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INDUSTRY FOCUSPROJECT FORWARDER NETWORKS


“Meeting as many people as possible face-to- face, approaching other members with sales leads, and assisting the network and membership marketing by furnishing articles about their operations for publication.” Maya Wagner, member relations manager


at PLA, added: “We cannot guarantee anybody to gain business from being listed on our website. We need active members that engage with each other. In the project industry, it is important to know people personally; you would not award a EUR4million (USD4.5 million) project to a company that you had never met.” PCN has introduced a gold, silver and


bronze scheme that, it said, provides a focused approach to supporting members in achieving the optimum benefits of belonging to the organisation.


Non-performance What do the networks do if a member does not perform? It is rarely an issue, argued PPG’s Stephens, although like most networks it does reserve the right not to renew annual membership. Networks have rules and agreements and


if they are broken there will be repercussions, said PFN’s Bouwhuis. In the case of compliance issues and/or fraud, it is very simple: the membership is revoked immediately, he said. For less serious issues, the network board


could decide whether or not to continue membership or take preventative measures. Karau added: “In the case of WWPC and


CEE, the company directors and selected individuals from the membership-voted board of advisors examine any possible dispute between members or any specific action by a member that could harm other members or the network brand. If any member has been found to have acted against the articles, the directors and board members vote on dismissal.” PCN takes quite a hard line with poorly


performing members, said Humphrey. “As well as an ISO 9001-approved complaints and disciplinary procedure, we also continually monitor the service that members provide via our quality control survey. Poor performance is not tolerated and any such companies are identified and replaced. Additionally, as we are a specialist organisation, it is important that only companies who are active in project logistics and heavy lift remain in PCN.” Since launching an annual evidence audit


four years ago, PCN has identified and replaced 29 companies. WCA’s Cutillo said: “We do ask members


112 January/February 2019 The Project Cargo Network (PCN) held its eighth annual summit at the Real InterContinental hotel in San José, Costa Rica.


to leave if they are not active in the group – not attending conferences for multiple years, not engaging with other members or lacking required skills due to personnel changes. As we regularly turn away new companies, we prefer to replace inactive members with more active ones.” Only occasionally does WCA expel


members for not upholding professional standards of operations, ethics, or payment practices, or those who cause excessive disputes. Cutillo claimed an exceptional record of mediating problems on the rare occasions when they do occur. Due diligence ahead of appointing new


members is key to maintaining a network’s quality. Aspiring PFN members are first subject to an online investigation. Next, members must complete a questionnaire on the company structure, shareholding,


financial status, performance and references. If there is still any doubt, the applicant is presented to a selected number of members for advice and comments. Only after agreeing to the code of ethics and conduct, as well as the PFN member agreement, do they become a member of PFN. On that theme, PPG’s Stephens pointed


out: “We prefer locally owned and operated members, rather than global forwarding companies. Most have been highly recommended by other members and this is important, as it proves long-term relationships and stability. We always say ‘the best partners are the ones you already have’.”


Detailed checks Pegg said that ABA asks for references from customers that he checks personally. He also favours companies that are “known by me or one of my good friends, are family owned, entrepreneurial, and in good standing with shippers and suppliers.” Backselling is not permitted at ABA. That


is, one member asking for a request for quotation from another but then going behind that member’s back to the consignor or consignee to obtain the routing, explained Pegg. Questions would also be asked if an ABA member failed to attend four meetings. There is universal agreement among the


We have had members who recovered their membership fees within weeks of joining and others who have had to wait a while.


– Kevin Stephens, PPG


executives interviewed by HLPFI in this report that joining a network is just the first piece of the puzzle; generating long-term value from the membership fee rests in the hands of the members themselves. Bouwhuis summarised: “Some


companies want to join for the simple reason of generating quick sales leads and work,” often switching from one network to another. “Personally I believe this is not the best strategy of generating long-lasting relationships and/or work.”


HLPFI www.heavyliftpfi.com


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