President’s Letter: April, 2017

No fooling around here - we're all business at the IACAC. (Yeah, right - we're in air cargo - who would believe that line for a SECOND?)

In all seriousness, welcome to the second quarter of the year. Good, grief, the first one went by quickly, albeit free of major snow here in the Chicago area. For the first time in 146 years of recorded meteorological history, there was not more than a trace amount of snow in January or February. It's probably why when we get some rain or a spate of cloudy weather like we've got right now that people are so agitated.

This month, I'll be traveling to the NCBFAA's Annual Conference in New Orleans, at the JFK Brokers Association as their featured speaker mid-month and going to the CNS Partnership Conference at the end of April. I'll be reporting back to IACAC whatever interesting tidbits I pick up at those places and hopefully have some photos and videos to share as well.

Coming in April: Talking Tech with Mark Ketcham

Our April luncheon speaker is Mark Ketcham from Riege Software International, a forty-year old software company at the forefront of many of the initiatives with IATA on their eAWB campaigns. More than air, their products are also used in sea freight and throughout global forwarder operations for Customs brokerage in Europe as well. Mark has spent most of his career in the technology side of forwarding and is looking forward to sharing his perspective on the near term and far-flung possibilities of what we as an industry will be using in future.

Join us Tuesday, April 11th at the Wyndham. Click here to register.

Save the date: Cuatro de Mayo Networking Event

We're putting the finishing touches on the details, but we're planning to head to Adobe Gila's in Rosemont on Thursday night, May 4th. So...May the Fourth be with you as well! #starwars #skypoint If your company is interested in being a sponsor for what we hope is our biggest event yet, please contact me at scott (at) More to come in the coming weeks!

IACAC sponsorships always available.

We're sincerely appreciative of our sponsors, both in The Pallet and on our website. If your company wants to reach an ever-expanding network of air cargo professionals, consider becoming a sponsor (and a member) if you're not already. Check out this page for more information.

President’s Letter: March, 2017

Happy March, everyone. It is a pleasure to serve as your President and want to thank you again for the trust you put in your 2017 IACAC board. There are a number of things that I'd like to mention this month for everyone's consideration.

Passing of two IACAC Presidents.

We are saddened by the passing this month of Vid Rapsys and Herman Ruiz, Jr. Vid served as IACAC President twice, in 1968 and in 1975. Herman served as President in 2009 and was a current member of the 2017 board of directors. Both men have a long and distinguished career in the Chicago air cargo community and are to be remembered for their great works and contributions to our community. 

Membership - Have you renewed?

If you've not renewed your membership from 2016, what are you waiting for? You'll lose out on our Vendor Partnerships that are being rolled out this month as well as the chance for family members or employees to submit an application for an IACAC Scholarship. We are working hard to make membership something that brings education, networking and helps companies see and receive value for their investments. Join the IACAC for 2017 and help us represent the air cargo community in Chicago with as wide a participation as possible.

March Madness and the April luncheon

Put them on your calendar, but registration is open for our March Madness event, sponsored by PayAnyBiz. Come out and join us for a free evening of tournament basketball and friendship at the Wyndham on Thursday night, March 16th. We ask that you RSVP so we can have a count to make sure the food is in plentiful supply.

On April 11th, (registration opening soon), we're featuring Mark Ketcham of Riege Software International who will be presenting to the group on technology changes and platforms that are aiding forwarders and the air cargo sector. There are no shortage of pricing platforms, rate aggregators and tracking systems, but what do they all mean and how do they fit together? Mark will help us understand what is out there and what makes sense for a forward to have in their office.

IACAC Golf Outing August 15th - Sponsorships available.

We are fortunate that our golf outing is one of the best attended events on the Chicago calendar among air cargo professionals. We have had several amazing years of turnout and participation at the Bridges of Poplar Creek and are planning the same for this year.

If your company is interested in reaching a wide audience of airlines, forwarders, truckers and others who support and work in air cargo, there are opportunities across many financial levels to participate. For more information and to become a sponsor, visit our IACAC Golf Outing page  to learn more.

Obituary: Vid Rapsys

We learned today that IACAC President in 1968, Vid Rapsys, passed away last weekend. On a personal note, he worked at Kintetsu alongside my father back in the 70's. I remember Vid by name and reputation even if I don't remember him by face. Visitation and services are this weekend.

Vidmantas "Vid" Rapsys Died February 19, 2017, in his home in Naperville, IL, ten days short of his 77th birthday. Lived long years in Chicago and Downers Grove, IL, and lately by Paw Paw lake, Coloma, MI. He was born in Kaunas, Lithuania, on Feb. 29, 1940--a Leap year baby. Vid and his family came to the United States in 1949, after witnessing the horrors of WWII in Germany. The family settled in Chicago, where two uncles and an aunt awaited them. Vid graduated in 1958 from the prestigious Marianapolis Academy in Thompson, Connecticut, then attended the Illinois Institute of Technology for two years. Vid was a pioneer in the then emerging air cargo industry. He started his career in 1960 with Circle Airfreight Corp. in Chicago. Later, also in Chicago, he worked many years for the Japanese corporate giant Kintetsu, as chief air cargo representative in the United States. He also supervised air cargo agents in West Germany, Hong Kong and South Africa. In 1973 Vid almost singlehandedly set up the highly successful Kintetsu pavilion at the international air cargo expo at Navy Pier. In 1977 he opened his own air cargo agency: Amber Air International, Ltd., with warehouses and offices next to O'Hare airport in Rosemont, IL. His air freight ranged from small packages of life-saving drugs to gigantic machinery for gold mines. He was a member of the International Air Cargo Ass'n of Chicago and Rotary Int'l, under whose auspices he was invited to lecture on air cargo themes worldwide. In business travel alone, he visited more than 60 countries. For a time, he worked enthusiastically with Boy Scout troops in Chicago and was a graduate of the renowned Gilwell program for Scout leaders. (He became a Cub Scout in Germany, back in 1946.) Vid was also a lifelong golf enthusiast. Visitation Friday, February 24, from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Petkus & Son Funeral Home, 12401 S. Archer Ave., Lemont, IL. (1-800-994-7600).

After 11:00 a.m. funeral Mass on Saturday, February 25, Divine Savior Church, 6700 Main St., Downers Grove, IL, Vid will be laid to rest next to his wife, Anne Dunne, and his parents in the St. Casimir's Cemetery, 111th St. and Pulaski Rd., Chicago. Surviving in grief are son, Vidmantas Thomas and family (wife, Laura, son, Michael, daughter, Jessica); son, Ryan; brother, R. John Rapsys; nephews, Anthony Rapsys and family, Aldis Rapsys; niece and goddaughter, Ramona (Rapsys) Toner and family; nephews, Ryan and Robin Rapsys and their families; nephews, Steven and Brian Krieger and their families; niece, Laura Krieger; three cousins in Michigan; and two cousins in Lithuania.

Published in Chicago Sun-Times on Feb. 23, 2017

Miami in March – CNS hosting events March 1st through 3rd

If you're looking for a reason to escape winter and find some sun (although thankfully after today we're starting to get some again), head down to the offices of Cargo Network Services, the US arm of IATA, for some tech meetings March 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

Everybody but forwarders: March 1st & 2nd, these days are for you (ground handlers, truckers, airlines, etc.). Their words:

This session is providing an interactive opportunity to learn and implement best practices on data accuracy and efficient transmissions of electronic messages. Review of most common errors versus the correct completion of the electronic documents.

You will be hearing from subject matter experts and global industry leaders from government agencies, airlines, freight forwarders, ground handlers, trucking companies and Cargo Community Systems (CCS), on data quality processes, connections challenges being faced and also how to incorporate new industry players in eCargo.

Forwarders: March 3rd is your day to learn about eAWB and data quality. There are two sessions, from 9 - 12 and 2 - 5. 

As we've said, we know that nobody can go it alone in air cargo and it is important to work with other local or national entities to help our industry. I'll be moderating one of the panels on trucking on March 2nd, so if you're coming from Chicago, you won't be alone.

For more information and to register, check out the landing page on the CNS website or you can download the eAWB flier at this link.

President’s Letter: February, 2017

The best thing I can say about February is that football ends this weekend and pitchers and catchers report later this month. We made it out the other end of what has been an absolutely dreary January for weather and complete and utter sunshine deprivation, but I'm cautiously optimistic that spring will be here before we know it.

January was a great month for the Association and I want to share with you what has transpired and what we've got an eye on in the weeks and months ahead.

What's our role?

This is something that the board has discussed on how we as the IACAC fit into the air cargo and international trade community here in Chicago. We feel that the the job that the CCBFA does on focusing on issues impacting Customs brokers, ocean freight forwarders and the import process is exemplary. We have partnered with them on a number of initiatives and will continue to do so into 2017 and beyond.

The place that seems best for us are the infrastructure and customer service issues in and around the airport. The deepening relationship with the Chicago Department of Aviation, as well as the national connections we have made at airlines and handling companies will allow us to work to improve conditions in and around the airport.

Administration change and trade.

With the arrival of a new administration comes new opinions on leadership and policy. I think that in the initial flurry of activity we have seen since the inauguration, our industry must be very carefully balanced on eagerly anticipating the potential benefits of reduced tax and regulatory burdens while watching for potential protectionist trade policies. While the focus may be on imposing burdens on imports, trade is bilateral, and we should fully anticipate that barriers America places on foreign goods coming in should expect the same treatment for our exports going out.

Joint meeting with CDOA, CNS, IACAC.

Lionel Van Der Walt, the head of Cargo Network Services (CNS) in the USA, came to Chicago at the end of January. The IACAC brokered a meeting with him and key members of the Chicago Department of Aviation, including CDOA COO John Leach and Director of Planning (and friend of the association) Adam Rod. Lionel shared some of what CNS has in store and are looking forward to forging relationships with local airports to focus on the importance of cargo to the average airline passenger who might otherwise be unaware of the important commerce traveling beneath their feet or over their heads (for those who live around airports). This will be an ongoing project that may result in some co-branded materials and other awareness pieces, but it is an interesting partnership and opportunity to be certain.

Upcoming events, activities and opportunities.

We had a great January kick-off luncheon for 2017 and are hoping to continue with a very active schedule of events. Among the things we discussed were:

  • Philanthropic activities
  • Greater focus on education, scholarship and opportunities
  • More evening social events so people can leave their offices and not have to come back.
  • Women-only events and activities.
  • Potential tours of the airport and surrounding facilities
  • Furthering and adding vendor partnerships to give our members the feeling that they're getting back what they invested (and more) in an IACAC membership.

Speaking of membership...

Join! Renew! We want you back (and want you in the first place). Membership is extremely affordable, and will provide access to a members-only area of the site which will offer links to vendor partners and opportunities to save your company money while supporting the IACAC. For individuals, the membership is only $50.00 per year; a corporate membership is for up to three people and is $130.00/year. Don't miss the chance to participate. Click the link to join or renew your membership online, or download and mail your application and payment by check today.

President’s Letter: January, 2017

Happy New Year, everyone! As my tenure as the President of the IACAC begins, I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself and talk about what I hope will happen in 2017 for the IACAC.

My name is Scott Case, and I am the President of Position : Global, a company that is focused on marketing and branding for companies in the logistics sector. I was fortunate to have been selected to design the new IACAC website several years ago and served on the Board of Directors last year. It is a pleasure to serve the Association as your President and I look forward to building on the work of the past Presidents.

2017 Events:

We are going to continue to build on the success of educational, social and professional networking events that took place in 2016. We are planning our usual series of luncheons, most of which will be held on the second Tuesday of the month. January will be an outlier because of the way the calendar is falling with everyone getting back to work and school winter vacations. We'll be on Tuesday, January 17th, so watch this space for more information.

We'll of course have our March Madness event, as well as our golf outing and holiday luncheon. There is the potential to add other events, such as bowling in Rosemont, a Wolves game or reprising some fun summer nights spent at Church Street Brewing Company.

Scholarship and giving back:

We recently learned about the young woman who won the IACAC Scholarship at Harper College this year. In the late 90's, the Association endowed a chair with nearly $10,000 in donations. We'll be telling her story in a post later this month, but what's important to know is that we are focused on scholarship this year, both our own and the ones we've endowed at Northwestern, Harper and Oakton. We are also working to create a separate 501(c)(3) charitable organization to pursue greater opportunities to raise more money to award students looking to continue their education.

Vendor partnerships to benefit IACAC members:

We value our members who spend their time to come to our events and be involved. We know it is commitment of both time and money, and want to make sure that we are delivering value. This is why in 2017 we are focused on identifying companies who serve the air cargo community and securing agreements that provide services, offer discounts or other considerations exclusive to our membership. We will have one such announcement later this month that is important for anyone who works with hazardous materials. Stay tuned.

Join or renew for 2017 today!

We'll be beating the drum for this, but with all these exciting things coming this year, don't miss out! Membership is only $50 for individuals and $130 for corporations with up to three votes and points of contact. You can do it online or do it on paper. Either way, do it today!

President’s letter: December, 2016

This is the final President's Letter that I will be penning for the website. Beginning next month, the new IACAC President, Scott Case, will take over writing this column. Scott was elected President at our elections in November and I trust he will continue the great work of the Presidents who came before him to engage the air cargo community here in Chicago. I will move into the position of Chairman of the Board.

Joining Scott will be Christina Aguirre as Vice President and our three new voting board members, Pamela DeSalvo, Laura Brown and Maureen Schmitt. Non-voting board directors elected this year are Therese O'Sullivan, Herman Ruiz and Pam Parekh. 2017 promises to be another great year for IACAC.

It has been an honor to serve as the IACAC President this year. When you stop and look at the roster of past Presidents, there are many great people who have served the Association. Thank you very much for this opportunity.

Thanks also need to go to our outgoing Chairman of the Board, Jim Wilbrandt and board member Olya Lebedyeva who are departing this year. We thank you both for your service to the Association and appreciate everything you have done.

Peak Season strong

From forecasts around the industry, there is a surprise bump in trucking demand in this last quarter and both air and sea carriers have seen some stability in rates and increases they have put in place have for the most part been holding.

Network, network, network

It was a hallmark of my tenure as President of IACAC, but I am a firm believer in networking. This year alone, IACAC held events at a baseball game, two events at Church Street Brewing and our March Madness event.

This holiday season, it looks like the calendar can get crushed with one association holiday event after the other, but these are great opportunities to keep your business networks active in case an opportunity presents itself personally or professionally.

In 2017, IACAC is going to be working to provide a mix of luncheon and evening networking events. We discovered the crowds we draw for the two events are different and new faces are able to join us more readily at night, and we are committed to cultivate the next generation of leaders.

IACAC Holiday Luncheon

Speaking of networking events, don't miss ours. It's Tuesday, December 13t,h and you can register online here. This event, as well as our golf outing, raise money for our Scholarship Fund. This year we've awarded two scholarships and have invited both of our winners to attend the luncheon.

Don't show up empty handed, either. Bring two things: An item to be raffled off (gift cards, baskets, sporting event tickets...think what you'd like to win) and an unwrapped toy for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive. We're also setting aside $5 from each ticket for our scholarship fund as well.

Finally, don't show up without a reservation. Please. Last year, we had thirty-some people registered and sixty-five people showed up. We were VERY lucky Belvedere could accommodate and feed everyone. That might not be the case this year, plus the size of the room will depend upon how many we give for a reservation count. Just click here to register.

President’s Letter: November, 2016

If you had told me at any point that we'd see baseball on the north side in November, I probably would have expressed my disbelief quite loudly. Yet here we are, the Cubs playing November baseball and a chance to win the World Series. Best of luck to them.

It has been a pleasure to serve as your President this past year and as we come up on our elections this month, I wish our slate of candidates all the best. I am excited at the people who have generously decided to donate their time on behalf of this amazing organization.

With this in mind, I'd like to look ahead to a few things we have on the schedule between now and the end of the year.

Elections luncheon next Tuesday.

That's right, the annual general meeting of the IACAC will be held and we will be holding our annual elections. The event will be held at the Wyndham Garden Elk Grove Village and you can RSVP here. You can also download the ballot at this link, and all members in good standing of the IACAC are eligible to cast a ballot.

For more information or questions about the election, contact Jim Wilbrandt, our Chaiman at jim (at) basicent (dot) com.

Oktoberfest in November on Thursday.

With thanks to our generous sponsor Alaska Air Cargo, we are holding an Oktoberfest in November event at Church Street Brewing Company, the site of our July networking event. The owners have assured us they even kept a few barrels of their Oktoberfest beer squirreled away in the corner for safe keeping and our consumption.

The Toasty Cheese truck will be making an appearance as well.

Thanks to Alaska Air Cargo, our attendees will receive a coupon for a free gourmet grilled cheese sandwich and a complimentary beer.

Don't miss your chance for a great night of networking - follow this link to register.

Scholarship application period extended through November 11th.

One of the hallmarks of the IACAC and the reason we hold events as fundraisers like our holiday luncheon and the golf outing are to raise money for the scholarship fund.

The deadline for submissions this year has been extended to November 11th, giving qualified applicants the chance to submit in time. We will notify the winners within a few weeks and ask them to make their best effort to attend our holiday luncheon next month to receive their award in person.

For more information including eligibility requirements and to apply, visit our website for all the details.

The holiday party is coming.

And with it, we're looking for raffle items and giveaways for our fundraising efforts. Last year we were fortunate to have not only a wonderful selection of prizes and airline tickets and miles, but the bins were overflowing with the gifts that our attendees generously brought to benefit the Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive.

Mark your calendars and watch your inboxes - this year's event will be held again at the Belvedere on Tuesday afternoon, December 13th. Event registration will be open soon.

Photo credit: Flickr user Dave Herholz, CC by 3.0

President’s Letter: October, 2016

There is nothing better than knowing that my Sundays are once again free of the border of having to follow Chicago's professional football team. Thankfully the retooled Bulls, the return of hockey (it's an odd-numbered year, so they're in the Cup hunt again) and the potential of an October filled with local baseball will fill the void. As my term as IACAC President nears the end, I am proud of what we've done throughout 2016 and look forward to continuing to work until the new board takes over in December.

September successes

We had two major events here in town that I hope everyone had the chance to attend. Dan Gadow, former IACAC President, current Swissport Vice President and really all-around great guy came and spoke to a crowd of nearly forty people at our September luncheon. I say this with all sincerity, there is a short list of people who have spent their careers in and around this airport who understand its inner workings and Dan is on it. The Chicago air cargo community should be grateful for Dan's leadership and his continued vocal involvement on behalf of companies and their issues.

The Airforwarders Association also held a packed-house event at Coopers Hawk in Arlington Heights on September 21st. The IACAC's Chairman of the Board Jim Wilbrandt participated in a panel discuss that featured Chicago's Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans. It was a pleasure to have leadership from the airport there to discuss our issues and it opens up a dialogue we hope continues long into the future. If you couldn't make it, they've got a gallery on their Facebook page.

October opportunities - IACAC  Scholarship and monthly luncheon

Every year, the IACAC attempts to fund a scholarship for a family member of our individual and corporate members. Last year we awarded three scholarships - we hope to have the same opportunity this year. The page is live to learn more, but the deadlines are October 30th to submit an applicationNovember 15th to be advised, December 13th to be awarded. If you know someone who has a child or grandchild starting college or is in college and would like to submit an application, visit this page on our site for all the details. Candidates should complete the application, answer the three, 600-word essay questions and submit their transcripts.

On October 18th (a week later than usual), we're featuring the annual visit of Brandon Fried of the Airforwarders Association. Forwarders usually feel the impact of a regulatory change (updates to their Security Programs, new CBP procedures) after all the rulemaking and discussions have happened. Brandon and the AfA are in the room, fighting for forwarders to keep those changes from making our lives more difficult and costly. Come out and hear from him in person what is going on with advanced data requirements, what the election could mean for trade and the state of the industry. The registration page is live so go and sign up now.

November stuff - Oktoberfest on the 3rd, Elections on the 8th

Early in November you won't be able to get enough of us still as we have a return to Church Street Brewing Company planned for November 3rd and the event is graciously being sponsored by Alaska Air Cargo. We'll have the Toasty Cheese truck back as well, so if you missed it in July, you've got another shot coming up in November. We decided "Oktoberfest in November" was a great event - because who doesn't love eating & drinking and a good Alpenhorn?

November 8th will be the monthly luncheon where elections for the IACAC Board of Directors takes place. All regular members in good standing for six months are invited to run for one of the director seats and all regular members in good standing are eligible to vote. The IACAC board meets the first Tuesday of every month in the evening and we plan luncheons and networking events as well as raise funds for our scholarship fund through the golf outing and our holiday luncheon. For more information on running for a position on the upcoming board, contact Jim Wilbrandt at jim (at) basicent (dot) com.

Hanjin bankruptcy and peak season

We're certainly seeing reshuffling of cargo on the water because Hanjin's failure at the end of August. With an estimated 20,000 - 25,000 containers per week taken out of service, there have been some GRI's reported by the remaining carriers seeking to impose some levels of rate restoration. The JOC reported a strong August with an increase of 5.6% year-on-year as the peak season approaches. Airlines as well are seeing increased load factors as some cargo trapped on the ocean is moved by air to fill orders.