PHILLIP SCHWAB USED TO MONITOR nuclear power levels for Navy vessels. Now he has a slightly more stressful job as global freight forwarder Panalpina's man-in-charge of moving Dell Computers' shipments to and through Latin America. Gone are the days when firms like Panalpina could just push the box through customs and call it a day Increasingly these companies are charged with thinking outside the box to administer everything from warehousing and customs to transport and tracking for multiple origins and destinations. Schwab, 36, spoke to LATIN TRADE Associate Editor Michael Fabey about the changing market and his new assignment.
What is your job like today?
A Visa card with a holographic image. You turn it one way and it says one thing. You turn it another, and it says something else. Sure I wear a Panalpina hat, but if you look at it another way, it could say Dell.
How do you deliver Dell's made-to-order computers?
It's like one of these hamburger places where the burger is not made until you order it. We have to know what's being made where and when to get the cargo to one place or another, We have to be involved in every step of the process, from warehousing to production to distribution.
Where do you feel the most pressure?
The ability to trace shipments is very important. Time is money and cargo in transit is cash out on the street. It's almost like dead money. Companies don't want to have" inventory" any more. It's almost a dark word.
Where do the complications arise?
In many places, the [shipment] information has to be input...