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

House of Clarity

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Holding a Power Lunch at Veritable Quandary in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Reader Input: Road Work

March 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oregon's roads are crumbling, and revenues from state and local gas taxes are not sufficient to pay for improvements. We asked readers if the private sector should help fund transportation maintenance and repairs. Research partner CFM Strategic Communications conducted the poll of 366 readers in February.


Read more...

Child care challenge

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
0927OHSUhealthystarts-thumbBY KIM MOORE AND LINDA BAKER

Child care in Oregon is expensive and hard to find. We delved into the numbers and talked to a few executives and managers about day care costs, accessibility and work-life balance.


Read more...

Fueling Up for the Climb

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY GREGG MORRIS

Rita Hansen aims to scale natural gas vehicle innovation.


Read more...

Downtime with Debra Ringold

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Dean of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University


Read more...

Greenpeace (temporarily) prevents Shell oil ship from leaving Portland

The Latest
Thursday, July 30, 2015
hangersBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Greenpeace activists suspended themselves from the St. John's Bridge in an attempt to prevent a ship from heading to the Arctic.


Read more...

Storyteller in Chief: Power Player

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY LINDA WESTON

In 1996, after a 17-year career in the destination marketing industry, where I gained national standing as the CEO of the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County, I was recruited by the founders of a new professional basketball league for women. The American Basketball League (ABL) hoped to leverage the success of the 1996 USA women’s national team at the Atlanta Olympics — much like USA Soccer is now leveraging the U.S. Women’s National Team’s victory in the World Cup. The ABL wanted a team in Portland, and they wanted me to be its general manager.


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