Some locations prompt thoughts of holiday and so Greece did, with many GFG members preceding the GFG conference with a trip to the islands. It seems that Santorini was a firm favourite! However, once the conference date drew near there were more pressing matters – meeting up with GFG members, both business associates and friends.
The #GFGGreece17 saw approximately a hundred guests from across the globe arrive at the Divani Apollon Palace & Thalasso in Vouliagmeni.
The Divani certainly lived up to its title of ‘Palace’ as members enjoyed the stunning location, excellent facilities and beautiful views the hotel offered.
There were a record number of early arrivals as members made the most of the weekend in a wonderful location.
Board of Directors
The Directors settled in to the first half of the meeting on Saturday afternoon addressing issues such as new membership acquisition and website development.
The existing members are encouraged to refer reliable companies to join the GFG. Such is the trust amongst the membership, we believe their recommendations are the best ways to obtain new GFG members of quality.
This was exactly the history behind the GFG’s three latest members, two of which would be joining the GFG members in Greece for their first conference. Sadly Adekat Agencies Limited in Nigeria had tried but failed to obtain a visa. However, the GFG was ready to welcome delegates from M. E. Dey & Co Inc in Illinois and Ship-Log A/S in Denmark who would meet the Directors and then the full membership over the weekend.
Also visiting the Board of Directors’ meeting were the four prospective Directors, chosen by the existing Board members, to be voted upon by the GFG membership.
Top Left: Sandi and Sarah from M. E. Dey & Co., Inc meet the Directors, Top Right: Rasmus Rosendahl of Ship-Log A/S meets the Directors. Bottom Left: New Directors address the current Directors. Bottom Centre: Sarah Azar and Sandi Siegel from M. E. Dey & Co. Inc. Bottom Right, left to right: New Directors: George Kazouris of Grandair, Brittany Albaneso of Lee Hardeman CB, Daniela Garcia of Vogel Transport and Magnus Ejdervall of CLand Logistics.
The Board welcomed the prospective Directors and invited them to share their expectations regarding Directorship and offer their ideas for driving the GFG forward in future. It was inspiring to receive some great replies and witness the obvious enthusiasm for the role. We look forward to positive developments with the new Directors.
Above left: Rasmus introduces Ship-Log A/S to the membership. Above right: Sandi introduces M. E. Dey & Co to the members.
The General Assembly provided the first meeting point for members, with the general chatter evidence of the strong friendships. As the genuine, welcoming smiles showed the GFG at is best – a strong, all-inclusive network of friends who happen to be freight forwarders.
Once settled, the members carried out their usual role call, introducing themselves and their companies to everyone. It is perhaps this personal introduction that simultaneously puts people on the spot and yet puts them at their ease with other members.
Welcome Cocktail Party
The first social event of the members’ conference is the welcome cocktail party – a great chance to leave business behind and simply enjoy each other’s company. With a poolside location, open bar and impressive canapés, the delegates and their guests were completely at ease, relaxing and catching up. There was no need for music with the natural hum of conversation in the air.
With 1,000+ scheduled sales meetings, and no doubt many more impromptu meetings, there was certainly no shortage of business opportunities from which to benefit.
The timetable offers coded schedules for the two days, with 20 minute intervals. With so much to catch up on amongst friends as well as business associates, it’s hard to cut short the conversation. However, with lunches and coffee breaks aplenty, members make the most of the social breaks to meet also.
The buzz in the room is one of productivity and harmony – a pleasure to witness. Each party meets with smiles and warmth, whether they yet have business or are just entering into discussions.
Rachel acts as a ‘signpost’ with subtle pointing whenever anyone is unsure about with whom they are meeting. Introductions for new members and those attending their first conference is always a case of ‘service with a smile’.
Taverna Dinner and Dancing
On Monday, member enjoyed an extra social event, hosted by Grandair Ltd, the GFG’s local member in Greece. The Grandair staff joined all the GFG members to share an evening of food, music and dancing with the GFG members. Much fun was had by all!
Tuesday saw a continuation of the sales meetings with a less frenzied timetable allowing members to meet at a more leisurely pace and spend more time with any members that sought deeper discussion.
At 1615, the members all reconvened for the Closing Assembly.
It’s a perfect time to award the long-standing members for their loyalty, thank the members for attending and to present the main two awards – the President’s Award and the PK KI Operator of the Year Award.
Started during 2014, the GFG’s 20th anniversary year, the GFG continues to recognise the loyalty and longevity of its members.
GFG Member Recognition Awards
This year, there were awards for the following members:
5 Year Award for: CLand Logistics, Sweden
10 Year Award for: Hisar Lojistik, Turkey
15 Year Award for: Fast Forward Freight, the Netherlands; Levaco NV, Belgium
20 Year Award for: Airpharm Logistics, Spain; El Fady Company, Egypt; Freight Links International, Sri Lanka; Hansaeng Express Company, South Korea; Hawk Cargo, Israel; Heneways Freight Services (Pty) Ltd, South Africa; ScanGlobal, Norway; Rutherford Global Logistics, Canada; Supply Chain Optimization Aerospace and Defence, France
The President’s Award (above left) was presented to USA Cargo Services, represented by (left to right) Todd Mordecai, Richard Cope and Bill Mordecai for their long-term commitment to, and support of, the GFG. Richard Cope has been Treasurer of the GFG for almost its entire history. Furthermore, Richard, Todd, Bill and other staff have kindly hosted the casual conferences on 4 occasions, welcoming members to their city with open arms.
The PK Ki Operator of the Year Award for 2017 (above right) was awarded to Lakshmi Rampersaud of ARI Shipping in Florida. Lakshmi received the highest number of nominations from the GFG members for the quality of her service to the GFG membership throughout the year.
The final award was given as a ‘thank you’ to the GFG’s two resigning Directors (below top centre): Dave Cerasi of LSI and Ulrich Jungbluth of Globe Cargo. Both gentlemen had served two terms, a total of four years, on the Board of Directors. Although they were officially resigning, they had agreed to stay in an advisory capacity for one year, assisting with the integration and guidance of the new Directors.
Returning to a previous tradition, Jimmy Montgomery closed the meeting with his speech. After 22 years with the GFG, heading up Montgomery International, Jimmy is finally retiring. His final message to the GFG and its members was to state about the Global Freight Group that “Ir’s a good thing”. A sentiment appreciated and echoed by the GFG members.
Closing Dinner at Dionysos
Moving from Closing Assembly to the Closing Dinner at the ancient assembly place that is the Acropolis.
The dinner at Dionysos restaurant offered incredible views of the illuminated Acropolis, possibly the most iconic ancient backdrop in existence. Members enjoyed the beautiful setting and great company whilst feasting on delicate starters, delicious main courses and delightful desserts.
“Oh my, it’s early!” was the general consensus amongst the day trippers. However, the reasons were clear, not only due to the traffic into Athens itself, but due to the massive crowds that appeared when the cruise ships arrived. Suddenly the Acropolis, which had up to that point, felt quite spacious with the ability to wander and admire at leisure, changed to a seething mass of people, packed together, queuing to reach the plateau. We had indeed timed our visit well.
We left the thronging masses of populous to the mountain metropolis and headed off to the original Olympic Stadium. Again, having crowd-free space to roam members were able to appreciate the scale and symmetry of the first Olympic setting.
Plaka’s winding streets offered a completely different setting, with fascinating lanes leading off the already narrow route, inviting exploration. We wove our way to the Byzantine Taverna where we settled to replenish our energy and quench our thirst after the many steps up to the Acropolis.
Having visited the Panama Canal during last year’s conference, it seemed an interesting option to compare it by visiting the Corinth Canal. Whilst the Panama canal was an incredible feat of engineering and its vast size and ingenuity was impressive, the Corinth canal offered a complete contrast.
Corinth Canal is a narrow cutting through the 4 miles of land, connecting the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It offers an incredibly narrow but deep, with a 20 metre drop into the deep but narrow channel. With only the difference in tidal currents to offer any force of movement, the passage is 40 minutes in one direction and about 2 hours in the other.
Looking towards the Gulf of Corinth
After the canal, members visited Ancient Corinth and, led by the entertaining guide, Catherine, learnt about Corinth’s origins.
With a longish journey back to Vouliagmeni, there were a few sleepers evident, the early start taking its toll…
With #GFGGreece17 officially over, it was time for members to return to their particular part of the globe, rejuvenated by their meeting with like-minded, supportive colleagues. Friends in business.
Next year it’s New York. Why not come along to the Big Apple with us? #GFGNYC18