BYLINE: BY PETER T. LEACH
Like container carriers, ocean freight intermediaries are seeing their cargo volumes drop. But unlike the carriers, their bottom lines are not dragged into the red by ships that must be laid up or by expensive vessel orders that will take years to pay off. As a result, transportation middlemen see opportunities in the current downturn.
Granted, itOs no bed of roses for customs brokers, forwarders and non-vessel-operating common carriers. The downturn has hit them hard, and some will be forced to close, merge or be taken over. But even though their business has flattened out or is dropping and customers are taking longer to pay their bills, ocean freight intermediaries remain surprisingly optimistic in the face of the withering downturn in global trade.
OItOs not all going to hell in a handbasket, despite what you see on CNN,O said Jeffrey Coppersmith, president of Coppersmith Inc., a Los Angeles-based forwarder and customs broker.O We still have freight. ThereOs still container traffic on the freeway. Our import department has slowed down, but our exports have been strong all year long.O