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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 20 No. 15
Monday April 19, 2021
Brandon Fried Is A Treasure
Airforwarders Association
Brandon Fried

Of all the transportation executives at all the companies serving air cargo no one is more public or more involved in supporting the cause of U.S. air forwarders than Brandon Fried.
     Brandon is a one-person passion field that carries forward a point of view about what’s new and what things mean to air cargo people all across the nation.
     The thing that Brandon brings to the table every day is recognizing and making himself available to the hard-working, dedicated all-in people of air cargo especially where our business really counts, down in the trenches.
     During the non-COVID times, Brandon, when not conducting Airforwarders Association business, was the public face of forwarding found on trade show panels or out on the hustings making appearances, delivering keynote and meeting speeches at airport air cargo clubs all over the U.S. from New York to Los Angeles.
     Brandon has been situate atop the Airforwarders Association Since 2005. Prior to that he was Chief Operating Officer of Adcom Worldwide.
     He is a valuable resource who has been around long enough to be very much part of the fabric of everyday air cargo in the U.S.
     But as organized air cargo struggles to get back to face-to-face meetings and event planning, we observe that the main sponsors of these events, namely the airlines appear to be in full organized cargo marketing retreat, despite all the positive uplifting business and good news as to how much air cargo meant at a time when passengers deserted the airlines altogether.
     No doubt that The Airforwarders Association is the organization that often backs the little guy.
     We think AfA is the association for everybody else, quite unlike the other, more powerful, albeit faceless associations and trade show groups.
     Airforwarders Association punches way above its weight with determination and style and actually gets things done.
     Here are a couple of truths.
     Airforwarders Association is unique as the voice of the freight forwarding business in the U.S., the country with the biggest market economy.
     Airforwarders Association has the lobby action at work in Washington, D.C.
     Not much of that effort makes news but can be absolutely vital at times impacting all of air cargo because of the expertise and actions of Brandon Fried.
     Right now we can only hope that Brandon and Company catch a break in their efforts to energize both their base and that they are able to weather the current challenging climate of “no shows”.
     As I read the upfront, smart and even heartfelt answers to some questions we posed to Brandon recently, the words “you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it,” start to rattle round my brain.
     Air cargo benefits from Brandon and the Airforwarders Association.
     Both together are a constant force with voices that need and should continue to be heard at every level of air cargo.
     Consider right now as the second quarter of 2021 begins, that first spate of retirements as companies worked furiously a year ago to trim payroll. appears to be morphing into a second round of good people leaving the industry.
     As example, we just learned that brilliant and promising people like Jim Butler at AA have retired and others at other companies are moving out of our business altogether.
     In a reviewable time in our existence as an industry, when business and attention from the rest of the world to our abilities to get the job done are being accepted at an all-time high, it’s also high-time to get behind the better spirited forces of the industry like Brandon and the Airforwarders Association.
     Joining with others in our industry that have served and that we will need to help guide business growth in the future, should be TOPIC-A as the world comes back from COVID.

Brandon In His Own Write

FT:   What has changed as the result of the pandemic?
BF:   The past year has been a significant change for freight forwarders, their service partners and of course, customers. First, years of technology investment paid dividends as increased reliance on automation became essential. While many administrative office staffers worked from home relying on Zoom and other communication platforms, those in the terminals moving the cargo wore face masks, practiced social distancing and of course, sanitized warehouse machinery and frequently touched surfaces. Finally, the most significant change may be that the 9-5 workday could be a thing of the past since technology allows easily accessible access to work-related information and operational automation, 24 hours a day.
Air cargo faces a unique challenge in that much of its capacity is driven by passenger demand and if people stop flying, a huge portion (almost 50%) of cargo space disappears.

FT:   We see record backlogs and no airplanes left to lease from the boneyards.
Why do you suppose people in our business seem to be pulling in their horns and just bumping along?
BF:   While some freight transportation businesses continue to experience pandemic-related challenges such as lower cargo volume and capacity issues, many Airforwarders Association members are posting significant gains due to their involvement in e-commerce, essential medical and other high demand business verticals that continue to demonstrate importance during this crisis.

FT:   Why is that (if you agree) a mistake?
BF:   The only error many businesses make is that they stop trying. Forwarders know that to survive in this constantly changing business environment, they must be creative and stay competitive to meet new customer demands. This requires increasing knowledge and education which is why our organization presents an ongoing webinar program and online learning designed to foster education and new ideas for our members.

FT:   How has your membership handled difficult choices between family (children, wives, husbands) and work?
BF:   While many of our members continue to commute and work from their offices safely, some choose to work from home which may be convenient, but requires self-discipline including separation from children and other family members who share the same house. Working from home can be a juggling act balancing interruptions and other distractions but its convenience and no significant commute may provide more time for work projects and meetings. However, there is no substitute for the creative energy derived from in-person, face-to-face interaction and many look forward to going back to their actual offices for that very reason.

FT:   Name some names and give a couple of short shout outs and examples.
BF:   Several Airforwarders Association members continue to thrive during these challenging times. For example, one of our members is EliteExpo from Chicago. When faced with a downturn in the trade show industry, they immediately started offering work desk partitions and pandemic-safe exhibit solutions for their customers. Theirs is a shining example of forwarder creativity responding to rapid change.

FT:   What is AfA membership telling you about the AfA post pandemic?
BF:   Our members are generally optimistic, especially since the vaccine distribution is ongoing and companies begin to reopen. They realize that once consumer confidence grows, manufacturing and product demand increases and so will their forwarding businesses. We are already seeing an uptick in passenger travel which will ultimately bring back much more capacity for belly freight.

FT:   List reasons membership should be maintained and even be expanded as in our unique position in this time as a premier way to move goods on the national and international stage.
BF:   Despite the pandemic challenges over the last year, our organization continues to provide essential information and advocacy for its members. For example, our engagement with government regulatory agencies including TSA , CBP, The U.S. Department of Commerce and others never stopped because the wheels of government continue to roll, creating ongoing challenges that must be addressed on behalf of the companies we represent.

FT:   What are the major issues ahead in 2021 and beyond that can benefit AfA members? at work?
BF:   The AfA has several issues on its radar screen including:

  The upcoming June 2021 ICAO alleviation of Account Consignor and its impact on cargo flown on international freighter flights.
  The ongoing airport and maritime port congestion issue which continues to cost our members significant time and financial resources.
  The constant threat of cybersecurity and ransomware attacks on our industry and its members.
  Engagement with the new Presidential Administration with a focus on recognizing the essential role of international trade.
  Assisting the Biden Administration and Congress in devising a new infrastructure package that funds our roads, airports, and maritime ports to keep goods moving efficiently.
  Climate sustainability and how our industry can support efforts to address the issue.

FT:   How long will you continue? You have been Mr. Air Freight Forwarder, a natural guy for longer than anybody can remember and must have set some kind of record of service for your years.
BF:   Our organization has accomplished so much but there is also more work to be done. Helping freight forwarders and their supporting businesses is the passion that fuels my energy, and I am not quitting any time soon. This continues to be a great job and aside from a loss of hair on my head, I am physically ready for the challenges ahead.

FT:   What work is not done? What are you most proud and satisfied with for your years in service?
BF:   I would like to accomplish more membership growth and increase our value to members.

FT:   Who do you admire in public service in air cargo over your years?
BF:   I have been so impressed with the caliber and intelligence of so many of the public figures encountered throughout my career. Most especially, the dedication and passion of those protecting our country including the TSA, CBP and our military leaders continue to inspire me to work hard every day.

FT:   Who are your heroes?
BF:   Aside from my wife, Kim and children being the significant heroes in my life, there are the many AfA members and Board Directors whom I continue to serve. But Fred Smith of FedEx is one of my noteworthy heroes as he created an industry segment that thrives while he serves as a valued statesman today.

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
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