We will take a look behind the scenes in one of the most dynamic departments of Hudig & Veder: the agencies. What characterizes this department? How do we handle all of the aspects of being a port agent? What does it take to deliver the best service for our customers? And what will be the influence of future developments on this special role? Debbie van der Klaauw, Managing director of Fairway Shipping Agencies BV, shares her vision.
The ship's agents of the shipping industry: Once experienced, it is in your DNA
For over 17 years, she has been part of this interesting Hudig & Veder journey. “I started working at Hudig & Veder in 2003. One month later we started our agency department: Fairway Shipping Agencies. Ever since, we have been a reliable, independent port agent for our customers.” To describe precisely what our role is, has never been easy. “It is so widely oriented. Being a port agent means you represent the charterer, but also the owner of the ship. We are the eyes and ears of our customers in the port. Day in, day out and at unusual hours, we are ready to go on board to assist the Master and crew in respect of the cargo operations and all husbandry matters and to link all relevant stakeholders within the port to guarantee a smooth portstay. These activities require flexibility from the team, certainly the ones required on the vessels,” explains Debbie.
Flexibility is key
“This flexibility combined with passion for what we do, characterizes Hudig & Veder. We always go the extra mile for our customer. We operate as partners to solve our customer’s challenges together. What makes working at Hudig & Veder special, is that we are always willing to invest time, money and effort in the partnership we have with our customers. Our customers are part of the Hudig & Veder family. No matter how challenging a situation might be. We will combine forces in order to solve challenges together.”
“We take care of all aspects of the job. From replenishing fresh water and provisions to bicycles and bunkers. From doctors to medicines. Like a spider in a web, we are in contact with all relevant parties, such as port authorities, customs authorities, consignees, stevedores, shippers and subcontractors. Our main goal is to prevent any delays in the port. This job requires to be available 365 days a year, 24/7. It is not only about taking care of the administrative part, the paperwork, but also the social aspect of the job is crucial”, explains Debbie van der Klaauw. “If someone has a family matter while being on the other side of the world, we will find a way to bring him or her home. If someone gets sick on board, we will take this person to the hospital. This could also mean that we visit someone in the hospital, to show support by simply being there. The appreciation we get from our customers in these kinds of situations is enormous.”
"Our customers are part of the Hudig & Veder family"
“I never thought I would end up in the shipping industry. My father has worked in this industry for 55 years. I always told him that I was absolutely sure that it was not my type of job nor my type of business. Because let's be honest: in general, the shipping industry is still a male stronghold. But look at me now, after 26 years I am still part of this dynamic industry! During my studies, I started an internship abroad. In Greece, to be precisely. I worked at a shipping company and discovered that this world fitted me perfectly. It gave me energy and a lot of satisfaction at the end of the day. I like the diversity so much, that it is a small effort to start my working days at 4:30AM. Every day is different. I simply do not know what will happen in the next 30 minutes”.
What will the future hold?
To know what she will do in 30 minutes time is a challenge, but her vision for the company is perfectly clear. “How do I see the future? In the market, you hear the expectation that this job will disappear over the years due to IT developments and innovations. However, I have a different experience in the field and therefore a different expectation. We have grown over the years and although the type of service we provide might change, i.e. more administrative and digital, it will always require coordination. Certainly in these challenging times during Covid-19, we noticed even more the need for our presence. We remain to be the eyes and ears on the spot”.
“To be ahead of market developments, we manage decisions and ideas both top-down and bottom-up. Our team is always looking for improvements. It does not matter what your job title is, we are interested in your ideas. That is also part of our Hudig & Veder culture. Quick decisions and short lines of communication. It is of utmost importance to be open to ideas and to embrace changes such as digitization and increased transparency. It enables us to add even more value for our customers. And with our well-known ABC concept, we can offer our customers a full service.”