InterviewUS chem logistics firm to expand

12 November 2007 23:36  [Source: ICIS news]

Logistics firm to expandBy Brian Ford

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US chemical lead logistics service provider Odyssey plans to expand into Europe next year, the company's chief executive said on Monday.

“The planned expansion is to Europe and then to Asia,” chief executive and president Robert Shellman said.

Odyssey Logistics & Technology, which presently serves the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) region, plans to launch its European operations on 1 January, Shellman said.

The European operations will be headquartered at Antwerp, Belgium, and will initially have 10-12 people, with support from Odyssey's corporate headquarters.

The expansion of the Danbury, Connecticut-based logistics company into Europe will allow the company to provide more services for its North American clients too, Shellman said.

As chemical manufacturers focus on their core strengths, they should consider outsourcing their transportation management chores, he said.

“Very few companies have good transportation data,” he added. “Our system gives them the ability to look at all the information at one spot,” he said.

The global transportation management systems market was expected to grow from $989m (€673m) in 2005 to more than $1.3bn by 2010, according to the ARC Advisory Group.

Chemical manufacturers “require as much relief as possible to create efficiencies,” Shellman said, hence the need for third-party logistics management providers.

Many companies do not consider logistics management to be one of their core strengths and have downsized such functions “to the point where it is difficult for them to do their job,” Shellman said.

Odyssey was launched in 2003 by the group that created UniGlobal Logistics, a subsidiary of Union Carbide that managed its $650m global transportation expenditures, Shellman said.

Following Union Carbide’s acquisition by Dow Chemical, “We entered into discussions with Dow to take the company [that would become Odyssey] private,” Shellman said.

“It became clear to us the way for the company to grow was to be independent,” Shellman said.

Shellman said his company own no transportation equipment, warehouses or terminals, which allows allowing it to negotiate as an independent, neutral party in the marketplace.

When Odyssey was launched, its original “footprint” was the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) region, Shellman said.

“We serve 60,000 origins and destinations in the NAFTA region and provide service in 200 ports worldwide.”

The company offers a one-stop service, which uses software programmes that provide transportation cost transparency to its customers, Shellman said. Its 180 clients include Hercules, WR Grace, Evonik, Cyro, Chemtura, Arch and others.

“All of our customers know the real freight costs,” Shellman said. “Our customers are charged the actual freight costs that we purchased it at.”

($1.00 = €0.68)

By: Brian Ford
+1 713 525 2653

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