President’s Letter: July, 2021

The excitement as I look ahead to this month, next month and the rest of the year is thanks to the optimism and hard work of everyone who has done their part to get vaccinated and to get things back to normal.*

*or whatever passes for it as we continue to emerge from pandemic behaviors

Here in Chicago, air cargo continues to remain busy as we see in the figures that the Chicago Department of Aviation shares with public and private sector stakeholders. There were a number of stories this week as well surrounding passenger screening figures at O'Hare and as someone who traveled for the first time post-pandemic last month, it was really an exercise in muscle memory - where to park, what luggage best fits the trip and needs and even ensuring the toiletries bag was stocked with stuff that - by and large - doesn't come with an expiration date.

For the air cargo business, July 1st was a huge day. It was the day that the new screening requirements for freighter aircraft came into effect, and that's the reason we picked it as the topic for our July luncheon featuring Lufthansa Cargo, Jeff Koehl of Global K9 Protection Group and IACAC Board Member Bill Gerst from PTS Logistics. Register now - we'll feed you this time, albeit a Panera box lunch, and it'll be a chance to talk about what's happening in a non-SSI context.

Later next week, IAC's going to the Dogs - the Chicago Dogs, specifically. Our first networking event back will be outdoors and socially distanced with the Chicago Dogs on Thursday evening. Tickets are still available as are sponsorships to help cover the event for your fellow attendees. Support the IAC, see people you've not seen for a while and we hope to see you on Thursday evening.

Most excitingly, we're golfing next month again. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 10th at the Bridges of Poplar Creek. Get your early bird foursomes booked as well because we're filling up quickly. Due to course limitations, sponsors will not be able to offer food on the course, but we will still have plenty of places for liquid libations sponsored by great companies like Alaska Air Cargo and others. Stay tuned "fore" more on sponsors - and be sure to stick around and please bring a raffle item to benefit the Scholarship Fund - because that's what this whole thing is about, anyways.

President’s Letter: May, 2021

The rollercoaster ride appears to be...continuing...for those of us in the world of logistics. Whether shipping by air, ground or ocean, rates are through the roof for our customers and in exchange for these sky-high prices, we're experiencing rock-bottom levels of service.

There has always been an uncomfortable and tenuous relationship with underlying service providers because our companies may have been the ones to select them for the service, yet regardless of how long-tenured the friendships and relationships may be, they are unable to stave off days-long delays in recovering air freight, weeks-long delays in intermodal rail movements and rates that are triple or quadruple what they were just two short years ago between common ocean freight origin and destination pairings.

If you think this is a thankless position to be in - don't. Your peers know, the experienced logistics and purchasing managers at your shippers know and the more sympathetic carrier representatives know as well. And all are grateful for your continued hard work and adaptation for now the fifteen months of hard work.

Here at the IACAC, we're looking ahead excitedly at a number of things that are happening and want you to be aware of them.

Membership harmonization: We are bringing together our CRM, our website records, our email distribution list and accounting together in a more cohesive fashion. We all use a variety of best-in-breed tools in our offices and the goal is connectivity and communication among them. We're no different.

Beginning with new memberships and renewals this year, we are moving to a membership that is one year from the date of sign-up or renewal. This was driven primarily by the fact that 97% of our memberships are paid by credit card and it was much easier to set them for annual automatic renewals.

We also have probably a dozen people and companies who thought they renewed back in January (myself included) only to discover that the membership type that was created did not charge credit cards, even though they were provided. Our treasurer Therese O'Sullivan is working hard to go through that list and if she's reached out with an invoice or a request to process your card again, that is why.

Golf news: We have been given the green-light for up to 144 golfers - the usual contingent for our annual outing. It will be held on Tuesday, August 11th at Bridges of Poplar Creek with the same usual registration and start times (shotgun at 8:30). We have been given the green light to have sponsors on the holes. The past few years we've done food and alcohol on the course and those are - for the moment - in flux. Alcohol may be staff-constrained because as our sponsors well know, course employees must pour. Right now, it looks like one hole each on the front and back, two beverage carts and the turn at the clubhouse. Registration for golf will open later in May.

A personal congratulations as well to Adam Rod from the Department of Aviation. I have had the pleasure of working with Adam for a number of years now and he has been our liaison for issues with congestion and O'Hare-related issues. This past month, Adam's position changed and his new title is Assistant Commissioner, Cargo Operations and Development. Rather than 20% of his time being spent on cargo, it will now be a full-time job with an office and support staff he must build.

Given the tremendous growth in air cargo that ORD saw during the pandemic even given the severe constriction of passenger flights but uptick in both phfreighters and freighters, an airport representative tasked with making O'Hare a better cargo experience for all stakeholders is welcome news. Congratulations, Adam.

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: August, 2016

Welcome to August. I like to think we're deep in the heart of the summer (and it has been a warm one to date, certainly) but judging from my television and the sale fliers starting to appear in my mailbox, I apparently need to get to planning the return to school of my kids later this month. Before we start having thoughts of classrooms, though, there are bigger and better concerns for our IACAC members and I wanted to share those with you today.

Last reminder: The golf outing is on August 9th.

Honestly, I know we've been drilling it into everybody's heads and we hope you're not utterly sick of hearing from us.

This is an important event because it's one of our two major fundraising activities throughout the year that raises money for our annual scholarship fund that awards money to students continuing their education. I won't bore you with the details, you can go here to read them and register, but join us to golf. If you can't join us to golf, join us for lunch. If you can't do either of those, donate something that we can raffle off to help our recipient(s) defray the cost of their education. We're not putting anybody through Harvard with a full ride, but we can certain help them with books and materials for a semester or two.

Watch this space for the IACAC Scholarship applications and questions.

Our Scholarship Committee Chair Olya Lebedyeva has come up with the list of questions for our applicants and our goal is to follow the same calendar we did last year calling for applications later in August and accepting them through October. We will announce and present the winners at our annual Holiday Luncheon.

PSS and forecast from Asia.

The Journal of Commerce reports that as retailers are gearing up for the 2016 PSS that rates on the Shanghai Containerized Index are ticking upwards. Bill Mongeluzzo reports that while the bumps in volume are not what they were during peak years (as much as a twenty percent increase in volume), retailers will still move their high-value merchandise through West Coast ports for the transit time savings it affords them versus an all-water service to the East Coast and then a return westward by rail or truck.

The importance of being active (in your networks).

As the owner of a logistics placement firm representing both employers and recruits, I stress to both sides of the equation the importance of keeping things current. Employers need to be sure their job listings are accurate and timely, otherwise individuals will feel dismayed and not trust a company who is misleading in their hunt for people. For recruits, network, make connections and stay engaged in discussions. Carve out some time each day to work through your professional social media channels, sharing things that are interesting or making new connections. Heck, if you attend any of our networking events and come home with a pocket full of business cards, you should be trying to connect with those people as soon as possible after meeting them. Add to that network because you never know when you'll need it.

Stay current because there's always an M or an A right around the corner.

M = Merger, A = Acquisition. If you've been through one (or more), you know what it is like to come out on one side or the other. Maybe your position gets retained, maybe it is eliminated because the other company's department is superior or doesn't need double the headcount. According to consulting firm PwC, while M&A activity was off in the first quarter of this year, they anticipate that low oil prices will continue to free up capital to pursue opportunities throughout the rest of 2016. You can read the story in American Shipper.

Chairman’s Letter: March, 2016

I can definitively say that this is the last one of these you'll see with my name on it. We're electing a new President this month and have a whole bunch of other things going on as well.

Special IACAC Presidential Election.

In November, we elected a President, Sam Krouse, formerly of DGM. By January, Sam had accepted a position with a shipper in Ohio and had left Chicago and the industry and relocated his family out of state. Our by-laws dictated the path we had to follow, so earlier this month we voted to accept his resignation as a board and call for a special election to fill the vacancy created by his departure.

Two candidates have entered their names for consideration, Brian Bartolotta of BCS Placement and Herman Ruiz, Jr., of Channel Distribution. You can read their bios and find out more about the voting process here. We ask that all members take a moment to cast their ballots. Think of it as good practice for later in March for the primaries and in November for the general election.

Luncheon news: March, April and a change in May.

What didn't most folks find under their trees this past holiday season? Self-balancing scooters. Mostly because they either caught fire or the CPSC got their hands on them before Santa could put them under a tree and then the house would catch fire. Importers and Customs brokers draw the most attention from the agency in cases like this, but believe it or not, those of us who carry, transport or store these things have been dragged into the discussion as well.

Without making everybody's heads implode from a regulatory onslaught, we've asked Guadalupe Whyte, CPSC's Compliance Investigator, to come and tell us just what they do, how they do it, how we're involved and give us some great examples about their enforcement activities. We'll be at the Wyndham on March 8th and attendance is limited to the first forty registrants. Don't miss your chance - seats will go quickly.

In April, we are thrilled beyond words to feature Bruce Campbell, Chairman, President and CEO of Forward Air Corporation. Bruce has been with them for more than two decades in a number of capacities and oversaw their acquisition of Towne Air Freight. Details to follow, but mark April 12th on your calendars.

Finally, starting in May, we've increased the price for walk-ups to our luncheons to $35.00 from the current $30.00. We have had a number of embarrassing situations in the past several years where we relay the number of online reservations to the venue only to have the number exceeded by two or sometimes three times. This really makes me mad. We look foolish to the hotel, we look foolish to the speaker, we inconvenience everybody by making a room more crowded and worst of all, we run the very real risk of running out of food.

The board voted to implement a change beginning in May that walk-ups without a reservation will now pay $35.00 to attend. We could have gone higher, but wanted to make the point to people that all you have to do is register. You can still pay at the door, but make a reservation to let us know you'll be there. Reservations stay open till midnight the day before, so it really isn't that inconvenient to take two minutes to share your planned attendance with us.

Tentative annual March Madness outing back in 2016.

We've done it the past few years with the Young Freight Forwarders Association (YFFA) and it has been a tremendous amount of fun. Continue to watch our site and your inbox for the details, but we're planning on holding the event on Thursday, March 17th.

Golf Outing confirmed and sponsorships selling quickly.

Tuesday, August 9th - we've even got a placeholder page here on the website. We've got multiple sponsorship opportunities including breakfast, lunch, the beverage carts, holes and this year plan to offer a whole-hole sponsorship package that includes the chance to be on the tee with a table and chairs and have a flag with your logo for the hole as well.

The Golf Committee is also looking for help as well to solicit sponsors, promote the event and help execute a lot of the behind-the-scenes planning including securing items for the luncheon raffle that benefit our IACAC Scholarship Fund.

To participate, send me an email and we'd be happy to have your involvement.

President’s letter, July 2014

Welcome to July everyone, and I hope that last night's storms only caused people lost power but no damage to their property or injuries to themselves or family.

A man looks holiday fireworksAs we get ready to head into the Independence Day weekend, this is the month where IACAC has no structured activities taking place (i.e. our regular monthly luncheon).  Tonight is our monthly board meeting at Basic Enterprises which starts at 6, and if any members wish to attend, those meetings are open to your observation.  Just let us know you're coming and we are glad to have an audience.  Be careful, you might find yourself dragged in as a volunteer for an upcoming event, such as...

The 2014 IACAC Golf Outing

It is being held next month at the Bridges of Hoffman Estates on August 12th.  Registration is open for singles ($125), foursomes ($400 or lunch guests ($35).  We have also started to receive sponsorships and you will start to see the names of those companies in the advertising we do for the event.  If you can't wait until August 12th to get a course tune-up, then may I suggest the Chicago Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association) who are holding their annual outing on the same course next week.  You can visit their site here for more details.

Sponsorship for the IACAC outing can be had for as little as $100 for a hole sponsorship which includes a sign with your logo on the tee box.  Talk to Jim Wilbrandt, our Golf Committee chair, for the primo sponsorships on the holes where golfers will back up (hint:  the par 3's are a GREAT value for your dollars!).

Dennis J. Speck Scholarship Accepting Applications Through July 25th.

Funded through the generosity of our members and guests at events such as our golf outing, monthly luncheons and annual holiday luncheon in December, the Dennis J. Speck Scholarship Fund is named for a man who gave more than two decades of service to this Association and held every position on the board.  Open to family members of individual or corporate member firms, this year's topic is "How will technology change the future of air cargo?"  You can read more at the page here on the site including additional details for eligibility and download an application.

Final call for outstanding dues.

I respect that we all get busy in our jobs.  The IACAC is a volunteer organization that is funded by the dues of our members and sponsorship opportunities online and in our monthly Pallet.  When we transitioned to this new site, we gave login credentials to everyone who were members last year.  Some of those membership are still unpaid, and tireless board member Maureen Schmitt has been working to contact people personally to get them paid or we will remove their access.

Thanks everyone and have a happy and safe Fourth.  And to our friends north of the border today...Happy Canada Day!




President’s Letter – May, 2014.

Greetings, everyone.

It finally looks like Spring has arrived in Chicago, and none too soon.  Last week according to a local meteorologist, Chicago saw three and a half total hours of sunshine during the work week.  It certainly explains my funk.

Things continue to progress with your Association.  We are proud to announce that we are nearly ninety members strong (including both companies and individuals).  As a board, we realize that people are willing to take their time and dollars to be members because of value that they feel they receive.  We are continually working to deliver that and are exploring benefits or savings with vendors who provide service to the air cargo community and we will proudly share those when they are finalized.

We want to offer you more benefits and savings than you pay in dues.  These benefits can be educational opportunities, savings on training, services or products for your business or any combination of the two.  We want to make it a no-brainer that membership in IACAC rewards you and your companies many times over.

Change in luncheon pricing starting in September.

Thank you to everyone who attends our luncheons.  As we focus on finding guest speakers that you want to hear from (last month with Linda Dreiffen from American, this month with Frank Grimaldi, Jr. from the City's Department of Aviation), our attendance is on the rise.  We experience a lot of walk-in traffic on the day of the event which can wreak havoc if we don't have enough food ordered or a large enough space to accommodate everyone.

Beginning with our September luncheon, pricing will change in two ways.

  • We are introducing member and non-member pricing.  Members will continue to pay $25.00, non-member pricing will increase by $5.00 to $30.00.  The best part is that if you join IACAC at the luncheon, you will be eligible to receive the member pricing.
  • With the new website, we have the opportunity to process payments and take RSVP's online.  You will now have two payment options; pay in advance by credit card, or pay at the door with cash, check or credit card as you have in the past ($2 surcharge for day-of credit card payments).
  • If you do not RSVP online in advance of the event, members and non-members alike will pay $30.00.  Out of respect to the venue and for the courtesy of your fellow guests, we need to have a count.

Next month's luncheon - Networking Event - June 10th.

It has been a long time since we just had an opportunity for individuals to connect, so plan to speed-date with your industry peers at a networking luncheon.  We'll explore doing something simpler with the food so folks don't feel tied to a table, but we want airlines, truckers, warehouse operators, service providers all to connect with each other.

Golf Outing - August 12th - Calling all golfers and sponsors.

We are very excited that Jim Wilbrandt of Basic Enterprise is the Chair of our Golf Committee for this year's event.  He has a lot of exciting things planned, and we're looking for sponsors who have a chance to be in front of the group of air cargo professionals in the Chicago area.  2014 IACA Golf Outing Banner

Sponsorship opportunities exist for:

  • Holes
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Refreshments
  • Carts

If you are interested, contact Jim by email at

President’s Letter, April, 2014

Let me start off by welcoming our new members this month.  March was an exciting month for IACAC. Our March Madness event was a success (check out the gallery here) and I also want to thank everyone that attended.  Special thanks as well to our co-sponsors the Young Freight Forwarders of America for having a great turnout. We also recruited a new member at the event.

Another great event was our luncheon this month. We had Linda Dreiffin from American Airlines speak about the merger and how it will affect the forwarding community.  She also educated us on the new birds they will be flying and their capacity. We were also able to meet the entire sales team for ORD for both AA and US Airways.  I want to thank Linda and her entire group for participating and interacting with our members and making it a great experience.  We are currently working together with AA to possibly start tours of their facility to show new and current members what goes on behind the scenes.

I’m looking forward to getting the air cargo community more involved with all industry professionals and I do want to also take a moment and thank all the airlines that attended this event. We had over seven airlines in attendance including Singapore Airlines and IAG Cargo to name a few. Thank you so much to all the other airlines that attended as well. We as an organization are very grateful and hope to have your continued support in future events.

We will be having a luncheon in May. The speaker will be announced shortly. I hope to see everyone there.

Bridges of Poplar CreekMark your calendars for our annual golf outing which will be held August 12th at Bridges of Poplar Creek in Hoffmann Estates.  There will be an 08:00 shotgun start. Please make sure you register and sponsor a hole. We are looking forward to a record turnout.  Reach out to Jim Wilbrandt if you have any questions.  You will be able to register via our new site, which Position: Global has been doing a great job maintaining.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone at the next luncheon and hope to see many of you register early for the golf outing. Thank you for your support of IACAC and helping to continue to grow our membership and bringing back the voices of the airlines.