Willson International has been helping businesses simplify cross-border shipping since 1918. We talked to V.P. Sales, Jack Langelaan, about the move to B.C. and further expansion plans
Why did Willson International expand to British Columbia?
Entering the Vancouver market in July of 2015 represented continuation of the vision of our founder, William Willson. His vision was to provide excellent service to a growing international trade market.
Vancouver is an important gateway for trade in both the Pacific Rim and the United States. Today the Vancouver Port supports 20% of Canadian trade and over 98,000 jobs. Willson specializes in some of B.C.’s most important markets, including lumber, produce and food manufacturing.
When did Willson’s journey start?
It began almost 100 years ago, in 1918, when William Willson opened the first Canadian customs brokerage office at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie. He had a reputation for excellent service, and we benefitted from the tremendous growth of trade between Ontario and the U.S. industrial heartland. It is interesting to draw a parallel here. While the West Coast has always been a dynamic trading area, B.C. is experiencing exciting growth. Exports increased over 8% in 2016.
When did you open in British Columbia?
Our Sales team began in July 2015, and our Richmond, B.C. office opened in January 2016. We have an outstanding team in place to support the growth we are experiencing. To optimize customer service, we have two Account Executives, Gina Jackson and Dena Conwright, who are supported by two Inside Sales Representatives, Sheela Barot and Jonathan Forrester. Mark Van Roon is the Senior Regulatory Analyst in our Vancouver office, and Adam Scobie, is the Branch Manager.
What are the success factors? Why has Willson lasted 100 years?
We are a family owned, private company with a people-centric culture. Being family owned permits us to remain agile, innovative and focus on the long term. We have three key success factors:
1) a customer-centric approach to both excellence and continuous improvement;
2) the courage to take risks, and; 3) a committed corporate culture that puts “Family First.” Our values directly impact our three biggest assets: technology, information and people; what we call TIP.
What is a recent example of innovation?
Our most recent innovation is the development of a web-based program that reduces time and effort for shippers, especially in the produce and timber industry. It enhances our integration capability with our clients’ data flow, manages E-manifest and is FSVP ready. Customer feedback has been excellent.
The success of both our existing operation in B.C. and our International Logistics Services based in Toronto, has created a need for us to further expand our presence on the West Coast. We’ll be expanding our B.C. team by about 5 people over the coming months, which will allow us to meet the needs of new and existing customers domestically, internationally and cross-border. While continuous innovation in technology is critical, our focus is on the customer. We are always looking for ways to improve our execution, and our service. Obviously I can’t disclose all the details, but it is a very exciting time.