President’s Letter: July, 2021

The excitement as I look ahead to this month, next month and the rest of the year is thanks to the optimism and hard work of everyone who has done their part to get vaccinated and to get things back to normal.*

*or whatever passes for it as we continue to emerge from pandemic behaviors

Here in Chicago, air cargo continues to remain busy as we see in the figures that the Chicago Department of Aviation shares with public and private sector stakeholders. There were a number of stories this week as well surrounding passenger screening figures at O'Hare and as someone who traveled for the first time post-pandemic last month, it was really an exercise in muscle memory - where to park, what luggage best fits the trip and needs and even ensuring the toiletries bag was stocked with stuff that - by and large - doesn't come with an expiration date.

For the air cargo business, July 1st was a huge day. It was the day that the new screening requirements for freighter aircraft came into effect, and that's the reason we picked it as the topic for our July luncheon featuring Lufthansa Cargo, Jeff Koehl of Global K9 Protection Group and IACAC Board Member Bill Gerst from PTS Logistics. Register now - we'll feed you this time, albeit a Panera box lunch, and it'll be a chance to talk about what's happening in a non-SSI context.

Later next week, IAC's going to the Dogs - the Chicago Dogs, specifically. Our first networking event back will be outdoors and socially distanced with the Chicago Dogs on Thursday evening. Tickets are still available as are sponsorships to help cover the event for your fellow attendees. Support the IAC, see people you've not seen for a while and we hope to see you on Thursday evening.

Most excitingly, we're golfing next month again. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 10th at the Bridges of Poplar Creek. Get your early bird foursomes booked as well because we're filling up quickly. Due to course limitations, sponsors will not be able to offer food on the course, but we will still have plenty of places for liquid libations sponsored by great companies like Alaska Air Cargo and others. Stay tuned "fore" more on sponsors - and be sure to stick around and please bring a raffle item to benefit the Scholarship Fund - because that's what this whole thing is about, anyways.

President’s Letter: May, 2021

The rollercoaster ride appears to be...continuing...for those of us in the world of logistics. Whether shipping by air, ground or ocean, rates are through the roof for our customers and in exchange for these sky-high prices, we're experiencing rock-bottom levels of service.

There has always been an uncomfortable and tenuous relationship with underlying service providers because our companies may have been the ones to select them for the service, yet regardless of how long-tenured the friendships and relationships may be, they are unable to stave off days-long delays in recovering air freight, weeks-long delays in intermodal rail movements and rates that are triple or quadruple what they were just two short years ago between common ocean freight origin and destination pairings.

If you think this is a thankless position to be in - don't. Your peers know, the experienced logistics and purchasing managers at your shippers know and the more sympathetic carrier representatives know as well. And all are grateful for your continued hard work and adaptation for now the fifteen months of hard work.

Here at the IACAC, we're looking ahead excitedly at a number of things that are happening and want you to be aware of them.

Membership harmonization: We are bringing together our CRM, our website records, our email distribution list and accounting together in a more cohesive fashion. We all use a variety of best-in-breed tools in our offices and the goal is connectivity and communication among them. We're no different.

Beginning with new memberships and renewals this year, we are moving to a membership that is one year from the date of sign-up or renewal. This was driven primarily by the fact that 97% of our memberships are paid by credit card and it was much easier to set them for annual automatic renewals.

We also have probably a dozen people and companies who thought they renewed back in January (myself included) only to discover that the membership type that was created did not charge credit cards, even though they were provided. Our treasurer Therese O'Sullivan is working hard to go through that list and if she's reached out with an invoice or a request to process your card again, that is why.

Golf news: We have been given the green-light for up to 144 golfers - the usual contingent for our annual outing. It will be held on Tuesday, August 11th at Bridges of Poplar Creek with the same usual registration and start times (shotgun at 8:30). We have been given the green light to have sponsors on the holes. The past few years we've done food and alcohol on the course and those are - for the moment - in flux. Alcohol may be staff-constrained because as our sponsors well know, course employees must pour. Right now, it looks like one hole each on the front and back, two beverage carts and the turn at the clubhouse. Registration for golf will open later in May.

A personal congratulations as well to Adam Rod from the Department of Aviation. I have had the pleasure of working with Adam for a number of years now and he has been our liaison for issues with congestion and O'Hare-related issues. This past month, Adam's position changed and his new title is Assistant Commissioner, Cargo Operations and Development. Rather than 20% of his time being spent on cargo, it will now be a full-time job with an office and support staff he must build.

Given the tremendous growth in air cargo that ORD saw during the pandemic even given the severe constriction of passenger flights but uptick in both phfreighters and freighters, an airport representative tasked with making O'Hare a better cargo experience for all stakeholders is welcome news. Congratulations, Adam.

President’s Letter: December, 2020

To begin, on behalf of the IACAC Board of Directors, we want to wish everyone a very happy holiday season. In a year unlike any other, this is the time of year that between the pandemonium which shows no sign of abating until well into 2021, we can find a few moments to stop, say "thank you" and breathe around those we love.

If you had asked me in January to write the year-end summary assuming a "cut-copy-paste" of previous years, it would've included a successful outing, member engagement and networking and working together to educate and bring on new members.

But...that's not the year we got.

As we look ahead to 2021, two approved vaccines and the timetable when we can expect to all be vaccinated, we're looking quite honestly at the summer before we can safely resume our in-person activities.

To that end, our webinars will be free because we would like people to be engaged. A number of people have expressed an interest in knowing more about vaccine logistics and what ORD is doing and we're reaching out to a few people to speak to just that - people in our Association who are playing a role in getting front-line and at-risk workers vaccinated as quickly as possible.

The loss of our golf outing and holiday luncheon meant the fundraising engine for our scholarships sat idle this year - but it's not too late. We've picked two winners and will notify them in January - but we'd like to do so with some more money to award them.

You can mail us a check if you'd like, or donate online directly to the Scholarship Fund. $25, $50, $100 - whatever you can give. This money goes right to our scholarship recipients and through no fault of theirs should we not be able to do for our two winners what we normally do in a regular year. Click here to donate.

The Annual General Meeting at which we hold elections is also running behind because of the pandemic. It will be held on Tuesday, January 12th and if you're interested in running, reach out to Brian Bartolotta and send him a headshot and a bio. We've got three - possibly four - positions available for voting directors.

Thanks to everyone for your patience, and we hope to see you all back as members in 2021 when we do everything we can to make up for lost time.

President’s Letter: October, 2020

First and foremost, I hope that this message finds everyone healthy and that their family and friends are feeling the same.

Second, everyone in this industry who is going to work every day and keeps commerce flowing and is frantically scaling up and getting ready for the inevitable onslaught of vaccine delivery and distribution - thank you. On behalf of a grateful nation - and really, grateful world - the people doing this for a living are doing so in plain sight but without the slightest awareness of the public how much they should be appreciated.

Here at the I.A.C.A.C., our board has been meeting regularly, but we've adopted a month-by-month approach to events on our calendar because, quite honestly, we're at the mercy of public health authorities and what just makes good safe sense for our members.

As a board, we carry officers & directors liability insurance, sure, but it doesn't mean we feel like testing the limits of that policy were someone to get sick - or worse - at an event we were holding.

For fans of the show Futurama, it's essentially putting Fry on ice for a few thousand years and coming back out, except in our case it's most likely going to be more like a year and a half (read: early next summer) before it is sufficiently safe to bring large numbers of people together.

Because of the fluidity, we want to bring you up to speed on the rest of 2020 and what we're looking for to 2021.

The scholarship needs YOUR help.

The IACAC Scholarship Fund is filled every year by our golf outing and holiday party. These two events, the money we raise from sponsorships and the generosity of our attendees in buying raffle tickets bring in thousands of dollars which we then award in scholarships.

This year, with no golf outing, we're asking people who usually attend and bring items to donate to just make a cash contribution instead.

The association has set up an entirely separate bank account and 501(c)(3) corporation to receive and disburse the donations as scholarships. If you would normally spend $50 or $100 (or more!) on raffle items, we ask that you consider donating us that amount in cash instead. We can accept payment via check or credit card and you'll be sent a copy of our IRS letter you can use to declare it a charitable donation on your corporate or personal income tax (speak to your tax preparer to confirm this for your individual filing needs).

IACAC Holiday Party: Stay tuned

We might as well let it out that this year, we were really excited to be changing venues to Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant in Arlington Heights and had planned our Holiday Luncheon for Tuesday, December 8th. Conversations last week with the restaurant's event team highlighted that the current limit in the state of Illinois is 50 people - and we'd booked a room with 100 person capacity.

Beside the fact we'd be upside down on the event, we also don't know what the current level of openness will be based on COVID infection rates at the time. We're leaning to what people in the events sector are calling a "lift and shift" and moving it wholesale (with our deposit) into 2021. Stay tuned for communications on that.

Notional 2021 calendar

Pending the resumption of other in-person events which might conflict for our members (like CNS or other major trade shows), we have tentative planned the following schedule.

  • January 12th - Educational event or webinar
  • February 9th - Educational event or webinar
  • March 9th - Educational event or webinar
  • April 13th - Educational event or webinar
  • May 11th - Educational event or webinar
  • June 8th - Educational event or webinar
  • July 13th - Educational event or webinar
  • August 10th - ANNUAL IACAC GOLF OUTING
  • September 14th - Educational event or webinar
  • October 12th - Educational event or webinar
  • November 9th - Elections
  • December 14th - ANNUAL IACAC HOLIDAY LUNCHEON

We're extremely grateful of the support of our sponsors and members through 2020 and are looking forward to finding ways to deliver more member value and greater opportunities for our sponsors moving through the rest of this year and into 2021.