“We are local and home grown but our focus has been national and global. We’ve pursued the more esoteric, challenging and highly regulated commodities: We’ve moved satellites to their launch sites, high-explosive charges to mining/drilling sites, prototype automobiles to secret sites for photo-shoots, among others.”
Today we had a long conversation with Robert Schott, the President of Airschott INC, a Coop member in Washington DC, USA. In this two-part interview Mr. Robert Schott, the President of Airschott INC, not only introduces his company, its strong points, its achievements but also narrates a very interesting story about an extremely challenging and complicated DG shipment they handled.
Q. Can you tell us a little about the history of AIRSCHOTT?
A. I founded the company in 1977 as a sole proprietorship, customs brokerage firm. In 1982, AIRSCHOTT, INC. and SEASCHOTT, INC. were incorporated, the former based in the Commonwealth of Virginia with offices and warehouse on Washington Dulles Int’l Airport (IAD) and the latter based in the State of Maryland, near Baltimore. The names identified the modal markets we served as both Customs Brokers and Air/Ocean Freight Forwarders.
Q. What distinguishes AIRSCHOTT from other freight forwarders in your city?
A. We are local and “home grown” but our focus has been national (and global) for many years. We’ve been forward thinking and innovative in all respects and we’ve pursued the more esoteric, challenging and highly regulated commodities where others shy away from difficult transactions. We set up two Foreign Trade Zones, ab initio, both on airports, one in Maryland the other in Virginia. We also developed and patented a mobile, temperature controlled fumigation chamber to process inbound air freighted fruits and vegetables. At IAD, we remain “on-airport”, adjacent to the flight line, in order to be able to efficiently handle airside transactions.
We set up two Foreign Trade Zones, ab initio, both on airports, one in Maryland the other in Virginia and we also developed and patented a mobile, temperature-controlled fumigation chamber to process inbound air freighted fruits and vegetables.
Q. What would be the most significant shipment your team has handled?
A. After 43 years, it’s difficult to identify a single shipment – there have been so many. We’ve moved satellites to their launch sites, high-explosive charges to mining/drilling sites, university laboratory samples for research, aircraft by ocean and air to/from testing sites, prototype automobiles to secret sites for photo-shoots, live animals, ship spares, AOG parts, frozen foods; disaster relief material…too many to list.
Q. Wow, that is very interesting, could you please let us know more about these memorable shipments?
A.The following derives solely from my memory as the paper and electronic records have long ago been shredded. As time passes, my memory sometimes seems shredded, as well, but this was a pretty memorable shipment.
The year was around 2008. The shipment of hundreds of shaped explosive charges originated in Australia and consisted of Class 1.1 products used in the mining industry to generate controlled underground blasts that provide a seismic profile of the earth below. It was headed to the mountains of Azerbaijan. It was a 20’ container that was, of course, being watched very carefully.
The task was to move the container to the US West Coast, then across the country by truck, park it in a safe harbour before lading aboard an ACL vessel in Halifax for transport to Liverpool where the container would be stripped and a charter aircraft would carry the contents to Baku. At GYD, the consignee would collect their cargo and move it to the mining region in the mountains.
MAERSK brought the box to Oakland. In preparation, well in advance, we contacted the U.S. Customs supervisory officer in charge and provided all appropriate information for collection by a qualified trucker and movement “in bond” across the USA into Canada.
On the day of the vessel’s arrival in port, our driver was waiting at the quay to collect the container. Of course, the U.S. Customs Supervisor with whom we had prepared all in advance was not on duty that day. The replacement officer had no advance information and questioned the adequacy of the trucker’s bond – which we had previously cleared as adequate. While in the process of trying to educate the substitute Customs officer, I received a phone call from the Captain of the Port of Oakland, saying that if I didn’t remove that container from the quay within 1 hour he was going to shut down the Port and my company would pay for all the expenses that would entail. I immediately called the Customs Port Director and explained all to him. Within about 15 minutes, the container was released to the bonded trucker and the driver left the port with the container.
Liverpool required a $20million bond in order to discharge the container there, which was arranged with our colleagues/agents in England. Over-flight permits across all the nations between England and Azerbaijan were challenging but the air charter operator managed that in due time. The cargo was delivered, we were paid. All good.
Keep an eye on our News section next Friday to read the second part of this very interesting interview!