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‘In bad times we do not lay people off’ – Expeditors stand by Shannon workforce

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*Photograph: Joe Buckley

With a motto of looking after staff during difficult times, not alone have Expeditors maintained their existing workforce but have added to it over recent months. 

Headquartered in Seattle, Expeditors’ Shannon base in the Smithstown Business Park have stuck to the company’s philosophy of standing by its employees when the pressure begins to mount. Such a move was fortunate as District Manager, Michael Guilfoyle explained the pandemic has led to an increased workload. 
 
“We’ve had no lay-offs which is one of the company’s mottos that in bad times we do not lay off people and we did not do that. As the way it turned out, we could not afford to have anyone off, lots of things have changed in terms of moving PPE in from Asia for various different customers and we were also involved with a lot of COVID projects from pharma-healthcare companies going out to various places. We have had one of the busiest six to nine months ever in the Shannon office”. 
 
Facilitating remote working for office staff proved to be an initial challenge, the Feakle native admitted but he flagged that the tools and systems utilised by the company have resulted in this becoming a success. 
 
At present, Expeditors have 53 people employed in Shannon. He outlined that some staff are keen to return to the office while their warehouse personnel have experienced little change to their daily duties except following strict COVID-19 guidelines.  “Our warehouse staff have been working all through the pandemic and they’ve done an absolutely super job for us with increased volumes. The worry was always there for them in case any of them got sick, they had to take extra precautions to make sure they were working in a safe & healthy environment”.
 
One eye has been kept on monitoring the virus but the other has been keenly focused on preparing for Brexit. Indeed, four individuals have been hired specifically for Brexit. “The hiring was always going to happen for Brexit but we’re anticipating a lot of people upgrading their businesses and moving a lot more products, we’re also hiring for general staff at the moment”. 
 
Michael added, “Their role would be in relation to customs, we would already have nine custom brokers here in Shannon preparing custom entries in and out of the country, with Brexit that will increase dramatically at least a fifty percent increase so all these staff will be trained into our procedures and systems to ensure we are ready for the volume of business that will occur on January 1st 2021”. 
 
Undoubtedly aviation is a key component to their business model and with the global crisis affecting this industry, it has had challenges for companies like Expeditors. “The lack of airline capacity globally has been challenging our rates and services. Every shipment now has it’s own challenges and while we certainly have the experience and expertise, the world has changed in the freight forwarding sense for sure”. 
 
With airlines reducing their services from Shannon Airport, they have had to find alternatives which have mainly been found through London and others through continental Europe. “For these companies business has gone on so we’ve had to go and adapt and make sure we’re servicing all of our Customers”.

A Munster minor championship winner with Clare in 1981, Michael is assured that the local branch and office of Expeditors is in a strong position. “We see that there will be more opportunities as Brexit approaches. Though challenging, we also see Brexit as an opportunity with the amounts of increased Customs activity and the opportunity to carry more of our Customers shipments”.

“As a young progressive international company we would be looking to increase our business in 2021, we’ve a solid workforce but we’re always on the look for good freight and international transport and logistics people to work for us, we’re always open to talking to the right people to work in our business,” he concluded.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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