Quay Shipping, a full member of Shipping Australia, recently celebrated 15 years in business! Congratulations Quay!
The Brisbane-based company, which has offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland, acts as agents for Pacific Forum Line and Sinotrans Container Line.
We sat down with the Founder and Managing Director, Darren Dumbleton, to find out more about Quay.
Can you tell us about the business of Quay Shipping?
Quay Shipping Australia is a full service container liner agency company. Additionally, we have acted for project vessel owners and charterers, providing commercial, cargo management and vessel operations services.
What are the best aspects of Quay Shipping?
Besides having two great principals in Sinotrans Container Line and Pacific Forum Line, our people are the best thing about Quay. We have developed a culture of family, trust and respect.
Quay Shipping has been in business for about 15 years. How has the company grown and evolved over that time?
Quay commenced its business as Quay Solutions Australia. Our goal was to focus on (a) shipping liner agency, (b) steel import and export supply chain logistics, and (c) project logistics.
Our shipping agency business grew quicker than expected and consumed our growth strategies. In 2010 we split the shipping agency business and the freight, customs and logistics business into two separate companies: Quay Shipping Australia and SILA Global. We wanted to create an environment where each company could individually focus and develop its core business.
What are some the best highlights of the company from the last 15 years?
Too many highlights to mention. Securing the agency for China Shipping in Western Australia, and Seacorp Coastal east coast agents in our first year (2006). Securing the Sinotrans Container Line appointment in 2008 and Pacific Forum Line 2010.
We have also made some significant contributions to industry. Quay was the first shipping agency /line to issue an EDO in Australia and possibly in the world. We also worked with 1-Stop and WiseTech in the development of “Compay”, and were the first company to have a fully integrated payments systems for the release of EDO.
Why and how was the company started?
I’ve been in the industry since leaving school at 17, eventually becoming a partner in a freight forwarding company. My responsibilities included liner contract negotiations. I travelled a lot, and I kept hearing rumours of potential new entry in the Australian market. There appeared to me to be a void in the container liner agency segment. If a new entrant were to come, it would have had a limited choice of liner agents. The goal was to create a company that would be ready for those opportunities.
What are your personal best memories of working for the company?
We had to run on the sniff of an oily rag. On our first trips to China we travelled economy on Southern China via Guangzhou to Shanghai (eventually). We stayed in cheap hotels! But we built relationships which have developed into long-term friendships. My own team and the Sinotrans team have created wonderful memories and stories. Likewise with Pacific Forum Line.
Who would you particularly like to recognise for their work at Quay and SILA over the last 15 years?
Quay is very fortunate to have 10-year-plus team members; Richard Hammond, Joe Eaton, Katrina English, Andrea Dicks, Deb Joss, Courtney McGregor, Chris Sharman, Peter Murphy, John Taylor, Daphne Thomsen, Stella Maravelias and Richard Davis providing valuable service and experience to our younger staff, customers and principals.
Additionally, some ex-Quay team members have taken career opportunities at SILA Global and have a combined 10 years or more at both companies, Jason Stockwell, Michele Hart, Phil Quaile and Kylie Whiting.
We set out to create a culture of family, trust and respect. These people amplify the culture we have created, as we continue to position ourselves as a highly customer-focused organisation.
What do you see the company doing for the next 15 years?
Our focus is to continue meeting and exceeding our principals’ and customers’ expectations. We will continue to develop synergies to meet our customers’ and principals’ objectives. We look to develop niche liner opportunities in non-competing principal market segments.
What is the biggest challenge for Quay in the next 15 years?
My major concerns for lines calling in Australia is the outcome of the review of Part X.
Stringent regulation of the industry by Government will reduce the appetite of new entrants to the trade and, as a result, will drive down competition and increase costs.
Among the biggest challenges now for new lines is the cost and difficulty of doing business with Australia (ports, government regulations, unions). There is better business, and more opportunities in the Inter-Asia trade, and other developing trades, than Australia.
Besides Zim Lines re-entering there has not been a new line calling at Australia for a very long time. I’m perplexed that some groups are lobbying for more regulation and tighter control over what is, and will continue to be, a small north-south market.
Container shipping liner business is a highly competitive market. Huge capital investment is required by lines to overhaul fleet, vessel and container. Fleet upgrades will be highly focused on emissions targets and fuel used by ships. These assets will be deployed into markets which provide the best return on investment.
What was the most amusing mistake that Quay has made in the last 15 years?
After several, delayed flights missed connections, missed meetings, lost bags, non-turn up of aircraft, bad weather and general stress we stopped flying China Southern, and minimised all air travel in China!
What’s the biggest short-term issue for the Australian maritime and logistics industries right now?
Global supply chains are under enormous pressure.
October 2020 was predicted to be freight Armageddon but the predicted freight cliff did not eventuate. Actually, the reverse happened and we have a freight mountain.
Unprecedented demand, bad weather, union industrial action and COVID-related operational restrictions has resulted in massive issues in Australia and throughout the world. It is going to take time for the situation to resolve.
What’s the biggest medium-term issue for the Australian maritime and logistics industries?
I think the pandemic has highlighted major issues:
Industrial relations: ports and port workers are an essential service to the Australian public.
Landside supply chain: importers and exporters mainly operate their R&D 7am – 4pm Monday to Friday. If cargo is only being physically handled in or out of a container, 7am- 4pm, that process will keep contributing to congestion within the container supply chain. This segment needs to expand its operational hours to spread demand outside of peak hours and keep step with 24/7 shipping line, port and container park operations.
What’s the biggest long-term issue for the Australian maritime and logistics industries?
Privatised city ports: the cost of doing business, access to better infrastructure, and development of competition between ports.
PART X: I’ve read submissions from industry lobby groups that are seeking regulation and dismantling of certain parts of Part X. Should those outcomes be achieved, it will only reduce competition amongst shipping lines.
Weakening consortia, and the ability for consortia to negotiate jointly with suppliers based on vessel-operational matters, will reduce competition.
Australia is one of the most expensive countries to service.
What one message would you give to the Australian logistics industry?
Self-serving advocacy, finger-pointing and hostile language is not serving any part of the industry well.
Unfounded shipping line-bashing is only highlighting how little people understand shipping, the cost to operate a service and the drivers to develop new services.
The shipping industry has been very transparent and engaging via giving interviews and explanations on critical current matters.
However, it is disappointing that such goodwill seems to be in vain, when those craving a headline act like shock jocks to fuel their own business and agenda.
The whole industry needs to look at what it can do to create better outcomes. This includes cost recovery for services provided. It also includes how certain segments of the industry continue to conduct their business, especially operating hours for R&D, importers, exporters, transport companies and those empty parks (not operating beyond 7am – 4pm) have more to contribute.
Editor’s note: the answers supplied by Quay Shipping have been lightly edited for the purposes of house style.