Events

Spotlight Series ft. Ed Fitzgerald of GEODIS

SPOTLIGHT SERIES: 

Ed Fitzgerald
Senior Director, Trade Services, GEODIS USA, Inc. 

Ed-Fitzgerald-Photo

CACC: How did you begin your career in the fresh fruit industry?

Ed Fitzgerald (E.F.): Within a week of starting at Barthco in June of ‘94, I was baptized in the customs broker business by being assigned to handle “fruit entries.” I was an account rep that filed the entry paperwork for customs and FDA clearances on the banana ships that arrived in port each week. The clock would start as soon as we received the ship manifests since the transit time was less than 5 days. Handling the tropical fruit entries prepared me for the upcoming Chilean Season during the winter and spring months. I never envisioned the sheer volume of Chilean fruit that discharges at the multiple terminals along the Delaware River each season. As a broker, our volume is seen as racks of manila file folders with corresponding import customs entry documents consisting of manifests, bills of lading, invoices, packing lists, and permits that are required for the clearance of the fruit.

CACC: Did you always envision yourself working in this field?

E.F.: No, not at first. During my senior year at La Salle University, I interned at US Customs and BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives).  Before graduation, I had been offered a contract position with US Customs. However, at the time there was a government hiring freeze on full-time employment. A friend of the family mentioned that Barthco dealt with US Customs and was hiring. I had never heard of a customs broker or freight forwarder nor did I know what they did. I was instantly hooked to the fast pace of the business which intertwined transportation, international business, government regulations, and compliance.I was very fortunate to have excellent mentors in George Sibley along with Dennis Colgan, Bill Stevenson, Jack Mallough, Dave Weiss, and Dennis Dougherty at Barthco. They taught me the customs broker business and the intricacies of our customer’s import businesses of fruit, steel, textiles, and forest products. With their support, I was also able to obtain my customs brokerage license.

CACC: How does GEODIS support Chilean trade?

E.F.: For over 40 years, Geodis (Barthco/OHL) has proudly been a longtime partner and service provider for our customers in the Chilean trade. Chilean imports of deciduous fruit have been the principal foundation in the fruit trade industry. The international perishable fruit business has grown to be a year-round business with a full suite of fresh fruit products from Chile and other perishable fruit commodities from around the world. Along with our customers and industry partners, GEODIS has championed and continued to do what is “best for the fruit“–whether that’s finding solutions for logistical challenges or working side by side with government agencies to expedite the flow of cargo. Geodis’ Chilean business vertical has expanded over the years in the United States, and now Geodis has several local offices in Chile which provide freight forwarding and customs brokerage for multiple import and export business sectors including wearing apparel, wine, lumber, paper, and metals.

CACC: What is your favorite part of working within the maritime trade industry and Geodis?

E.F.: There are many things that I love about my career in the maritime trade industry. This is a people and relationship business. The people I work with at Geodis, our customers, industry partners, and government officials are all special relationships that I have had for 25+ years and I hope to continue to have for 25 more years. Besides family and close friends, these relationships are essential as we work long, fast-paced, and at times stressful hours with our colleagues. A few years ago, I had a wonderful experience visiting Chile to meet some of our import customer’s growers and shippers that we have dealt with for countless seasons. I was able to see firsthand the farms and orchards, pack houses, and day-to-day operations  before loading on the Northbound vessels. It’s the people and the relationships developed over time that are important. Secondly, Geodis has provided me the support and opportunity to learn something new every day and to provide solutions to an always-changing business environment. This makes my career very rewarding. I have always said that if you watch the national evening news, there will be something directly affecting our industry in the Delaware Valley or globally—whether it is economical in the price of a barrel of oil; weather-related in tropical or winter storms; or government regulations involving free trade agreements or anti-terrorism and contraband enforcement measures. Every day brings a new experience and learning opportunity which in turn keeps our customers “in the know” as details matter.

CACC: What makes the CACC a special and valuable organization to you?

E.F.: The CACC is a special organization to me as a longtime member and present Board Member. The CACC is a proactive and working chamber that strives to strengthen the Chilean-American relationship between our two countries and the businesses affected on a local basis. The CACC is one of the few chambers in the country that provides our members with a combined multifaceted approach to business, cultural, and government relationships directly with our fellow Chileans.

CACC: What is your favorite Chilean Grape variety?

E.F.: That’s a tricky question! For table grapes, I like them all, but my favorite is  the Crimsons. For wine, Carménère. Both of which pair well with some well-aged cheese… Salud!

Many thanks to Ed for participating in this Spotlight Series!

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