years, we grew to offer import/export trading, insurance and financial services. As the company continued evolving, we began providing international supply chain management services.”
In recent years, the company has demonstrated 20-percent annual growth. Currently, it is largely considered a mid-sized international logistics provider. “The U.S. government considers us a small company, because we have less than 250 employees, but in the international transportation service provider arena, we’re considered middle-market in terms of size,” says Cook.
As far as international logistic services, ARI works with customers to move their goods from origin to targeted destination. As a forwarding agent, it offers safe and efficient cargo routing that takes care of regulations, U.S. and foreign customs and any and all red tape encountered through the process. Moreover, it provides both direct airline service and consolidation, and it recommends the airport best suited to the client’s shipment needs. In addition, ARI assumes responsibility in seeing that all licenses, letters of credit and paperwork are in order. It also prepares items such as export declarations, air waybills, bills of lading, letters of credit, and consular legalization. Further, it arranges necessary bank documentation, provides direct ocean line service and consolidations, and arranges rail transport or trucking to shipside.
At the port of discharge, ARI alerts correspondents to receive shipments, and it offers door-to-door or free domicile service. All throughout the shipping process, ARI gives customers hands-on service that provides peace of mind. It stays with their shipments every step of the way, until accepted by the consignee.
A significant part of the ARI operations is its consolidator and non-vessel operating common carrier service (NVOCC) called Sea Lion. With main locations in Elizabeth, N.J. and Jacksonville, Fla., and with additional offices and agents in all U.S. gateway ports, Sea Lion operates for both imports and exports and is fully capable of handling FCL (full container loads) and LCL (less than container loads) ocean freight for major corporations.
Sea Lion provides specialized care in freight accountability, export packing, documentation and stowage. A large part of the Sea Lion operation is dedicated to export consolidations to Bermuda. It represents most major Bermudian hotels, restaurants, food distributors, contractors and key import concerns. Clients include Staples, A.S. Cooper, The Market Place, Butterfield & Vallis, Gibbons, A.F. Smith, and White & Sons. But its offices and agent network can service shipping needs in the United States, Europe, South America and Asia.
In the area of domestic logistics, ARI takes charge of clients’ goods with personalized service that meets individualized needs. With their shipments tracked and monitored through every step of the journey, customers are assured that their goods reach the destination in perfect condition. ARI also protects requested C.O.D amounts, prepays freight charges where applicable, handles the space booking for shipments, arranges insurance upon request, and provides door-to-door services. It also obtains proof of delivery, arranges for pick-up or delivery to and from any U.S. city, and it handles overnight or second-day air shipment and deferred or express trucking.
ARI’s expertise includes packaging, stowage, materials handling, labeling, logistics management, and loss control. In addition, it is fully insured for all responsibilities undertaken in its freight-forwarding operations.
ARI also offers services for customers with unique and specific needs. For instance, it specializes in the time-sensitive and unique handling needs of communications, broadcast and high-tech industries, managing the extremely complex shipping logistics for electronics, computers, video and audio equipment companies. It responds to pick-ups and deliveries from shows, games, events, field shops and rental companies across the United States. The company also specializes in handling fragile and valuable materials such as antiques and fine art pieces, applying what it calls the “kid glove” treatment from origin to destination.
ARI also offers emergency expediting, providing expert coordination and handling of its customers’ emergency orders that need to be immediately delivered to their own customers. This service starts with a shipping assessment, as ARI determines the shipping method best suited to the expediting. During the delivery emergency, ARI works with its customers and their customers to clear the way and make the shipment processes as routine and uneventful as everyday shipping.
Serving Corporate America
To help customers understand the intricacies of global supply chains, ARI operates a school, called the World Academy, which is involved in training and educating American companies in running their international business concerns. “We developed this education facility because Corporate America is starting to realize that significant shortfalls exist in the training of education of their global supply chain personnel,” says Cook. “We’re filling that void.”
Whether it involves domestic or international shipping, ARI provides customers with optimal logistic services coupled with the most effective means of transportation. Clients are assured that all deliveries are accomplished expeditiously and intact. With ARI, customers’ goods are placed in good hands. Shipping complexities become one less thing they have to worry about, thanks to ARI.