NCBFAA Presidential Perspectives


Darrell Sekin, Jr..
(2012-14)

What were the NCBFAA’s key issues during your presidency?
Some of the key issues that we faced during my term as President of NCBFAA were;
The key issue was ACE and everything around it.
• The attempt by the Federal Maritime Commission to make significant changes to the bonding and continued licensing of FMC freight forwarders through and Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). These changes would have been detrimental and expensive for our industry. We were able through to successfully get this ill-advised rule making over turned through our grass route efforts and working through legislative channels.
• Another key issue that we were able to finally see accomplished was that of record keeping. This was an issue that we had been attempting to get resolved with CBP for 10 years.
• We successfully engaged the membership in dialogue concerning PERMITS and moved the discussion from one of small versus large brokers and geographic limits to one of the need for compliance and oversight. • We developed and worked with CBP to put into ACE the Broker Known Importer Program (BKIP).
• We continued to see the successful development and growth of the NEI under the watchful hands of Ken Bargteil and Kiko Zuniga.
• We finally saw the first sitting Commissioner (not Acting Commissioner) of CBP installed in more than 3 years.

What singular event, if any, marked your tenure as President?
The singular issue that likely marked my tenure as President of NCBFAA is ACE. The reason for this was that ACE was such a large undertaking and affected everyone with import or export transactions. For Customs Brokers the pending mandatory implantation of ACE was huge. We worked extremely hard at every event we attended to try and stress to the membership the importance of migrating to the ACE platform prior to the November 2015 full implementation date. We met regularly with CBP and worked to keep them focused on the functionality needed in the system. We likewise helped CBP to put on ACE vendor seminars to make sure software providers were moving ahead with necessary programing. There was a tremendous amount of time and resources expended to make sure that our industry was ready for the transition date. We remain concerned still today of whether or not all brokers will be ready and even whether or not the government will themselves be fully ready.
How has the NCBFAA changed since your administration?
I believe that the NCBFAA has changed, not just since my administration, but over the last few years to be much more involved in the professional education of the industry. Heretofore, individuals obtained their license and that was it. Individuals came into the industry and were trained at a desk level and that was the extent of much of the training. We now have a robust industry educational system in place that I believe has raised the level of everyone in the industry.
How has the industry changed, if it has, since your term?
The industry is still changing as now dictated by ACE. We now have CEEs at CBP and we are all pretty much adapting to them. The one thing that keeps the industry interesting is that it is really changing all of the time, which in my opinion gives businesses of all sizes the ability to find new opportunities.

 



Jeffrey Coppersmith
(2010-2012)

Perpective to follow.



Mary Jo Muoio
(2006-2010)

Perpective to follow.



Federico C. Zuniga.
(2002-2006)

Perpective to follow.



Peter Powell, Sr.
(1998-02)

What were the NCBFAA’s key issues during your presidency?
For me I would say the key issues were our Education Institute initiatives, which included the new technical assessment program that is nearly completed. Our focus on membership retention and growth was also key. And as always, legislation that affected the industry and that included ACE funding, which we struggled long and hard for.
What singular event, if any, marked your tenure as President?
Although it occurred late in my second term, the events of 9/11 will be guiding much of our agenda in the years ahead especially in light of the intense new focus on commercial security and the role we, as transportation logistics specialists, will have to play in effecting these new measures.
How has the NCBFAA changed since your administration?
I have to admit it is a little early to discern any change as the new officers and directors are just now settling into their roles but if history is any guide, I am certain that the changes that come will benefit our Association.
How has the industry changed, if it has, since your term?
I think we will see significant changes in the way we do business not simply because our industry will change but also because the entire landscape of our country will. While I can’t know all the specifics of the changes under consideration, I am convinced we will be facing additional requirements for conducting our business as well as a myriad of security legislation proposals, a number of which will certainly become law.
Have you any suggestions for the current administration?
It is really important to communicate with and involve the local associations in the deliberations and activities of the NCBFAA. They have their pulse on the day-to-day concerns of the membership and what they bring to the table has real value in addressing problems and challenges. That is why I am so supportive of the NCBFAA’s Affiliated Presidents Network initiative to tap into this vast reservoir of expertise that resides with our nearly 30 Affiliated Association members.



Michael Dugan 
(1994-98)

What singular event, if any, marked your tenure as President?
I don't think we had any one single event that occurred during my tenure. Several of the most memorable were resolution of the Mod Act, which is still impacting; the NCBFAA’s celebration of its 100th year; our first conference in Texas; the relocation of NCBFAA headquarters to Washington; and, regretfully, the retirement of our long time Executive Director John Hammond.
How has the NCBFAA changed since your administration?
I'm not sure how to measure the change of our association over the last four years, but consolidations have robbed us of many talented individuals. We owe a great deal to the few who have given countless hours to help all members, but in the future, I believe we must reach out much better than we have in the past to attract new blood. Our future is youth, new ideas and enthusiasm.
Have you any suggestions for the current administration?
Just my hope that we recognize this great opportunity and will recruit the quality individuals in our industry who could take over the reins of the NCBFAA in the years to come.
How has the industry changed, if it has, since your term?
The industry changed during my tenure, and continues to change every day. Electronic commerce, consolidation of firms, efforts of importers and exporters to select a single source for documentation and the continuing move of shippers to control freight from manufacturer to consignee quickly come to mind.



Paul F. Wegener (1988-90)

What were the NCBFAA’s key issues during your presidency?
I guess what I would say the key issue was when I sat down at Headquarters with (then U.S. Customs Commissioner) von Raab and showed him that we were doing better than 80 percent of all entries through ABI. He looked me squarely in the eye and said he would not have believed this years ago. I am very pleased with the efforts of the NCBFAA and its members. I tried before he left in October of 1989 to have him put that in writing, but never succeeded.
How has the industry changed, if it has, since your term?
Paul F. Wegener: 
During my tenure I knew everyone at Headquarters and everyone at Headquarters knew how Customs operated, down to the Commodity Specialist at the port to the Inspector at a small airport in Jackson, Mississippi, or Shreveport, Louisiana. Today, in my opinion, Customs' Headquarters has become very decentralized with approximately 300 Port Directors in the United States, which makes it very difficult sometimes to ensure uniform rule enforcement.
Have you any suggestions for the current administration?
Paul F. Wegener: 
I think the thing that I would tell the current administration - Kiko and other Board members - is to be adamant in our involvement with ACE. I had the opportunity to attend the Retreat - heard Customs presentations as well as some of the independent companies that have signed Contracts and am concerned that the investment we as players are being asked to make in this system not be jeopardized. Let there be no doubt, there is a chance that this may not get done in four (4) years. One reason for the accelerated timetable is to maximize funding and get it sooner. I think it will take longer and more expensive than current estimates. We have to go forward but I think those of us who have been in the business many years must continue to advise Customs on exactly what to look for and monitor to protect the revenue and borders of America in the future.
What singular event, if any, marked your tenure as President?
Paul F. Wegener: 
The most singular event in my tenure as President was my appointment by President Bush (the first) to the Advisory Commission on Conferences in Ocean Shipping and my participation for almost two years in the process of reviewing the Shipping Act. The travels and the hearings occupied a lot of time, but gave me a real insight into the workings of the government and Capitol Hill.
How has the NCBFAA changed since your administration?
Paul F. Wegener: 
With regard to the NCBFAA, I see only progress. We have gotten smarter --we have gotten more political. The leaders we keep choosing are very involved in the day-to-day operation of the business and they really understand and can help Customs develop a more efficient, but Broker dependent system of handling imports.



Arthur J. Fritz, Jr. (1986-88)

What were the NCBFAA’s key issues during your presidency?
During my presidency of NCBFAA the times were not without controversy for customs brokers and freight forwarders as we fought for retaining our position in the marketplace. Whether this involved issues with courier, large importers or ocean carriers, it was clear that we needed to be both vigilant and aggressive. Indeed most notable was a provision added to a trade bill that guaranteed an ocean forwarder his brokerage from the carrier – if the forwarder was also a customhouse broker. Added in secret during a flurry of last minute debate, jurisdictional reasons required this nuance. While it covered 90 percent of all forwarders, the remaining 10 percent were very upset and vocal too. We then launched a campaign for legislation sponsored by Rep. Helen Bentley – which ultimately was enacted into law – that provided the same right to brokerage for all forwarders. 
How has the NCBFAA changed since your administration?
Arthur J. Fritz, Jr.: 
I don’t think the industry or its members should forget their earlier days – when brokers and forwarders had to scrape for business or concern themselves with survival. The ability of the industry to adapt to a changing marketplace, to find new ways to make money and engage in tough competition remains today a vital element of its success. This isn’t a harkening to the good old days; it’s remembering that tough days lie ahead of us as well as in the past. The industry needs to put everything into its ability to compete.
How has the industry changed, if it has, since your term?
Arthur J. Fritz, Jr.: 
The Association has matured and grown in stature. NCBFAA is now viewed as one of the two or three primary organizations determining Customs policy. It is no longer viewed as a niche industry bent on protecting its turf, but seems to project a larger vision for the future of the trading community.
What singular event, if any, marked your tenure as President?
Arthur J. Fritz, Jr.:
 We had major concerns with couriers and importers taking business away from brokers. While NCBFAA members continue to fight for business in an era of great consolidation, I see that relationships have improved dramatically with these old competitors and that we have adjusted well to the new dynamic. UPS and Federal Express are now part of the industry, investing heavily in customs broker services. And, importers continue to aspire to "customs business" to exercise reasonable care in the management of their customs activities; however, they clearly do not want to file entries and rely more than ever on their customs brokers, as their operations get more and more complicated.



William St. John, Jr.
(1982-86)

What were the NCBFAA’s key issues during your presidency?
Reaching an agreement and plan with U.S. Customs to jointly move forward to develop ABI was important and I still remember the road shows we put on to encourage broker participation, which picked up greatly due to competitive pressures and to the fact that the program significantly improved release times, especially in the seaports. Also, developing the forwarder provisions in the Shipping Act of 1984, and assisting in its passage. Originally, the designed act did not include regulating forwarders. NCBFAA developed that part of the legislation and had it included in the final act.
How has the industry changed, if it has, since your term?
William St. John, Jr.: 
As with many other industries, ours is gravitating towards very large multinational firms. These firms are intent in dominating the fields of customs brokerage and freight forwarding, as an adjunct to their control of transportation.
Have you any suggestions for the current administration?
William St. John, Jr.:
 I would remind the Association not to lose sight of what brought you success, i.e., that a large percentage of your membership is represented by small to medium size family organizations.
How has the NCBFAA changed since your administration?
William St. John, Jr.:
 NCBFAA has changed from a focused organization to one that has broadened its coverage, representing many aspects of international transportation. This broadened appeal has, at times, required compromises that de-emphasized the value of its members core businesses but for the most part I see it as a positive development.
What singular event, if any, marked your tenure as President?
William St. John, Jr.:
 The design and successful passage of the Broker Bill of 1984 to amend 1641, the first significant change in the law governing the licensing of CHB, I believe since 1914.



Bud Hummel 
(1974-79)

What were the NCBFAA’s key issues during your presidency?
Cash flow issues were a major concern and we tried to educate clients to the importance of paying for services promptly, especially the really large accounts. A lot of members were carrying large receivables that affected their day-to-day operations so we felt it necessary to focus on these.
What singular event, if any, marked your tenure as President?
While there were a lot of little issues involving a few members at a time, there was one that actually continues to this day – computerization. As I recall, automation was making significant headway and the Customs Service was just starting to initiate the computerization of its operations. We had the option of doing everything in "long-hand" or getting with the program. During my tenure, Customs and the industry worked well together to bring off this automation. As the industry got use to it, we all wondered how we got by without it.



Leonard M. Shayne
(1969-74)

What were the NCBFAA’s key issues during your presidency?
One of the thoughts I have involves my feelings of pride that our Association made great strides towards becoming a democratic organization during my time. From an organization that claimed to be national but in fact had never had a Board or a President that was elected by the members, it became one whose leadership was truly nationally elected and representative of that national electorate. We set upon the path that elected Bill St. John from New Orleans as our first non New Yorker president, and I believe that there is on the near horizon, at long last, the probability that we will have a woman president. Now, if only there were more rainbow faces in our industry, our membership and our leadership, I would feel that my little part had achieved some measure of success.

 

 

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