A freight forwarder specializes in handling shipments for other companies or individuals. Traditionally, freight forwarders handled exports. They helped clients understand all the documentation requirements and made sure all paperwork was properly completed and filed on time. The forwarder also employed an agent in the destination country, who handled the shipment on the receiving end and watched out for the client’s interest. Today, freight forwarders still manage the export process, but they can also handle shipping entirely within one country.
Forwarders are usually non-asset-based: in other words, a forwarder probably doesn’t own any ships or trucks, but would contract out those services to other companies as needed. Contracting keeps the forwarder’s cost low and offers maximal flexibility to find the most appropriate shipping solution for any situation. Forwarders move freight by air, sea, road and rail, and they are always looking for the best price, fastest speed, and greatest reliability of carriers.
According to the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), there are about 40,000 forwarding and logistics firms worldwide. These firms are also known as the Architects of Transport, and they employ 8 to 10 million people in 150 countries.
Freight forwarding involves a lot more than shipping. Forwarders have to be continuously aware of the changing political climate in different countries. They have to keep up-to-speed on exchange rates and credit practices. They must be able to apply information technology to customer needs. They have to understand the best way to negotiate deals and look out for their clients.
According to FIATA, the freight forwarding industry is a good opportunity for people who enjoy working with others and helping businesses succeed and grow. Interested candidates should have a sense of adventure and be able to work under pressure and with constant change, be able to study while working, and be computer savvy.
Since freight forwarders usually don’t have their own means of shipping, they are always looking for companies that are able to provide reliable service and affordable pricing. This need creates opportunities for owner-operators and freight hauling companies. Some examples of freight forwarding companies include Wells Cargo, Forward Direct, Twoway Aramex, Phoenix International and Tobin Shipping and Transport.