“Go West, Young Man”
Congratulations. Willson International is now active in British Columbia. When did you open?
Our Richmond, BC office opened January 4th 2016. We have 2 full time Account Executives, Jacob Froude and Dena Conwright, who have been operating since July 2015. They are supported by two inside sales reps. Mark Van Roon, the Senior Regulatory Analyst, and Adam Scobie, the Branch Manager, are now in place in the Richmond office.
What are the success factors? Why has Willson lasted 100 years?
Willson International has three key success factors. A customer-centric approach to both excellence and continuous improvement, the courage to take risks, and a committed corporate culture that puts “Family First.” Our values directly impact our three biggest assets: technology, information and people; what I call TIP.
The westward expansion comes at a time when some may shy away. How are you able to expand when others aren’t?
We have a long history to rely on, and the competitive advantage of being a private family company. Being a fourth generation business we know that the world will always experience the ebb and flow of economic expansion and retraction. We survived the great depression and every economic cycle since.
Why is being a private company a competitive advantage?
It permits us to remain agile, innovative, and focus on the long term. We are not afraid to try new things, we embrace change and we are willing to look in uncommon places for new ideas.
Why are you going West?
The opening of the Vancouver branch represents continuation of the vision of the founder, my great-grandfather, William Willson. His vision was to provide excellent service to a growing international trade market. Vancouver has always been an important gateway for Pacific Rim trade, and with the recent agreement on TPP this will only increase (assuming it is ratified.) Willson has specialty in some of the markets directly impacted by TPP, and we can bring that expertise to the Vancouver market. Plus, now I have an excuse to visit Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
When did the journey start?
It began 100 years ago when my great-grandfather 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 US industrial heartland.
It is interesting to draw a parallel here. While the West coast has always been a dynamic trading area, we are anticipating a new, exciting period of growth in trade resulting from the recent TPP agreement.
What are some examples?
Our most recent innovations include the development of cutting edge web, technology and electronic systems. Customs is like every other industry; technology is rapidly changing the game.
While state of the art technology is critical, we continue to keep our focus on the customer. We are always looking for ways to improve our execution, and our service. Obviously I can’t disclose details, but it is very exciting.