One of the highlights of the 12th Annual Northeast Cargo Symposium put on by the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade (CONECT) was a farewell speech by Geoff Giovanetti, who is retiring from his longtime gig as managing director of the Wine and Spirits Shippers Association (WSSA). Giovanetti's jovial manner belies one of the sharpest minds in the business. He has a well-deserved reputation as a tough negotiator and, CONECT Counsel Peter Friedmann said, Giovanetti's efforts to counter ocean carriers' opposition to the concept of shippers associations is the main reason the buying co-ops were deemed legal and are thriving today. He was also a vocal and persistent advocate for shippers' interests as Congress formulated the Shipping Act of 1984 and the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998.
Giovanetti was one of two recipients of CONECT's "Person of the Year" award (the other was U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Tom Winkowski). In his speech, he gave an entertaining account of his career in international trade and the important regulatory changes that have reshaped the shipper-carrier relationship during that time. He left the stage after offering the following advice to importers and exporters:
Alison Leavitt, the head of Albatrans, WSSA's freight forwarding arm, is the association's new managing director.