The chaotic business conditions of 2020 tested the resilience of global logistics providers, but most supply chains have kept on humming throughout it all, helping to stock food in Americans’ refrigerators, cupboards, and ovens as the nation approaches Thanksgiving, an executive with container carrier CMA CGM Group said Tuesday.
The Covid-19 pandemic was just one pothole in a bumpy road that also required the French container transportation and shipping giant to pivot nimbly between challenges in business administration, e-commerce demand, and a malware attack by hackers.
“This year has been rough,” Ed Aldridge, president at CMA CGM (America) and APL North America, said in a briefing. “Everybody [at CMA CGM North America] worked virtually from March onward, in July we aligned our two brands to dedicate CMA CGM as our commercial business and APL for the U.S. military, customers’ buying patterns changed and that hit us in June and July, and in September we had a cyber attack. That hurt us, but we recovered very quickly.”
Additional hurdles made those challenges even harder, as wildfires ravaged California and the Gulf Coast region endured one of the busiest hurricane seasons in a century, but like most U.S. businesses, the company converted its operations to virtual platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype. “With covid and the fires and all these disasters, we stayed very close to our clients, and that’s the most important thing; stay close to the client and tell them what’s going on,” he said.
As the bottom line measure of that success, he pointed to the company’s third quarter financial results, as corporate revenue reached $8.1 billion, an increase of 6.3% over the same period last year. The company also carried a greater volume of freight for the quarter, rising 16.8% from the previous quarter and 1% compared with the third quarter of 2019.
Now, as world health groups begin to plan for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines that may signal an end to the pandemic, CMA CGM says that some of the changes it made to survive the crisis may be permanent. “It improved communication between associates [employees of CMA CGM] because we had more meetings and did more information sharing, and that was true with our customers as well,” Aldridge said. “It’s difficult to attract new clients during a pandemic year, but you can support deeper communication with your existing clients.”
In addition to its employees and clients, CMA CGM also gives credit to its business partners such as terminal laborers, dockworkers, railroads, and truckers, who continued to distribute cargo “through thick and thin,” Aldridge said.
And as another sign of success in the tail end of a year of challenges, the company is highlighting its recent philanthropic efforts, including the donation of: 10,000 turkeys to recipients in maritime hubs like Lake Charles, Louisianna, Houston, Los Angeles, Nashville, Tennessee, and Norfolk, Virginia; thousands of Thanksgiving meals donated to charitable food distributions across the country; the coordination of U.S. ground transportation for turkey distributions by CMA CGM Group subsidiary CEVA Logistics; and the donation of Thanksgiving food boxes for U.S. troops and their families by CMA CGM Group subsidiary APL, in coordination with the United Services Organization (USO).
The company has also partnered with South Carolina’s SC Ports and with charitable group The Salvation Army of Charleston to distribute more than 500 Thanksgiving meals to those in need in the Charleston, South Carolina, region.
“CMA CGM plays a critical role in driving the U.S. economy forward, and it is an honor to be able to give back to communities across America, especially during such a challenging time,” Aldridge’s said in a release. “While Covid-19 has fundamentally shifted how many American families will celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we are very proud to be providing a bit of ‘home’ to those in need this holiday season by donating turkeys and special Thanksgiving meals nationwide.”
Launching our #35kmealsforAmericans campaign!— CMA CGM Group (@cmacgm) November 13, 2020
Over the next two weeks, we will distribute 10,000 turkeys and thousands of meals to families in need >https://t.co/nmb0QTYm6H
Kicking things off today at Lake Charles!#Thanksgiving pic.twitter.com/1oPlVkeLFk