President’s Letter: November, 2018

As I teased in The Pallet, November's a big month for voting. On the first Tuesday of the month, we vote for state and federal candidates. On the second Tuesday of the month, we vote for board positions for the IACAC. It is humbling to see new faces running for the board - it tells us that the energy the group is generating makes people want to be part of it and advance us even further. We are fortunate to have guidance, advice and support from many past presidents and board members - and what those people have to say and offer is extremely valuable and informs us as we debate and consider new opportunities for our members.

The annual election luncheon will be held Tuesday, November 13th, at the Department of Aviation. We encourage all our members to attend not just to network, but to meet our candidates, all of whom will be speaking and presenting themselves at the event. If you can't make the event in person but are a member in good standing of the IACAC, you can vote for the candidates by absentee ballot.

All you need to register for the luncheon or download and submit your ballot can be found right here.

December Holiday Luncheon

Mark your calendars for Tuesday - December 11th - a little over a month from now - to join us for our annual Holiday Luncheon at Belvedere Events & Banquets in Elk Grove Village. As always, we encourage everyone to bring an unwrapped toy for the Toys for Tots collection that IACAC Board Member (and Marine) Maureen Schmitt arranges. Please also bring items that we can raffle off to raise money for our Scholarship Fund. Tickets are a very affordable $35 for members and non-members alike and we encourage everyone to join us and participate. Registration is open for the luncheon at this link.

IACAC Board On The Road - TIACA and WESCCON

Chuck Menini and I were both in Toronto for TIACA's Air Cargo Forum 2018 - it was extremely informative and gave us a few great ideas for topics to have for our upcoming luncheons, including UAV's and explosive-sniffing dogs. Along with this were very interesting sessions, some of which are available on TIACA's Periscope page that were live-streamed or by going back through TIACA's Twitter feed from those few days. 

If you're interested in hearing what Chuck and I had to say, why not check out this video from the IACAC Facebook page? 

I was also fortunate enough to score an interview with TIACA's Secretary General Vladimir Zubkov. That video is also on the IACAC Facebook page - but go ahead and use this direct link.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Brian Bartolotta was exhibiting at WESCCON and the word everybody was buzzing about was tariffs and what it has meant for importers as well as freight forwarders.

Join us (or join us again) in 2019

We are very excited to be kicking off membership renewals for 2019. We have plenty of great things planned for 2019 including members-only events, discounts and service offerings from vendors who want your business. We're extremely affordable at only $130 for a corporate membership and $50 for an individual membership. Don't wait - renew today.

President’s Letter: October, 2018

It is a sincere pleasure to have the opportunity to write this column every month. Despite having left the transactional side of the business now six year ago, the degree to which I remain involved in the day-to-day issues that affect the industry is amazing and wonderful. I stand by my firm belief that there are fewer industries where we rely on each other more - both asset and non-asset owning companies - and where individual friendships and relationships are forged and remain in place for decades. People that fall in love with logistics don't necessarily go to school for it. Maybe they answer an ad, have a friend who ropes them in or have a family member who is already "in it". However people come to it and for whatever reasons they remain, makes me more proud of our industry with each passing day.

London & Brussels calling.

In September, I traveled to the UK and Brussels and had the pleasure to meet and network with people like the publisher of The Loadstar, Alex Lennane and the head of BIFA, Robert Keene. We talked congestion, Brexit and the issues that forwarders deal with on a daily basis and rest assured, they are the same things, just on the other side of the pond.

In Brussels, I spent a day and a half with the amazing Steven Polmans, head of cargo and logistics for Brussels Airport. With a staff of seven, Brucargo has taken a number of steps to alleviate congestion and to work more closely. It took them a number of years, but Air Cargo Belgium is now the group to which everyone belongs and has a paid staff that manages technology, working groups and collaboration and problem / conflict resolution. It is my personal belief that for airport communities to have the success of Brussels, the airports must take the lead as the facilitators. Dedicated staff who act as the mediators, facilitators and advocates are best positioned to represent these groups. 

Brussels also operates Brucloud, a technology platform which companies connect to and is growing through the use of things like slot booking and information sharing. I took a video with Sara van Gelder from Steven's team and it's here on Facebook

It took Brussels seven years and while I hope that here in Chicago and elsewhere it doesn't take that long for us, they've given me a blueprint in my mind for how we can work better together.

Two more events - Elections and our holiday party.

As we move into November and December, we only have two major events remaining on the calendar - our elections which are on Tuesday, November 13th, and our holiday party on Tuesday, December 11th. Please mark your calendars to attend both. Watch for the emails reminding you and providing a chance to register. If you are interested in running for the IACAC board - and I believe we have at least four, possibly five declared candidates as of this writing, we welcome your engagement and participation.

Membership renewals coming for 2019 - and get the rest of 2018 if you join now!

In November you will start to see an earnest push for membership - whether getting our 2018 members to renew, getting former members back or finding companies and individuals to join us for the first time next year. The IACAC is making internal improvements to increase the value of membership in our organization. I personally promise that while you may have seen benefits of membership to date, it will ramp up even further next year.

September, 2018 President’s Letter

As we enter the final quarter of the year, we're all wondering what the peak will look like this year. There is, of course, the usual reliable shipments of new consumer electronics such as the latest offerings from Apple and other tech companies, the holiday toys that make an impact and the exponential year-on-year increases in eCommerce packages that are changing the composition of forwarders consolidations.

Here in Chicago, with the announcement that Mayor Emanuel will not seek re-election, we wonder what things will look like over at the Department of Aviation and whether or not there will be turnover in leadership and what that means for cargo and cargo development.

What we do know is that we will work closely with the city and our airline and ground handling partners to ensure that we have an open dialog for staffing and service and if issues arise, we've got someone to talk to and communicate to our members quickly and effectively.

September luncheon - Kyle Matousek

This one will be a treat. We are normally very focused on industry issues that sometimes we forget what is necessary for our businesses or for our own professional development. Kyle's experiences as a firefighter and in the military position him to talk about leadership from some fairly life-and-death positions. While those who haven't faced that kind of danger cavalierly throw around the term "I nearly died because of 'x'," in Kyle's case this is the literal truth. Register for the event here.

September networking - Oktoberfest!

With thanks to DHL Aviation, AOT Group, Tax Air and TransChicago National Lease, we're going to have a great time on Thursday, September 13th at Church Street Brewing in Itasca. We've got a pretzel truck, we've got Oktoberfest beer and we've got a great night with friends and colleagues. Free for members  - $25.00 for non-members. We'll be offering memberships for 2019 that includes the balance of 2018 - so don't miss a chance to get some value for dollar. Register here.

October luncheon - Brandon Fried

With a pretty key election coming up in November, Brandon's insight sitting just a block and a half away from the White House and the Capitol are always welcome. There are still important things happening in regulatory agencies such as ACAS and the FMCSA taking a look at the Hours of Service issue. Brandon's insight will be welcome and note that he'll be at the Chicago Department of Aviation's facility. Registration is open - click here to get registered now.

Visiting London and Brussels this month

This month I will be traveling to both London and Brussels over the course of a week. In the UK I will be meeting with representatives of BIFA, the British International Forwarders Association. My plan is to talk Brexit, a third runway at Heathrow and how they deal with congestion owing to very tight real estate and ground handling challenges. I hope to meet with a representative of London Airports as well. Across the channel, I'll be meeting with Steve Polmans, head of cargo at Brussels Airport and getting a tour and understanding of a Cargo Community they've created called Brucloud. I hope to speak to several global ground handlers who are in both Brussels and Chicago to find out how they manage and interface with their local air cargo communities to improve productivity and communication. Watch for some trip reports from the road.


President’s Letter: August, 2018

A week ago, the IACAC held our annual golf outing, and I have to say that it was a success. This is thanks to the participation and generosity of our sponsors, golfers and everyone who came out for lunch and brought items to raffle off. We are extremely fortunate to have such an amazing community here in Chicago and words fail me sometimes at how we come out for a cause. We've got the photo gallery here on the site - check it out.

THANK YOU to our hole sponsors:

  • Cathay Pacific
  • Alliance Ground International
  • Fastmore Logistics
  • Midwest Express
  • AirBridge Cargo
  • Air Canada Cargo
  • Charity Golf
  • Land Air Express
  • IAG Cargo
  • Basic Crating & Packaging
  • BCS Placement
  • Riege Software International
  • Avalon Risk Management
  • Heavyweight Air Express
  • Quick Caller

THANK YOU to our course sponsors:

  • Rockford Airport
  • Alliance Ground International
  • Forward Air
  • Rank Transportation
  • Freight Force
  • Cargosprint

THANK YOU to our game sponsors:

  • Longest drive: Archgate TMS
  • Closest to the pin: Cargosprint
  • Longest putt:

THANK YOU to our beverage cart and halfway house drink sponsor:

Alaska Air Cargo

THANK YOU to our airline sponsors who donated tickets or miles:

Air Canada

Alaska Air Cargo


Southwest Cargo

THANK YOU to our golf committee and volunteers - this couldn't have happened without all of you before, during and after the event.

We put together two fliers for the golfers and a raffle thank you sponsor sheet. Download them here and if you won something, drop the sponsor a note and say thanks - it really means a lot and lets them know you appreciate their contribution.

SAVE THE DATE - TUESDAY, AUGUST 6, 2019 - We'll see you out there.

The money we raise at the golf outing goes to support our IACAC Scholarship which is now open for applications! We set a page up here on the site and will also be sending emails to our members reminding them that immediate family members of both individual and corporate members are eligible to apply. Details are in the application and applicants need to provide a transcript and answer the three essay questions. Applications are due by the end of October, winners will be announced mid-November and we hope they can also join us at our holiday luncheon in December.

If you're looking ahead to what comes next on the calendar - we'll keep you busy at lunch on September the 11th and networking after work on the 13th. Come hear Kyle Matousek speak about the important qualities of leadership - as a former soldier and firefighter, Kyle's well positioned to share what he has learned and has to offer. $25/members, $35/non-members and those without registrations at the door at the Wyndham. On Thursday night, we're at our favorite after-work haunt, Church Street Brewing Company for an Oktoberfest party sponsored by DHL Aviation, AOT Overseas and TransChicago NationaLease. Free for members, $25 for non-members. Come join us for two Oktoberfest beers and complimentary pretzels from Gnarly Knots Pretzel Truck. RSVP here so we know how many will attend - we will not be taking payments at the door so if you're not a member and you plan to attend, registration must be paid in advance.

If you're interested in joining the IACAC Board of Directors, elections are coming up in November - now's the time to ask questions of any of the current board members and see if you would like to join us.


President’s Letter: July, 2018

I'll admit it - having a son who plays football (futbol) means that our house has been gripped by World Cup fever. The tournament has been a tremendous amount of fun to watch, especially given the number of upsets and matches that were decided on shootouts after 120 minutes of hard-fought play. My friend Steve Polmans with Brussels Airport is quite excited about their prospects, especially after knocking out Brazil just today.

We're entering that part of the year when things slow down a bit - people are taking vacations and having the 4th of July sit right smack in the middle of the week meant that people were really dividing-and-conquering with vacations. Some the weekend before and the holiday, some the holiday and the weekend after. It's part of the reason that we put the luncheons on snooze for July and August - people going a bunch of different directions and getting both interest and a full house is a challenge.

This month, we're planning a social event so watch your inbox - it'll be the evening of July 19th in Rosemont - we had a great time last summer taking in a concert and have designs on doing the same again later this month. The featured musical act that night is a Bob Segar tribute band - it promises to be a rocking time for all.

We're also booking quickly for our IACAC Golf Outing - with a month to go until the event we've got nearly all our holes sponsored and golfers filling our foursomes. If you've not registered, the early bird deadline is Monday - what are you waiting for? Sign up today.

Remember - this event benefits our scholarship fund, so we welcome raffle items and donations for our luncheon after golf. We know that your time is valuable and after a great day on the course that the last thing you want to become is a prisoner of the banquet room - so we promise to feed you and get you out the door with a prize and a full stomach as quickly as possible afterwards. Our IACAC Scholarship Fund is also a 501(c)(3) charity and can provide you with a letter for your tax deductible charitable donation.

We covered as well in The Pallet that CBP finally published about ACAS in the Federal Register. Don't miss knowing what that is about because while it is targeted at inbound air cargo right now, there are a number of countries to whom CBP is going to give access to their targeting engine and it may only be a matter of time before we're filing it for export.

That's all from here - thanks for your time and I look forward to seeing you at our events in the coming months.


President’s Letter – June, 2018

As I write this letter at the end of May and beginning of June, everywhere we turn, there seem to be trade fires burning. Steel and aluminum waivers were rescinded for the EU, Canada and Mexico. China duties appear set to be announced later this month to the tune of an additional $50 billion in imports. And everybody is saying thank you by adding their own reciprocal duties on our products.

This is what I wrote in my own company's weekly newsletter that went out today:

Trade is under siege here in America. While the reaction from many is to say, "It's only 'x' percent on 'y' commodities from 'z' countries and it's not like it affects me directly," stop and think about that for a moment. Companies budgeted for their landed costs and now need to find and deposit additional double-digit percentages for their raw material inputs or finished goods. How does this affect their planned growth, hiring, expansion or other capital investments?

Think about how we, the trade, react when a carrier announces a fuel surcharge, a GRI or any kind of rate increase. We fight tooth and nail to mitigate it. There's no mitigating the additional duties that are being collected.

If you're a US producer or exporter of any number of products grown, raised, manufactured or even distilled, your customers might slow down or cancel orders in response to our trade moves because your products are now too expensive. Sorry, they'll say, but they'll purchase them from another country without the punitive tariff barriers.

With few exceptions, the United States doesn't have the exclusive market on making "stuff". Our trading partners know what products and brands are uniquely American and their retaliation is and will be targeted at those singular products.

If America is going to continue to be a part of the global economy and not watch cargo from one country pass over, around and through ours en route to buyers and sellers elsewhere, we're going to have to ask ourselves what trade and commerce mean going forward. If we feel strongly that the policies are adverse to the interests of our businesses, then we need to work together to blunt, mitigate, stop or change the path we're traveling.

The figures show that air cargo was up between four and five percent, year on year in April. Overall, the forecast is for between four and five percent growth in 2018. What happens to those consumer electronics from China that we order, or the distilled spirits from the United States that EU member nations or countries throughout Asia order when the punitive duties make it prohibitively expensive for consumers to purchase? 

To alter Gordon Gecko's line about greed from the movie Wall Street, 'Trade is good. Trade works."

Trade gives us jobs. Trade grows our companies. Trade is what we need more than trade barriers.

Talking Tech With Fred

Get ready for our luncheon this month with Fred Werginz of CHAMP Cargo Systems - we're all drowning in paper that prevents us from sharing information and data that help businesses make good decisions. Fred will be here to talk about EDI and other ways that businesses can communicate electronically and share information that makes everyone's work better, more productive and more profitable. Register here.

The golf outing is open for registration - August 7th is the date, Bridges of Poplar Creek is the place.

This one's on me with travel this month at the NCBFAA and CNS Partnership Conference, both of which were highly informative and educational. Your IACAC board was well represented across both conferences with Brian Bartolotta, Olya Lebedyeva, Chuck Menini and myself in attendance at one or both events. 

Golf is now open and we kept the pricing for golf identical as last year - $400/foursome, $125/individual that includes breakfast, golf, your cart and lunch. Lunch is $45/person this year, up slightly from last year to cover our increased costs.

We have also made a change to the sponsorship pricing for holes and signs and letters will be going out to last year's sponsors with all the details including their opportunity to sign-up again for the same signs / bridges / holes as last year. On-course sponsorship is now $300 and will include two people for lunch. Any additional staff will be at $45/person. To differentiate the value between on-course and a sign sponsorship, a sign-only sponsorship will be $200 and will be placed on select holes and/or bridges on the course.

Watch your inbox and your office to be flooded this month with all the details.

President’s Letter: April, 2018

Welcome to April, everyone. Despite the cold snap we've had and the temerity of the local weather people to mention the "s" word for later in the week, baseball season has arrived and Opening Day on both sides of town should prove to we usually get with early season baseball in Chicago.

I'd like to apologize for not getting a post up for March nor a Pallet out. It came right on the heels of the successful AirCargo Conference in Austin and with everything else coming up in March to promote, we threw our efforts towards that. In fact, let's talk about March.

Three successful March events.

While I was unable to attend, our ELD luncheon featuring Omintracs was tremendously successful. As of April 1st, the ELD regulations are now fully in place and our nearly thirty attendees got to hear all about what the new reality is as they grope with the challenges of a tight capacity market and new regulations that will impact the drivers and the distances they can travel.

We also held two successful networking events, our March Madness event at the Wyndham and our Wolves outing at the Allstate Arena (you can call it the "Rosemont Horizon" if you want - I won't judge). Thanks so much to our event sponsors.

March Madness:

  • Basic Crating & Packaging
  • Alaska Air Cargo (we missed you, Ravelle!)
  • BCS Placement

Wolves Game:

  • Air Canada Cargo
  • Riege Software
  • Cargosprint
  • BCS Placement
  • Position : Global

We cannot host these events and make them free without the support of our sponsors, so thank you to everyone. 

April luncheon and membership stuff.

We are slated to have Mike White, the President of CNS, speak to our audience this month. Register here if you've not done so already. Mike is this year's recipient of the Jim Foster Award from the Airforwarders Association, an annual award that recognizes a lifetime contribution to the air freight industry. I know Mike personally and have worked with him for years on a variety of issues and he's knowledgeable and entertaining. 

With Mike's event, as with future events where we have national speakers, the pricing will be slightly higher. We believe that if someone is going to travel to speak to the IACAC, then we can help offset the expense and provide them with accommodations. The slightly higher cost reflects not only the quality of the speaker but defraying the cost of their travel. This pricing will also be in effect for Brandon Fried's luncheon in October.

At the March luncheon, we discovered a number of attendees who registered as members who, according to our membership roster, are not.

In April we will be removing all the IACAC website logins of previous members and replace them with the most updated current membership roster, so if you know you're a member, watch for the email. We will also be setting up our events such that if you wish to register at the member rate, you'll need to log into the site to access the member pricing. This will be the case for network events as well. 

Why be a member? There are plenty of reasons.

  1. It's affordable. $50/individual, $130 for a corporate membership. A corporate membership is tied to the company and includes up to three people and they are all entitled to vote in our annual election and on matters involving the membership.
  2. We're going to have a job board. That's right, a job board. Starting later this month, we'll have a job board where paid IACAC members will be able to post jobs at no charge. Note: you do not need to be a member to view the available jobs or apply for a position.
  3. Networking events will be free to members, but non-members will have to pay to attend. We'd rather you spend your money being a member year-round and getting free access to these events and discounted pricing for other things than paying to mingle each and every time.

Don't delay. Join today.



President’s Letter: February, 2018

We're keeping on thinking warm thoughts even as the Pennsylvania-based rodent saw whatever he saw last week. 

There are a number of things we have going on with the IACAC and nationally that I would like to share with everyone.

CACMA Participation

The IACAC is extremely fortunate we can join the bi-monthly meetings of the Chicago Area Cargo Managers Association that are held at American Airlines Cargo. We learn from these gatherings where airlines, cargo handlers and the airport regulatory authorities come together constructively to talk about issues ranging from changes in the handling of animals at T5 to snow removal plans. It is really eye-opening to hear about the challenges and considerations that come with managing both passenger and cargo processes.

What was most enlightening at the most recent event was the opportunity to meet the head of the airport's Emergency Management Agency. We had a constructive talk about how we can be part of the notification and involvement process for situations at the airport. There were also some interesting ideas tossed out about congestion in the key cargo areas and we're looking at them again through the prism of, "What if overcrowding is a safety issue." Stay tuned.

Membership has its privileges

As we ask everyone to renew in 2018, we are focused on the ways that we can bring demonstrable value to our paying members. At $50 for an individual and only $130 for a corporation, the cost to participate in the IACAC is negligible. What can people get out of their membership? We have personally identified a number of areas including access to legal counsel, a network of connectivity with regulatory agencies in Chicago and Washington as well as collaborative relationships with air cargo associations around the United States.

We're not in this thing alone, and if we are able to help one member solve a problem with an agency or stop the meter from running on a storage or cost issue, we think that we've demonstrated our intrinsic value. Stay tuned and if you've not already renewed or joined, do so today.

Not too late to join AirCargo 2018 in Austin

February 18 - 20 is when it is happening and if you've not booked your ticket, don't miss it. The agenda is packed with sessions that will help people bring things back to their offices and see immediate value. Along with this is an exhibition hall that has been filled to capacity with more than eighty vendors who are in the air cargo industry. Check out for all the details and to register. The conference hotel is sold-out, but there are plenty of surrounding properties available.

Looking ahead on the calendar:

  • February 13 - Educational luncheon on TSA Outreach featuring Aaron Gonzalez and a Mardi Gras-themed menu. Registration is open - sign up now.
  • March 13 - Educational luncheon featuring a speaker from Omnitracs, an ELD manufacturer who will talk trucking.
  • March 15 - Our annual March Madness networking event at the Wyndham - Sponsorships available!
  • March 28 - A networking event at the Chicago Wolves sponsored by Air Canada Cargo - watch for details because we'll have a limited number of tickets available owing to capacity constraints.
  • April 10 - We booked him when he was just a lowly Vice President, but the IACAC is pleased to welcome newly-minted CNS President Mike White to talk about the national-level industry things that CNS is doing.

We're still programming through the summer including the annual IACAC Golf Outing held on Tuesday, August 7 - we've got our first golf committee meeting this month and will be reaching out to previous sponsors to let them know what's happening here in 2018.

Presidents Letter: January, 2018


Happy New Year, everyone!

To begin, I would like to say it is a privilege and honor to hold the presidency of the IACAC for a second consecutive year. At our November board meeting, one of the changes to the bylaws the membership approved was changing the term of president from one to two years. Having spent the first year really getting my feet under me, I feel poised in this second year to advance things even more.

There are a number of things I wanted to bring to everyone's attention this month and here they are in no particular order.

Events in the first quarter: Mark your calendar

  • January 17th: Evening networking event at Punch Bowl Social, sponsored by BCS Placement, Roanoke Trade and Edward J. Zarach & Associates. Click here to register.
  • February 13th: Luncheon featuring TSA for a non-SSI discussion of regulated parties and their authorized representatives.
  • March 13th: Luncheon featuring a discussion about ELD's and what the landscape looks like after a few months in action.
  • March 15th: Evening networking event, our annual "March Madness" event at the Wyndham. We're looking for sponsors!
  • March 28th: Evening networking event at the Chicago Wolves, sponsored by Air Canada Cargo.

We've got committees that need volunteers - join us!

The IACAC has a number of standing committees that are engaged throughout the year. We're going to be getting a page stood up on the website about these committees, what they do and who is already on them, but if you're looking for a way to get involved with the IACAC, this is a great way to get your feet wet and see if you'd like to take on more responsibility, like running for a seat on our board. We're looking for people for the following committees. Contact me with any questions directly.

  • Membership
  • Advertising
  • Scholarship
  • Welfare
  • Golf
  • Social / Networking
  • Political Action

Members: Renew for 2018. Thinking about joining? Now's your chance.

Several of us on the board were having a discussion about the tangible benefits that individuals and companies get as members of the IACAC. For $50 for an individual and $130 for a corporate membership, we think that it is a small investment that pays back many times over. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • The IACAC has counsel from Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A. who can answer member legal questions and can be retained if they don't already have legal representation.
  • The association offers our individual members anonymity when it comes to approaching a regulatory agency or service provider to discuss and solve a problem.
  • The IACAC has a seat at the table for CACMA and other airport entities to reach out on behalf of our members to try to change policy.
  • Our affiliation and close working relationship with the Airforwarders Association means that when we have issues of policy which rise beyond Chicago and to Washington, Brandon Fried and the AfA are there for us.
  • The IACAC has cultivated relationships with the air cargo associations in the other major gateway cities of Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, New York, Seattle and other key airports. We have the connections to help our members find the right people to solve problems with their import or export cargo in these other markets.

Those are just a few of the reasons that being a member of the IACAC makes good business sense. We hope you'll take a few minutes to renew your membership today or join the IACAC.