Since 1996, Port Air Logistics has avidly provided their clients with a “unique and knowledgeable service.” Directors Mick Parsons and Bruce Yates have made it their mission to maintain the company’s solid track record, encouraging business growth through the extensive knowledge base of their staff. “We were able to, and still do, provide a consistent service supply to our clients,” says Parsons. “Our customers highly value our personalised service, and we remain hands-on. We also keep a watchful eye on industry trends and how they affect our clients and ourselves.”
In choosing Port Air Logistics, clients have unlimited access to the company’s one-stop service shop, whose eight staff hold a collective of over 240 years of experience within the industry; this expertise has allowed them to forge partnerships with a variety of reputable companies across the globe, and stay privy to all updated rules and regulations for international trade. “We provide the following services on a regular basis: import customs clearance; international freight forwarding – both air and sea, and import and export; and local road transport for both air and sea,” says Parsons. “We specialise in over-dimensional transport and project cargoes. We provide order management systems, we’re defence logistics specialists, and we provide a 24/7 operation.”
One of the company’s most significant prospects was the provision of Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles (PVM-Ms) to the Royal Netherlands Army during their service in Afghanistan. Port Air Logistics was responsible for the careful preparation and packing of the vehicles onto a Boeing 747 commercial aircraft and arranging their transport from Regional Victoria Airport to Melbourne Airport, then to Kandahar International Airport. According to Parsons, this freight optimisation process saved its involved parties an excess of 50 percent. “We arranged and prepared all relevant export permits, and we had Australian Department of Defence approval prior to the cargo uplift.
When we scheduled uplift ex-Australia with connecting flights to the Middle East, and suitable aircraft on carriage to Kandahar airbase, it was a seamless transition all the way through because all aircraft connected. Senior Port Air staff personally and physically accompanied cargoes to ensure no delays were encountered in transit. We provided the quickest transit time possible to ensure cargoes were available for Dutch defence forces. We had accredited notation from the Department of Defence for those movements, and we also arranged time-critical movement of spare parts for these vehicles for breakdowns.”
Another key initiative for Port Air Logistics has been their role in the establishment and maintenance of the Global Alliance Integrated Network (GAIN) Group – an organisation designed to connect leading industry partners worldwide. Parsons founded GAIN Group in 2004, and actively conducts annual meetings with its members. As the Australian agent for the organisation’s “one-member, one-country” network, Port Air Logistics was also the inaugural winner of Agent of the Year among GAIN Group’s respected global representatives.
“Our relationships with all stakeholders are vital,” he says. “Our key suppliers are treated like clients; we work hand-in-glove with them to ensure the provision of first-class service to our mutual clients. Being a founding member of the GAIN Group and meeting annually with all members, we ensure we develop and maintain excellent working relationships. While mobile communications these days are excellent, there’s still nothing better than sitting down with members from all over the world in one-on-one meetings. Cultural and communication barriers soon disappear, and this can only be good for us and our clients.
If country members fail to comply or maintain the high service levels expected of them, we are able to remove them from the group and introduce new country members that have been suitably vetted beforehand. We work in a competitive environment that demands high service levels for every shipment. Our community engagement is spread over a number of areas; our prime charity that we are involved in is an organisation called Bahay Tuluyan – this is an organisation that works with street kids in Manila. We have been involved with Bahay Tuluyan for many years, and assist with any shipments of goods from Australia to the Philippines, as well as fundraising.”
Currently, Parsons believes that the changing of customs rules and regulations, along with the government interpretation of Tariff concession orders, are major areas of concern within the industry. “If imported goods conform to an exact description of a tariff concession, then import duty is generally reduced from 5 percent to zero,” he says. “We have observed both customs and the AAT taking a different view of what has occurred in the past – suffice to say as licensed customs brokers, we are well placed to advise and assist our clients with these changes. The recent implementation of free-trade agreements at ground level also requires significant resources from Port Air Logistics to ensure clients are protected. While bureaucrats negotiate FTAs with foreign countries at ministerial level, ultimately, it’s the customs brokers who ensure that the FTA is legally applicable for their client. Interpreting and deciphering this regularity framework, which is in a constant dynamic state, provides us with never-ending issues and challenges to be addressed on behalf of our clients.”
Parsons’ career in the industry began in 1976 when he was employed as a bills clerk for Schenker & Co; his role was to pay the applicable dues to shipping lines and harbour authorities for any incoming product. “It was a fantastic job, as I was out and about all day visiting different offices and locations,” he says. “Generally, I would drive to the wharf to inspect damaged cargo or complete customs examinations. I learned to drive in a company vehicle. These days, that position no longer exists, because everything is done electronically; therefore, for people that are new to the industry and want to be trained up, it’s a lot harder to gain the knowledge that we gained 40 years ago. Having said that, I’m aware that times do change and new systems have to be implemented.”
Throughout his first eight years in the industry, Parsons pursued training as a customs agent, which he sought through a number of different companies. In 1983, he became qualified, and secured a twelve-year job as a customs broker and freight forwarder following a backpacking trip through Europe and the United States. “Travel has been a big part of my life, both personally and professionally,” he says. “During our early years of Port Air Logistics, I took the opportunity to travel with my wife and three children in remote Australia for three months to expose them to other cultures in their own country.”
More recently, Parsons and his highly-experienced team were appointed as the customs broker and export freight forwarder for an entire fleet of locomotive engines. In coordination with Co-operative Bulk Handling, Port Air Logistics supervised the import of these engines from the state of Georgia to Fremantle, Western Australia. “The scope of work included visitation by Port Air to the load port in Savannah in the USA, and overseeing movement right through to Fremantle Port, ready for delivering and commissioning,” says Parsons. “The total project value was about $60 million AUD. We were also involved in the freight forwarding and importation of the biggest saw mill in the southern hemisphere at Tumbarumba – goods consisted of 120 x 40 flat racks and came from the USA, Canada, France and Finland. We delivered on time and on budget.”