A Time for Reflection

It is the 31st of January 2020 and I am sitting in a pub sipping my ‘non-alcoholic’ beer, it is dry January after all. It’s a German beer and this is irrelevant really. When I was seven and half years old, Great Britain joined the EU. Since then I have lived in France, in two different regions, attended a European School, went to University in Strasbourg France and count many friends in many different countries. We have a business that specialises in European freight and have watched and help companies grow with us. We have travelled all over Europe and enjoyed many holidays. Now, at the age of 54, it appears that all this may change, and I feel sad that my children won’t get these opportunities that I had growing up. It is a time to reflect on what has been probably an awkward club membership, with the Uk never really being fully committed to being part of a wider group. We are fiercely patriotic, independent and quite stubborn as a nation: and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It is what defines us and is one of our strengths.

Whilst our politicians decipher the finer points in our withdrawal agreement, it is time to wipe the slate clean, not bear grudges or animosity for our fellow citizens but try and understand how this has divided us and what is needed to repair the chasm that has appeared in our society and families.

Surely if the one lesson we can take from our membership is that united we stand and this we must now do as a nation. Maybe the new dawn will bring fresh ideas and create opportunities that had not arisen before; when you think outside the box, solutions can be found that otherwise would be lost if you were caught in the middle. Certainly, the EU has its issues and just perhaps this landmark decision is a pivotal moment that will restructure a new and better Europe, a Europe that our children will want to be part of again once more.

It is neither a moment of sadness or celebration in my opinion, it is a pause, a moment in history where we take a breath and understand the greater things around us: our planet is taking quite a battering at the moment and this should be our top priority. As citizens of the world, we need to look at a much bigger picture. We cannot withdraw into our shell and hope there will be a world left for us once we emerge. And this is the biggest challenge of all, in the continued thirst for commercialism and profit, we need to take a different approach and contribute on whatever scale we can.

This said tomorrow, dry January will come to an end and I have a nice bottle of fine Italian Prosecco to mark this occasion and this makes me extremely happy.

The Environment

Thinking about your Personal and Business Impact on the environment. Apart from Brexit (how could I not mention this thorn in our side), climate change is possibly the hottest topic of our era. There are the likes of Trump who would dismiss this as fake news and fabricated data but most of the civilised world understand the real and fast approaching dangers that is threatening our very existence. Our relentless abuse of the planet is taking its toll and we must at all costs take action now. Whilst we can lobby, march and raise awareness, the big decisions lie with our governments, and yes, we can influence to a certain extent, but we do have to rely on our politicians to take some bold actions, it can’t be just talk! But what can we do on a more personal level? We recycle at home. I try to make sure that most of what we throw away is recyclable and if my general waste bin is nearly empty after two weeks, I consider this a small victory. We try to minimise the food waste, making sure we cook only what we need, use leftovers effectively and this brings the added benefit of thinking about what you eat leading to healthier diets. We try to buy less packaged food. Try to source food locally and reduce your carbon footprint, buying eggs from local farmers, vegetables and fruit from local farm shops (and trying to plan meals with vegetables and fruit that are in season). Supermarkets must also play their part by sourcing locally where possible, supplying less packaging. In business we can recycle print cartridges, only print paper when necessary and if we use paper, make sure we use both sides, reduce your heating (very often offices are stuffy and we open windows rather than looking at lowering our heating – also good on the pocket!), look at cycling, walking or taking the bus to work rather than driving, if driving is a must look at car shares. Think about working from home, also more pleasurable as you don’t have to wear a suit at home and this also means you are not wasting hours on a train or in a car, this can lead to increased productivity. There are many things we can do to help and whilst they are infinitely small, collectively they amount to great steps. By thinking about what we do with our footprint, there are added benefits that can have very positive impacts on our daily lives, whether it be our health or our pockets! Please think how and what you could change in order to make an impact.

Brexit Freight Implications

The elephant in the room: Brexit and the implications for the freight industry.

How do we prepare for something that is so unclear? Whilst freight continues to flow through the ports and the channel tunnel, the big question on all our minds is:

“How will this change the freight industry after 11pm on the 29th of March 2019?”

No-one knows if things will continue without a blip or not, or whether we will experience what is demonstrated in the above image but taking measures to combat the worst possible outcomes is most certainly a good decision. It might be worth stock piling supplies where possible, optimising and pushing for greater sales prior to leaving the EU so that stock on both sides of the channel is available in enough quantities to override any potential delays, and realistically there will be some delays. Certainly, there is talk that larger businesses will do just that. For perishable goods, these options are not so easy and finding alternatives in and out of the UK may be a good way of minimising this impact. Customs procedures will need to be very efficient and preferably automatic for the fluidity of traffic to be maintained.

We here at Pathfinder International are in close talks with several of our agents at the ports and we will be looking for a smooth transition and we will keep our customers informed on ways that we believe will help to make sure their businesses continue to thrive.

As always, we will work alongside our customers to provide the best possible service at the best possible rate.

Let’s Clean up our Oceans!

“Over 5 trillion pieces of plastic currently litter the ocean.”

The long awaited dream child of Boyan Slat was deployed from California this month with the aim to begin the clean up of the great Pacific Patch, the floating island of plastic three times the size of France. It is an amazing project and very much overdue. It is not a quick fix as the plan expects the clean up operation to last at least five years, and this is taking in the current size of the area. But if we continue to dump our rubbish irresponsibly in our oceans, this sadly may be a losing battle.

We need to take action at the source of the problem. It always amazes me how many people continue to litter, suffocating our world a little more, killing defenceless animals and poisoning fauna, with a complete disregard for our planet and a short sightedness that is baffling.

Suppressing surplus packaging is an absolute necessity but also encouraging people to choose how they buy, opting for loose vegetables and fruit rather than packaged ones. If we continue to buy ready packed then the market will continue to supply. This needs to be addressed on all fronts, by suppliers, supermarkets and customers. The government must start imposing some sanctions to make this happen like the ban of PLASTIC straws, cotton buds and stirrers.

We need to lead by example, lets show our peers and our children how to respect the world around us, understand it’s fragility and protect it, repair our damage and make sure it does not happen again. We need to create a thousand Boyan Slat.

If you wish to follow Boyan Slat – here is the twitter link:


The Importance of Branding

In the cogs of the economy, there is a place for all, from the giants in industry right down to the small company. To add purpose though one needs to understand how our contributions can add value. This brings about self worth and the appreciation of our work.   Adding value to what we do helps to grow our business and understanding of where each company fits in the grander scheme of things and how we can help each other reach higher goals.

When we were choosing our company name, we wanted a name that offered solutions to problems, that showed a clearer way of doing things.

Pathfinder: “a person who goes ahead and discovers or shows others a path or the way”.

Pathfinder synonyms are pioneer and trailblazing. We felt that this company name would help us to keep in the forefront of our mind how we wanted to conduct business.   Having a brand, company name and motto helps us to pave the way of our ambitions. We know that standing still is not an option, reinvention, finding new ways and being competitive are key in the route to success. Our marketing design agency http://kissdesignltd.com/ helped us fulfil this front of house image and we cannot stress enough how important this has been in the development of our vision. It has reinvigorated our company and given us a new drive. We would certainly advise any company out there who feel they need some impetus to look at how they are portraying themselves to the outside world. Good agencies like Kiss Design can make a world of difference.

Creativity & Problem Solving

Creativity and problem solving is key in making sure we are prepared for any freight permutations that are thrown at us. The old saying you cannot stand still has never been so true. Looking at our business, we need to make sure we are always looking forward, exploring new routes, new ways of shipping, more efficient ways and also examining how we can serve our customers better.

The relationships we build with our suppliers and customers alike are built on trust and transparency. It is important to demonstrate this at all times: no tricks and no lies if things go wrong. We believe this formula has enabled good retention in both camps. These strong relationships have seen us grow alongside our customers and enabled our suppliers in turn to grow too. This is fundamentally important to the growth cycle of our economy.

A freight forwarder builds and fills the gaps, providing a service that can be tailored to each customers’ requirements, helping them to fulfil orders and by becoming an extension of the image they wish to create with their own clients. By being flexible, we can use the best routes in the most cost-effective way. We can also maximise space within vehicles and make sure we use vehicles that will cover the shortest distance to deliver shipments. This efficiency is also eco efficient too; a win, win. Handling is inevitable for smaller shipments, but we try to limit this where possible. In the current climate, keeping costs down are paramount in overseas marketability. It is a fine line between cost effective and cheap, the latter being a tip in the balance of potential disaster and loss of business. We drive continuously for the former.

Can Companies Shrink Their Carbon Footprint and Stay Competitive?

“The Uk has an ambitious target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. The overall contribution of the transport sector to Uk greenhouse gas emissions is 20 per cent. Within the sector, hgvs make up 20 per cent of emissions, vans over 13 per cent and cars over 58 per cent.”


In a just-in-time world, how is it possible to lessen our carbon footprint and not lose pace with our competitors? As business owners and directors, it is important to take the lead by looking at transport methods and seeing how they can be enhanced and be made greener. First and foremost, offering incentives for car shares to work, working from home days, and using alternative modes of transport like cycling and walking will improve the initial footprint. Our office is based near our home, so our carbon footprint is virtually nil when it comes to commuting to work. The nature of our business does not require a warehouse or have our own fleet of vehicles, but if it did we would like to think we would have a fleet of the newly released Tesla electric semi big-rig trucks, (Pictured), promising a range of up to 500 miles at maximum weight and highway speed, It is said that the Tesla Semi consumes less than two kilowatt-hours of energy per mile when fully loaded.

We utilise space in warehouses and vehicles that are already there so we are not adding to the current emissions. Naturally this is not possible for all companies but efficient use of infrastructures and transport should be scrutinised, an empty warehouse should be downsized, and idle vehicles should be decommissioned. These unused spaces do not need to go to waste, they would simply need to be recycled and used for something else. The impact of demolition versus changing the use of the warehouse should be considered.

When examining the transport methods we use, it is clear that an express van will have less impact on the environment than airfreight. We maximise the space utilised on our express vans and offer shared vans, which is both cost effective and a greener solution to the dedicated use of a van. For short routes and most European destinations, the express van is quite often the quickest solution but also the one with the least environmental impact – a marriage between just-on-time and attempting to be greener. There are of course greener alternatives but they do take longer and here lies the conundrum. Until we can make our rail networks and river ways more effective, as well as greener, the road alternative will always win.

Make a Difference…

It’s a New Year, we may or may not make resolutions. In such busy and unstable times, it is important to make resolutions that not only count on a personal level but also, in our humble opinion, however small, make a difference outside our immediate circles. Whatever your cause, making these things count help to keep us grounded,

Last year, Debs and I supported various causes, Breast Cancer, Dementia, Stroke and the homeless. We have tried our best to raise awareness and funds for these various charities. There are so many charities that need our help and it seems like an incredible mountain that seems to be growing at great speed. However, we do feel privileged to be able to help and we will continue to strive to do this.

This time last year, one of our dear close friends was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. This spurred us into action and having just discovered road cycling, we decided to channel our efforts into entering as many cycling events that we could manage, and we have clocked over a thousand miles between us. The personal benefits have been wonderful. We have felt fitter and healthier. We start our working day with new vigor and we believe this has impacted the way we do business where we strive to make our business better. This year, on the 5th of May, we ride through the night with many friends to raise more money but also to celebrate beating cancer. Our beautiful brave friend has indeed done just that and we are incredibly proud of her. You are one amazing warrior Yvonne, inspirational and always smiling despite an incredibly hard year.

So make a difference in 2018! You will be surprised where the journey will take you and you may even discover a new you!!


Be Precise and save money!

It is so important to make sure that the information conveyed to your agent is correct. Asking for a rate for euro size pallets instead of standards or forgetting to mention that all the pallets have overhang is the difference between getting an accurate rate or finding yourself in the dilemma that the haulier has no space for your cargo and you are left with escalating costs because of this.

The quick checklist below should help you to decide if you have provided all the information required to make sure you do not end up with any surprise additional costs:

  • Provide the type of packaging, sizes in cms, weight in kgs and if stackable/non stackable and top stow – Top stow enables you to keep the cost down whilst still making sure nothing goes on top of your cargo. (cms and kgs are best when working Internationally).
  • Where from/to: Postcodes please, they are universal and help with pricing structure.
  • Are your goods hazardous? Class/UN number and packing group help to determine how we can ship your goods. If your goods are limited qty hazardous, you must still provide this information as it is a requirement by all shipping lines and the Tunnel crossing. You must provide a Dangerous Goods Note before the job is collected, this will help to iron out any paperwork issues beforehand.
  • Do you or your customer have means to load/offload the vehicle. If you require a tail lift, you must state this as there is often a premium for this type of service.
  • Do you or your customer have any access issues: ie located down a narrow lane, up a mountain or on an island.
  • Are you or your customer’s business hours different from 9-5pm (Do you have a lunch break/You can only load in the morning/ Your customer requires a timed delivery). Any specific requirements must be communicated at time of quote.
  • Are you looking for a specific delivery time frame – next day/48hrs or normal transit ok. This will also affect the rate and type of vehicle we can use.
  • Does the collection/delivery require being booked in: If this is the case, please make sure a telephone number and contact name is provided.
  • Deliveries of commercial Freight will be Kerbside delivery only. If your customer requires delivery into a building, removal of packaging etc… this also must be stated.
  • Do you require additional insurance? Recommended for high value goods especially.
  • Take into consideration where you are shipping the cargo to and make sure you allow for a contingency in case you have issues: ie, convoy charges in Russia on high value goods, delays in customs clearance, etc…. These are all charges that you should consider when including transport rate to customers in CIS countries. Also national holidays, lengthy closures etc…
  • Use your agent to seek advise on any paperwork. Talking to your local Chamber of commerce also helps.

This is by no means a complete list, a list should be scrutinised for each country and specific customer as each shipment is unique and should be treated as such. It is always good not to assume anything! Your customer may change address without telling you. Their working hours may differ. A new warehouse manager may want things done a different way. Ultimately if you are paying for the freight, then you are responsible for this until the terms have been discharged. Ultimately The more homework done ahead of shipping the smoother the shipment will run.

We’ve clocked our first 100k!

Our quest to stay fit and raise money for breast cancer continued with our longest cycle event to date. On Sunday the 16th September, under dubious weather forecast, we set off in the New Forest to complete 100kms! Thankfully the weather stayed clear with the rain always preceding us and we were grateful for staying dry!

It was a difficult ride with several challenging climbs and Erica running out of steam at 47 miles but with the support of wonderful friends, we both made it across the finish line. The time was completely irrelevant but the sense of achievement was enormous.

We are very much enjoying seeing the great countryside at a slower pace. It is amazing how much you miss when you are whizzing through in a car. Our next challenge is London 55 miles.

Watch this space for more!!!