The WCA Conference is a behemoth. Known as the largest and most powerful industry networking event of the year, the first time you walk in is an overwhelming callithump of people and excitement. Having the event in Singapore, one of the cleanest, safest and most beautiful cities in the world, only adds more heat to the fire of possibility burning among attendees. WCA offers a chance to meet with new and existing partners from around the world in one central place. What would normally be weeks of travel and expenses courting these opportunities one at a time, is here in a single place to hold meetings and network.
This year I attended WCA to discuss new partnerships to work with our new location in Doral, Florida to serve the greater Miami area and commodities from South America. As we work with cargo bound for Amazon warehouses, our new location will offer a large amount of cooler space to handle cut flowers, seafood and other temperature sensitive commodities. Because Miami is a hub for dangerous goods cargo, live animals and perishables, we find ourselves strategically placed to serve new partners who need a US representative. We expect to be open in the first half of 2019 in our space.
The chatter among attendees, even though it’s an international event, was still centered on the US President and trade deals that are being worked or renegotiated. “What Will Donald Trump Do?” is the question on everyone’s minds. Thankfully, for the bulk of attendees it appears that the market is stronger than any individual forces. The growth and development of more strategic international partnerships is the best way to manage the cycles of growth and recession in our industry.
The WCA Conference isn’t the only meeting that offers a way to nurture these relationships. I attended the Global Ocean Agency Lines (GOAL) conference in Las Vegas, NV with CJ Coral from our Chicago office and Louis DeMarco from our NY office. The GOAL conference allowed us to meet with our longtime partners to discuss shared business and talk regulations that impact our cargo. It’s a great time to share market insights from across the country and share the best practices we’ve established.
The GOAL conference is a much more intimate gathering than WCA. With a total of approximately 200 attendees from 70-80 companies, it’s a small group with a more micro view of the industry. The hottest topic we discussed was trucking congestion and solutions we can implement to avert delays. We spent time organizing ways to pool trucking resources as more cargo arrives at ports and needs to be distributed with fewer truckers available.
Professional networks and the events they offer are important tools in making connections in our industry. Having an organization that facilitates partnerships, payments, insurance, opens up trade lanes, and mediates disputes takes some of the risk out of new partnerships. They bring the value of confidence to opportunities.