you know what we like about Jim Bellinder, Vice President
Cargo Sales Americas for United Cargo?
Jim is an airline guy
who moves in an upbeat fashion that might suggest he
has a bit of Jet-A coursing through his system.
Buoyant Bellinder seems
to keep himself sunny side up.
Not such an easy thing
to do as business challenges and other cycles come into
play in 2016, but in the big game, when the time is
late and winning is on the line, you want Jim on your
Happened Last Year?
“Looking back over
2015, I’d say the most significant event was the
West Coast port strike and the boost it gave to United
Cargo—and the air cargo business in general—during
the first quarter.
trends and industry conditions were such that that momentum
couldn’t be sustained, as most of that business
returned to the sea, but that wasn’t really a
“The pleasant surprise
was that many of the customers we worked with during
the strike—the connections that began or deepened
during that period—stayed with us as the year
Clinch Not Cliché
“It sounds like
a cliché—it probably is a cliché—but
my top priority is customer service.
“The things I focus
on when I’m not actively engaged with customers
in person, on the phone, or via email all reinforce
“You build the best
team because you want to give the best support to a
“Products are enhanced
and an effort is made to keep current on industry trends
so you can provide the best solutions.
“Even personal traits
like being humble, honest, appreciative, and empathetic
are all based around what benefits our customers.”
“This April Fools’
Day, I will have been in the air cargo business 30 years.
(You and your readers are welcome to insert your own
the most important lesson I’ve learned in 30 years
is that through positive and negative business cycles,
and whether your company is riding high or going through
challenges, the key factor is the quality of the personal
relationships you’ve built.
“I have a few phrases
related to this principle which will probably be familiar
to anyone who’s heard me speak: people like to
do business with people they like and trust.
“Never take customers
for granted, and value every piece of business they
trust you with.
“Find out what problems
your customers need to solve, then create a solution.
Find a way to do business and be willing to do whatever
Only Constant Is Change
new challenge almost every day, but the consistent challenge
has been trying to manage and meet rising expectations
amid all the factors that affect your company’s
or your own personal level of success.
“It can be frustrating
because most of these influences are out of your control—but
most industries and businesses are in the same boat.
“I think anyone
who claims sole credit for an initiative needs to think
again. Worthwhile changes in any organization are always
a team effort.
“Sometimes I had
the idea, other times I was a facilitator or supporter
of the concept, and many times I was involved in the
“The specific idea
I would claim to champion is the customer service culture
I talked about earlier: an approach based on communication
and collaboration that I try to encourage in my team
United Forwarder Proposition
“The vast percentage
of United Cargo’s business is generated by the
airline/forwarder partnership, and although the industry
is always evolving, I don’t see that situation
changing in the future.
“In fact, our drive
is to strengthen our forwarder relationships by boosting
the level of cooperation and collaboration.
“While the integrators
are competitors in some facets of the business, they
are also our partners in areas where our capacity supports
the needs of their customers.”
New Routes A-Poppin'
“The United Cargo
team is eager to take advantage of the new routes that
will launch in 2016.
“Most of the new
services are focused around our San Francisco hub.
“On March 30, service
between SFO and Tel Aviv will begin; then on May 8 we’ll
begin nonstop service between SFO and Xi’an, China.
“This will be the
first trans-Pacific service to Xi’an operated
by any airline, and United will be the first U.S. airline
to serve the city.
“Then in June, United
will begin nonstop service between SFO and Singapore
using the new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
“This will become
the longest nonstop flight operated by any U.S. carrier.
“This is a route
we’ve wanted to fly that became feasible due to
the range and efficiency of the 787-9.
new routes from SFO this year is our service to Auckland,
New Zealand, beginning July 1, also serviced with the
in The Sun
“Our seasonal service
this summer is centered around routes between our east
coast Newark Liberty and Washington Dulles hubs and
a second daily widebody nonstop between Newark and Brussels
on May 5 and daily widebody nonstop service between
Newark and Athens, Greece, on May 25.
“On the same day,
we’re launching a daily widebody nonstop between
Washington Dulles and Barcelona,
Spain, and daily nonstop service between Dulles and
“For my North America
West region team, the most exciting development is the
return of a number of domestic U.S. widebodies this
up 777 service from both SFO and LAX to IAD, giving
us much more lift and faster connections from the U.S.
West to Europe and back.
flying Dreamliners from both SFO and LAX to IAH, which
gives us the same boost to and from the Latin America
Cool Control by TempControl
“Looking at construction
and product development, the highlight so far this year
has been the grand opening of our new TempControl Center
at our hub at Newark Liberty International Airport.
proud of this facility and its features and innovations
because they were the ones most requested by our TempControl
“We plan to use
the EWR facility as a model for similar TempControl
Centers in other United hubs.”
“As VP of Cargo
Sales for the Americas, I plan and direct all the Sales
activity in the Americas. I’m very fortunate to
work with four very talented and experienced Senior
Regional Sales Managers who lead the U.S. North, South,
West, and Latin teams, along with experts in Specialty
Sales and Courier Accounts.
team is aggressive, highly motivated, and knowledgeable,
so my role is to set priorities and provide guidance.
“I spend two or
three days during an average week traveling to meet
with customers, and of course when I’m not on
the road I’m connecting with customers via phone,
email, or other technologies.”
“If a genie granted
me three wishes (and I wanted to use one to change the
air cargo business), I would make it much more collaborative,
with each member of the supply chain aware of what the
others need to prosper, and cooperating to ensure we
fewer global procurement exercises and many more partnerships
built on trust and empathy.
“If I weren’t
in the air cargo business, I’d probably be doing
something that involved public speaking or presenting.
“I really enjoy
the challenge of getting up in front of a group of people
and trying to convey some positive message about the
best way to conduct business or build connections.
on my list of favorite situations is addressing a group
and knowing when the audience ‘gets it’
Feel For The New Normal
“I think the air
cargo industry is adjusting to a ‘new normal’
of lowered expectations where we can’t count on
a certain percentage of increased business.
economies around the world are flat or growing slowly,
and the emerging economies aren’t emerging as
rapidly as they were.
the one-two punch of capacity increases: not only lower
fuel costs resulting in long-idle freighters coming
out of mothballs to begin flying again, but the steady
rise in passenger demand serviced by new, more belly
cargo-friendly passenger aircraft.
“I expect the air
cargo business to be in a healthier place by the end
of 2016 than we are right now, though I have to admit
that I can’t point to any specific facts, figures,
or trends that support this outlook.
“I’m an optimist
by nature, so that might explain this prediction.”How
To Improve Air Cargo? S/H
“If you asked me
that question a few years ago, I would have said, ‘More
one-on-one meetings with customers.’
“But recently the
pendulum has swung the other direction, and some conferences
are like “speed dating” with one meeting
“This leaves less
time to circulate among the attendees, meet new people,
and bat around innovative products, services, and cutting-edge
“So the moral is
‘be careful what you wish for.’”