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Mallory looks east

Memphis-based logistics provider Mallory Alexander International Logistics has its sights firmly fixed on China for the next phase of its international growth, as Helen Massy-Beresford discovers

Mallory Alexander International Logistics is a fifth-generation full-service logistics provider based in Memphis, Tennessee – but for the next stage of its growth, the company is expanding its horizons on the other side of the world: China.


Founded in 1925, Mallory Alexander has a long history to draw upon as it begins to gear up for the next phase of its growth.


The logistics and supply chain specialist, which offers services in customs brokerage, domestic and international freight forwarding, NVOCC, warehousing as well as Foreign Trade Zone operations and consulting, has recently obtained a Class A business licence from the Chinese government for operations centred in Shanghai.


It plans to continue its expansion outside the US, where it already has branches in Mexico, Hong Kong and Shenzen, China.


Joe Grimme, Vice President of Domestic Operations, has been with Mallory Alexander since 2003, the latest move in a career spanning air and ocean freight. Before Mallory Alexander he worked for Airborne Express.


The company, with its fiscal year running from August to July, has seen plenty of growth in that time, although while January was a good month, February and March were “sort of flat”, Grimme says.


“A good mix of our services is US domestic, which is sort of a different category. We are an asset-free broker when it comes to domestic services. With the fall of fuel prices and the downturn of the trucking industry in general, a lot of the shippers lean towards asset-based carriers in times like this.”


The company is in demand in the entertainment sector, handling the packaging and distribution to cinemas around the world of giveaway items for new film releases. Elsewhere in the business, retail and consumer goods also account for a portion of its sales.


“A lot of what we’re leaning towards right now is end-to-end logistics, managing the entire supply chain, moving goods from vendors to hubs, distribution centres and to the customer’s door. A growing segment of customers is using us for the complete supply chain and using our systems for visibility. Goods might move via air freight from one country, then ocean from another. They might come into the destination centre, reconfigure and then deliver back out.”


The company has had some high-profile customers, moving fine arts and other exhibits around protected by custom-built crates – taking care of things like Fabergé eggs, items from an exhibition on the Titanic, or even some Elvis
Presley memorabilia.


The company also relies extensively on commodities for its trucking, warehousing and export activities in the US. Cotton exports – many of which go to China – have been very soft this year, says Grimme. The company’s US domestic business also includes express services and warehousing. At the moment, this accounts for around two fifths of its activities, compared with three fifths for the international market. “Optimistically they will remain at a 40/60 split, with both managing growth,” he adds.


The Chinese market itself is performing well, insists Grimme. “Things are going very well there, more from an ocean freight standpoint, but air freight has been very good for us too – it’s growing.”


This is of course in the context of a long-term move away from air freight towards ocean-based shipping. “Everyone wants to avoid the cost of air freight if they can,” says Grimme. “The delta between cost of ocean freight and air freight is too wide.”  >>

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