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   Vol. 17 No. 27
Friday May 4, 2018

The Man Who Invented CNS Partnership

Tony Calabrese     People have called CNS Partnership a lot of things over its first quarter century, but the gathering has never been slow or late in providing a first-class venue for conducting business.
     Credit the individual who dreamed up the Partnership Conference in the first place—former CNS President Tony Calabrese (1986/2006)—for ensuring there was plenty of time (and space) for cargo executives to feel they had discovered the perfect spot to cut a deal all by themselves.
     “When I started at CNS, the airlines and the forwarders, even the airlines and airlines, barely spoke to each other,” Tony recalled.
     “What happened right from the very first Partnership Conference in 1986 is that everybody discovered, through understanding, that our supposed differences were more myth than fact.”

Guenter Rohrmann with Pat Phelan

Cotton Daly with Tony Calabrese

Tom Murphy, Tony Calabrese and Pierre Jeanniot

Isaac Nijankin

Jo Frigger

Mr. & Mrs. Joel Ditkowsky with Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Trimboli

     Tony Calabrese shepherded this North American gathering (which began in 1991) for 15 years until his retirement in 2006. He recalls those years as quite positive for air cargo as well as for himself.
     “I never went to work one day at CNS that I was not glad to be there.
     “I was part of the original board that put CNS together and into business.” For the record, CNS was born from IATA losing its anti-trust immunity, a consequence of the Competitive Marketing investigation and subsequent deregulation, which is the reason that the American-based organization had to keep an arm’s length relationship with IATA for many years.
     “For years we struggled for recognition and many people thought CNS was no more than the CASS settlement system.
     “To change that perception, we started CNS Focus as a four-page newsletter and sent it around to our members.
     “We also launched The CNS Partnership Conference. But I wanted our conference to be different. To us ‘Partnership’ was never about CNS, it was more about industry stakeholders’ objectives and needs. We never looked at the event as a big money-maker either, but rather our approach was to do what was good for air cargo.
     “The purpose was to bring airlines and forwarders together. From that simple premise we held our first conference in Tarpon Springs (near Tampa), Florida. We set up meeting tables of ten places each in the hall and assigned luck of the draw seating to everyone.
     “The idea right out of the gate was to keep people from congregating with co-workers or best friends. We wanted to stimulate the conversation, the floor discussion, even debate.”
     “I recall 97 people showed up for that first Partnership Conference and half again as many for our second gathering a year later in Dallas.”
      Characteristically, Tony is gives much of the credit for CNS to others.
     “Guenter Rohrmann was a very dynamic board member and Chairman of CNS.
     “During those years, the CNS Board—both airlines and forwarder members—really gave the organization purpose.”
     “It was the CNS members who carried the ball and helped make things work.” People like Cotton Daly (TWA), Buz Whalen (JAL), Pat Phelan (Aer Lingus), Ed Mortiz (British), Isaac Nijankin (Varig), Jerry Trimboli (SAS), Bill Boesch (AA), Dave Brooks (AA), Jim Friedel (NWA), and of course others, including brokers and forwarders like Joel Ditkowsky and Jo Frigger (EMO Trans).
     As CNS Partnership celebrates 28 gatherings next week, it’s good to remember the dedication and hard work from the man who transmuted good ideas into a great transportation organization—Tony Calabrese made CNS great by carrying the organization around on his shoulders from day one.

Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend •
Film Editor-Ralph Arend • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend • Advertising Sales-Judy Miller

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