North Dakota’s manufacturers regularly report that the challenges and expense involved in shipping products throughout the world remains one of their biggest obstacles to expanding into new markets.
That’s why the North Dakota Trade Office, in conjunction with Dickinson State University, has developed The Shippers’ Reference. The document is a resource that shippers can use to assess the services of freight forwarders, steamship lines and brokers.
The guide is a valuable tool for both seasoned exporters and inexperienced shippers, says Trade Office Development Director Cherie Harms.
Under Harms’ direction, three Trade Office export assistants who are working towards business degrees at DSU surveyed about 50 qualified companies that provide shipping services to North Dakota business.
The shipping specialists identified their top ports of destination and the products they most commonly transport. They were also queried about services such as customs brokerage, export documentation, transportation methods and the handling of hazardous materials.
By examining and organizing the survey data the Trade Office was able to draft a document providing North Dakota companies with a quick reference of the organizations that can help ship their products to customers throughout the world.
The Shippers’ Reference is available to all Trade Office members. Trade Office staff will refer to the guide to help other North Dakota companies find the best-suited shipment services for their needs, Harms says.
“This reference clarifies where the specialty and experience lie for each of these organizations,” Harms says. “North Dakota businesses can consult this guide and get a much better idea of which organization is best suited to help them reach a particular market. Simply put, the guide can help exporters save both time and money in shipping their products. This can assist everyone from the seasoned exporter to the inexperienced shipper.”
When Paulson Premium Seed of Bowman considered selling value-added crops to waiting customers in Mexico, the company used The Shipper’s Reference to help find the most qualified and best-suited freight forwarders to ship their goods south of the border.
“The Trade Office helped point us in the right direction in the beginning stages of shipping to a new market,” says Guille Irons, Premium Seed’s logistics director.
With no previous reference guide, North Dakota companies were left to do their own research or blindly choose a company with very little information to go on.
Shippers have to consider many variables, including shipping destination and the goods shipped. According to Trade Office Executive Director, Susan Geib, it is seldom that one firm can provide the best services for a broad spectrum of shipping needs.
“A freight forwarder that does a good job shipping product to China might not be the best option to move goods to South America,” Geib says. “This guide helps weigh though those factors and others that shippers might not be aware of.”