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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 21 No. 38
Monday October 3, 2022

EMO Trans USA Celebrates 50 Big Ones

Jo Frigger
    The Garden City Hotel in Long Island, New York with its distinctive cupola originally designed by Stanford White atop the structure, has been a landmark hostelry in New York for over 125 years.
     Here was the ground zero center of the global aviation universe for a couple of days in 1927, situated at the exact spot from where a young air mail pilot and soldier of fortune named Charles Lindbergh spent his last moments sleeping fitfully upstairs, resting his head on a pillow for a few hours, while downstairs the press corps plugged in the rest of the world to the news that an attempt was about to take place for one man to fly across the Atlantic Ocean alone.
     Soon enough “The Lone Eagle”, as Lindy was dubbed, emerged from his slumbers and took the short ride over to Roosevelt Field in the early morning mist. The flight that changed the world took off in a tiny monoplane, heavy with fuel that caused it to barely skim over the tree tops at the end of the runway. From that point, the world held its breath and followed that flight.
     The next evening when Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget Field in France, the Garden City Hotel had hosted the first flier to cross the Atlantic. Today that Garden City Hotel no longer looks like it did in 1927: it was lost in a fire. In its place, The Garden City Hotel in 2022 is a big beautiful modern hostelry. It radiates opulence and success with few traces of its glorious past, aside from the one that has mattered for about 100 years.
     Surely this is the best place to celebrate reaching a milestone, with the greatest credentials tied to world aviation.
Eckart Moltmann     On October 1st, EMO Trans Global Logistics people celebrated the 50th Anniversary of service to the U.S. In this place so hallowed to aviation the spirit and the finely crafted traditionalist hand of EMO U.S. founder, the late Joachim “Jo” Frigger was fondly remembered by Mr. EMO himself, Eckart Moltmann, who today at 84 travelled to honor and celebrate 50 years of service in the U.S. of the company now branded EMO Trans Global Logistics.
     EMO, an endearment attached to Eckart’s name as a young man, ended up being used as an "easy to remember and pronounce" branding device for the company he created in Stuttgart in 1965 as a one-man shop.
     EMO on this past Saturday night fondly recalled his friendship with Jo and admitted that he never dreamed that eventually the company he began, “would end in 2022 as a global power.”
     But this night’s celebration belonged to the visionary and inspirational leader of EMO Trans, Jo Frigger, his loss keenly felt in an outpouring of affection by those who knew him well.
     Today there is no doubt where the heart of EMO Trans beats: the EMO Trans World Headquarters, the seat of the global enterprise, is just down the street from the Garden City Hotel. Jo Frigger, it can be said without hesitation, is the person that put it all together in the U.S., half a century ago.
Karin, Sven and Jenni Frigger     I believe Jo Frigger never spent a minute wondering what was the best thing to do. He knew he would win if he built a great team and emphasized quality without concessions. He never put himself out there for the credit either, he always knew the glory would come, so he avoided directing personal attention on himself.
     Jo did the smart thing of creating a true success that built strength upon strength with a team that today knows its ticket was punched to succeed, even without him.
     Witness EMO Trans Worldwide 2022 delivering a solid success now from Asia to Europe and the Americas, led by the Frigger family, including Chairwoman Karin Frigger, with key positions occupied by next generation Sven and Jenni Frigger and Jo’s hand-picked leader, Marco Rohrer, who serves as President and CEO.
     Marco has led the charge into building the EMO brand in China and oversees the program everywhere else. Today as a new era continues to unfold, safe to say, this company born on a wing and a prayer as compared to some others, continues to move unstoppably toward an even brighter future ahead.
     Here is an ultimate one-on-one interview created with Jo by our team during the years we had the pleasure of being with him.
Sven Frigger and Marco Rohrer     If this feels a bit like Jo, who died April 19, 2021, is still with us, it is probably because in very many ways he still is.
     “The vocational course to the airline industry is arrow-straight for the educationally dedicated and the community of popular enthusiasts. For others, even for those who have achieved high-level office — and in the present context, air cargo — it is a winding, accidental route.
     For Joachim Frigger, who has been more than a half-century in the world of air shipping, it was purely “coincidental”. The coincidence turned out to have a life of its own. It proved that, in Frigger’s specific case and ultimate record, that Disraeli’s observation that life has a value only when it has an objective, it was a perfect fit for EMO Trans’ chief executive.

EMO Celebrates 50

EMO Celebrates 50

     The present is time for celebration at EMO. A birthday cake is in order — a cake with 50 glowing candles to mark an ascent from a modest facility near Frankfurt’s Rhein Main Airport to an impressive base close to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
     The years in between have been a hardy adventure in the complexity of rampant competition, customer demands and targeted yields. But Frigger’s close personal attention to management and detail, deep concern about customer satisfaction on a global scale, and a spirited participant in industry affairs, have been a colorful if ardent, but carefully directed, substantial industry status.
     Over the decades, EMO has been built into a freight forwarding firm that offers a complete range of global shipping services, standard or individualized. They extend to warehousing, distribution, etc. The company’s market share is equally divided between air and ocean transport.
     Asked to comment on how he found cargo-handling conditions at the airport, Frigger’s instant response, spoken flatly and with obvious emphasis, was that “many airports need substantial improvements”. Without identifying airports under criticism, he underscored the vital importance of quick availability of freight arrivals. There have been instances where customs clearance procedures were not in full step with jet flight. He also took aim at procedure applicable to pickup-and-delivery motor vehicles. In regard to the latter, he remarked on his utter frustration watching long lines of trucks waiting to pick up their loads. Returning to a more conversational tone, EMO’s chief noted the disparity of cargo-handling standards at airports both here and abroad.
     The number of airports around the world that Frigger has come to know are virtually countless. Asked to estimate how many air miles he has logged in his career, he cheerfully stated: “Enough to be a lifetime member of many airline frequency flyer programs.” At any rate, asked which airports he considered the world’s best from a cargo-service standpoint, his choices were Frankfurt Airport and Singapore’s Changi Airport.
     A native of Opladen, Germany, Joachim Frigger’s high school education was broadened at a school of business, leading to an apprenticeship program in Cologne. He joined Haniel in that city in 1958. Four years later he began a decade-long association with Deugro, which brought him from Cologne and Düsseldorf IST-Hochschule to New York. It was here where Frigger took over the presidency of EMO Trans, an international freight forwarding operation with a market share divided 50-50 between air and ocean. Married to Karin, who also worked in the early New York EMO organization, and with a son and a daughter today serving in key EMO positions, the Frigger identity has been extended to a second generation: Jennifer is Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Sven is Vice President, Compliance. As the old saying goes, like father, like son (and daughter).
     With a long history of often bumpy relations between the airlines and forwarders in the back of his mind, Jo Frigger presented his interpretation of the current state of their relationship. Referring to Cargo Network Services, he said: “Under capable leadership, CNS provided a fairly open dialogue between airlines and freight forwarders. Now that CNS is totally dominated by IATA, the constructive exchange is basically gone. IATA obviously prefers this rather than expanding the CNS model to other countries. A lost opportunity for the entire industry.”

EMO Trans Employees

     Of course, change is in the air for all of the business of airborne shipping. To what extent has the nature of air freight forwarding undergone change?
     “Tremendous,” he declared, his voice rising. “Vast changes in terms of electronic tools. The system of e-freight is utilized to an important extent. Competition between forwarder and integrator is fierce. However, the integrator will never be able to provide the specialized service of an air freight forwarder. Apart from what I have said, there has been very little change in fundamental needs for customer service and relations.”
     Queried whether the availability of widebody cargo bellies reduced the need for all-cargo lift, his reply was a simple “No”.
     Customer complaints? Perish the thought of absolute serenity. Customers, Frigger reported, voice several levels of upset at the alleged result of lack of transparency in the airlines.
     A standard question in this series of interviews is whether price or service is the prime concern of the air shipper. Put to this question, Frigger said: “both” and preferred to leave it at that.
     EMO’s head again made short work of a question seeking his opinion of the current international air freight rate situation. “Complex and confusing,” he smiled.
     Confined to the freight forwarding sector of the air transportation business, does a position in management — sales, traffic, operations, etc. — does the employee’s responsibilities and often complex related activities convey the knowledge of a person deep in an authentic profession? Or is it simply “a better job.” At that level, Frigger said: “the task requires a professional, an individual loaded with expertise to handle the challenges. And with enthusiasm, I might add.”
     How far has the company gone to comply with cargo–security regulations? Jo Frigger swiftly conveyed an impression of high-priority imperative. Speaking in measured tone, he stated: “We have our own screening stations and work very closely with the TSA to secure all cargo we handle.” Cargo security, he added is an obligation “we embrace”, attuned to a conviction that air cargo business is a people business. Jo leans heavily on personal customer contact, underscoring reliance on “human ingenuity”, to cope with problems that seemingly endlessly arise in both cargo modes, distribution, warehousing and “all international transportation needs.”
     Ah! That Jo Frigger: “Open dialogue will improve mutual understanding and appreciation of each problem as unique. It applies to dealing with the airline, and it applies to dealing with the customer. It is what has worked for EMO Trans over the years”. By physical attitude, expressive gesture and word, EMO’s CEO asserted the centrality of customer satisfaction.
     “In line with the old but still worthy concept that cooperation is the basis of success, EMO has found that often the effort to meet customers’ special requirements will translate into a zone of creative muscle. It inevitably leads to greater efficiency in customer service—and satisfaction. As corporate mottoes go. EMO clings to one of its own: Success Is Performance.”
     That was indeed Jo Frigger in body and soul.
     Industry experience in post-deregulation years has produced a number of air freight forwarding executives who have claimed being pinched by the total absence of regulations.
     No, they are not opposed to deregulation, but they wish the Civil Aeronautics Board before it was dissolved in 1978 had left behind a regulation or two to keep the industry a bit more orderly. Did Frigger agree? “Not at all!” declared Jo, Jo being Jo.
      Readers familiar with this series of interviews are aware that the subject of an interview is usually asked to identify individuals who have exerted an impact on their career. In an uncommon response to the demand, Jo Frigger instantly said, “My parents.” Having succeeded in getting this tribute on the record, he named Gustav Grosskopf, his mentor during his years in Cologne and Duesseldorf. Then Frigger gave the question a little more consideration and added: “Many of my friends around the world.”
     Virtually every air cargo employee has at least one story to relate about an exciting or unusual event. Jo Frigger is no exception, but he chose to divide his four examples into operations and corporate-related markers: chasing lost air freight in Turkey (1964); supplying Red Cross aid to Palestinian refugees in Jordan (1968); EMO Trans’ opening in New York; and developing the firm into an authentic global organization.
     A request to share a suspicion of a possible lurking market or industry “danger” in the foreseeable future produced a tongue-in-cheek answer: “Only when planes stop flying.”
     On the topic of air cargo industry changes, Frigger was brought to full voice: “The basic responsibility in the industry for the freight forwarder is to move cargo from manufacturer to consumer by utilizing carriers, warehouses, and customs facilities.” What Changes?
     “In that regard, the responsibility of the freight forwarder has not changed much — not even the speed of the carriers. Airplanes and ships don’t move much faster than they did 40 years ago. What has changed is the speed of communication and customer demand for total transparency of the location of the cargo at each step of the logistics chain. What also has changed is the strong demand of customers for environmental sustainability. While this has been mastered by some of the service providers involved, there is still a lot of room for improvement.”
     Take A Bow. With EMO Trans USA at age 50, Jo Frigger always gave credit to “the loyalty and hard work of our employees.” For the existence of a global organization, “Jo Being Jo” Is most fondly remembered continuing on to say: “I’ve found that looking back however is less beneficial planning forward.”
     That was Jo, brothers and sisters . . .

Jo Frigger Speaks in 2008

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