A matter of custom

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014

0414 spotlight geo s bushBY LINDA BAKER

A legacy brand. Geo. S. Bush is steeped in some pretty impressive history. One of the oldest freight-forwarders and customs brokers in the country, the Portland-based firm was founded in 1888 — and issued the 38th customs brokers license in the United States. “Our CHB license number is 38,” says president Brian Welsh. “There are a few companies out there that have a number that is less than 38, but not many.” In the 1970s, small, regional brokers such as Geo. S. Bush dotted the Portland landscape; only a handful exist today. Instead, large multinational corporations — FedEx, Expeditors International of Washington, Deutsche Post — dominate the freight-forwarding and logistics industry. “They are our biggest challenge,” Welsh says.

Old-fashioned values. To stay competitive, Geo. S. Bush focuses on customer service — not market share. “The goal is to accommodate our clients’ businesses as opposed to funneling our clients’ businesses into a predetermined process.” He cites an example: About 40% of the company’s business comes through the Port of Portland. “The product is unloaded in the container and put in a 53-foot trailer that goes back to the Midwest, potentially by rail,” Welsh says. It then goes to either a handful of stores or to another distribution center — and a customer might ask Geo. S. Bush to track the cost of each move along the way on a per-unit basis. “That’s something we can accommodate but that not a lot of brokers or forwarders are doing a lot of.” With a staff of 48, Welsh observes, Geo. S. Bush is small but nimble, handling an average of 300 import and export customers per year.

A regulatory age. Geo. S. Bush streamlines the process of shipping goods by clearing products through various government agencies: Customs and Border Protection, the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, among others. Ramped-up security has led to a corresponding increase in the documentation required by those agencies — and in growth opportunities for Geo. S. Bush. Programs such as the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, and Importer Security Filing “will continue to evolve and be part of our future,” Welsh says. He singled out the Importer Self-Assessment, in which the importer is allowed to self-police via internal audits — an electronic service offered by Geo. S. Bush. New regulations are also springing up around the importation of food products, Welsh says. “All these programs continue to evolve as international trade continues to increase.”

The more things change … Automation, free-trade agreements, industry consolidation — Geo. S. Bush is buffeted by economic change. But for Welsh, at least, the attractions of the business haven’t altered much since he came on board in 1997. “What I like about international trade is the constant dealings with different cultures and different countries, and understanding how culture plays into business,” he says. Despite the “constant threat” posed by multinationals, Geo. S. Bush is on solid footing, he adds. Declining to reveal revenues, Welsh says the company, which moved to new offices in the Lloyd District this past spring, has recovered losses incurred during the recession and is now on a “nice” growth curve. “There is a certain amount of loyalty in the marketplace that you don’t take for granted; you earn [it]. But when you have earned it, you get to bear the fruits.”

 

 

More Articles

The Carbon Calculus

February 2015
Friday, January 23, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Carbon pricing is gaining momentum in Oregon, sparking concern for energy-intensive businesses — but also opportunity to expand a homespun green economy.


Read more...

That's Not a Watch (This Is a Watch)

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smartwatches are all the rage. But old-fashioned timepieces keep on ticking.


Read more...

Corner Office: Marv LaPorte

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

The president of LaPorte & Associates lets us in on his day-to-day life.


Read more...

Transportation Fairness Alliance holds demonstration in Pioneer Square

The Latest
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
IMG 3367BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Portland's cab companies urged city hall for consideration as officials weigh new rules for Uber and other ridesharing companies.


Read more...

MBA Perspective

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Robin Anderson, dean of the Pamplin School of Business, University of Portland: "You need people who are comfortable leading in ambiguity."


Read more...

Editor's Letter: Tortoise and the Hare

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015

The day after this issue goes to press, the city of Medford will host its annual business conference. The event features Minoli Ratnatunga, co-author of the Milken Institute’s annual “Best-Performing Cities” report. Preliminary data suggests that Medford is likely to retain its No. 1 ranking among best-performing small cities for having a higher concentration of high-tech firms than the national average. 


Read more...

7 industry trends of 2015

The Latest
Friday, January 09, 2015
covertrends15-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Industry groups identify top trends for 2015.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS