Interview with an Expert
Peter Hsieh, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for OEC Group’s Northeast Region, discusses the market’s desire to diversify sourcing and supply lines as well as the importance of relationships for forwarders when providing high-quality reliable services for shippers around the world—not just a specific trade lane.
How has OEC Group adjusted to the current market strategy of clients using many different regions to source their products?
Our global network of agents and offices has allowed us to do what we’ve always done—follow the needs of our clients. It’s nothing we haven’t done before. I remember visiting Vietnam in the late 1990s and again recently. In that time, Vietnam had developed into a formidable manufacturing force, and some of our clients shifted production efforts or primary supply to Vietnam. We adjusted to their needs then just as we are doing now. As a result, our strategies have helped clients diversify and spread their manufacturing operations across different locations around the globe—just like Nike, Uniqlo, and Apple have recently done.
Is OEC Group’s established global network robust enough to accommodate growth trends in a more diversified group of popular trade lanes?
Yes. Because OEC Group has that infrastructure in place and has remained private, we are in an extremely advantageous position. As those familiar with the industry already know, mergers and acquisitions have become extremely common over the last several years. Many carriers are reinvesting pandemic-era profits in new ships, trucking organizations, air carrier partnerships, and even NVOCCs. That consolidation leaves certain countries without clear market leaders. The continued consolidation of global forwarders is leaving behind many agents in smaller markets. They no longer have representation in the global market. OEC has been able to step in representing national coverage in the United States and giving them a partner that is well-established globally, embedded in the US market, and capable of handling shipments of any size. Additionally, as a private and more family-oriented organization, OEC Group can relate well and work effectively with smaller agents in countries that are still developing their production power.
How do strong relationships with international carriers translate across different trade lanes?
Our network has to work hand-in-hand with established carrier partners to provide high-quality space in both old and new markets. For example, developing relationships with manufacturers in the Mediterranean region means we need to develop access to services that reach those locations and others around the globe. We use our decades-long standing with the largest global carriers to get the space we need on established and emerging lanes—allowing us to become an essential fixture in trade lanes on every continent. To put it simply, our well-established relationships allow us to help shippers get the access they need.
Outside of trans-Pacific trade, on which lanes have you seen the most growth?
We’ve seen some significant manufacturing shifts to the Mediterranean, North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central and South America. As a result, lanes from these regions to America have experienced major growth over the past year.
What advice would you give to shippers looking to send freight along some of these lanes that are still emerging?
What I’d tell those shippers is that it’s your supply chain strategy. We work for you to deliver local service on a global scale with an international vision. If manufacturing in these locations doesn’t gel with your overall plan, we aren’t going to suggest or otherwise try to influence any kind of supply side shift. But, if you do decide to change your sourcing or production strategies, we strongly suggest that you partner with a logistics expert that knows and has strong relationships in these locations where trade lanes are still emerging.