I am delighted to report that this year’s 17th Freight Club Conference in Panama was a tremendous success. And despite some early trepidation regarding the Zika virus and the reluctance of certain members to travel to Central America (coupled with some visa mishaps), there was a very strong turnout nonetheless.
The Conference ran from 10-13 April at the Hilton Panama, situated in the vibrant metropolis of Panama City. The Conference brought together the great and the good of The Freight Club, and members did not spare the unique opportunity to network and do business together in the idyllic environs of Panama City, with all the attractions and amenities the city has to offer. Members could be found networking by the pool, on the beach, or while wandering through the lively city streets.
There is no doubt that this was the perfect setting for our members to catch up with one another and unwind, while also pressing ahead with important business.
The Panama Canal
Our trip to The Panama Canal was definitely one of the most interesting and worthwhile activities on offer to members – both highly informative and a great excuse to see more of the country. The Panama Canal is a 48-mile manmade waterway that cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is sometimes referred to as the eight wonder of the world. It is a key transit point for a great deal of our ocean container traffic travelling back and forth between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; and needless to say, this was a great point-of-interest to our members.
While visiting the canal we were afforded the opportunity to observe the lock system in operation, and indeed, one of the ships that passed through during our visit had actually been used by one of our members on a number of occasions. So we can actually claim with good authority: we will literally go the extra mile to personally track the movement of our members’ goods.
During the Closed Members’ Session and AGM there was a lively debate between members, with almost everyone present contributing positively to the discussion and adding valuable insight. The main areas touched on were the current role played by members within The Freight Club, and in particular, the constant desire to recruit quality new members. A motion was put to those in attendance to assist in sponsoring new members – which was agreed unanimously. This commitment will help to bolster membership in the future and to further enhance and enrich the organization as a whole.
A presentation of the new website was given, alongside the new digital marketing strategy being designed, which will look to enhance our online presence and drive traffic to our website and affiliates. Both projects will further develop and strengthen the reach of The Freight Club, while safeguarding the interests and utilities of members in the future. This was very well received by the attendees.
This year has seen major changes in the make-up of the Board, with all members having served their allotted term in office being required to step down – as defined within the rules of the organization.
On behalf of all the members I would like to thank Vanessa Wijnstok, Tomasso Rittizelli and Alfredo Correia, as well as all past board members for their loyal service to The Freight Club. All have served admirably, and all have left their mark.
The new Board was elected as follows:
- Sean Sandford, re-elected as President
- John Sampson of New Direx Inc. New York & Los Angeles, is taking on the role of Treasurer
- Doug Carlson of Branson International Canada. Responsible for membership and Marketing
Finally, as the 17th Freight Club Conference drew to a close we discussed possible destinations to host next year’s conference, to be held in May. Four locations were identified, with the merits of each carefully considered and contested, following which a vote was put to the membership. The unanimous choice was Rome, Italy, subject to a hotel being selected with suitable facilities in accordance with our budget. We are fortunate enough to have our past President Tommaso Rittizelli resident in Rome and he has very generously agreed to assist us in finding a suitable location.
I wish you all every success in your business and thank you for your assistance in contributing to the ever-growing membership base and your continued support and assistance, without which The Freight Club could not thrive.
Kind regards to all,
The Freight Club