NOVEMBER 2021 - An interview with CONECT
Meet a CONECT Partner: A. N. Deringer
Customs broker and freight forwarder A.N. Deringer Inc. started small (hay processing) and rural (St. Albans, Vt., pop. 6,900, close by Lake Champlain and the U.S.-Canada border). Today the family-owned company, the largest privately-held Customs broker in North America, is still headquartered in St. Albans but has more than 30 offices throughout the United States. In addition to Customs brokerage and freight forwarding, Deringer also offers warehousing and distribution solutions and import/export meat inspection.
We talked with President and CEO Jake Holzscheiter, a Licensed Customs Broker and Certified Customs Specialist, about his career (it’s all in the family), Deringer’s business philosophy, and why the company, a CONECT Silver Partner, has been a longtime supporter of the organization.
Q: A.N. Deringer is headquartered in Northern Vermont. Are you a native of the area? If not, where did you grow up, and how did you end up on the Canadian border?
A: No, I am not a native, but I have lived in Vermont since I was 2½. The company was founded over 100 years ago here in St. Albans (right around the corner from our current headquarters) by my great-uncle, Alfred Neel Deringer. In the very beginning, the company owned and operated a hay grading and storage facility along the rail lines less than an hour from the Canadian border.
Q: How did you first get involved in international trade and transportation? How long have you worked in the field?
A: I suppose you could say I was raised in this industry! My father got me involved in the business as soon as I was old enough to shovel snow on the sidewalks by the office before I went to school. I started to get exposed to the business side of things when I was 15, working summers and vacations, so I’ve been involved for over 35 years.
Q: What are your current job responsibilities?
A: I have worked in literally every area of our business, but I view my current responsibilities as preserving and protecting our culture and 100-year-old legacy. Practically speaking, that means delivering to our customers exceptional service and compliance assistance and trying to provide our amazing and dedicated employees with a safe and rewarding work environment. With those two main objectives at the forefront, my activities include a broad and dynamic range of work. I purposely stay very involved with our clients, keep up with the changing regulatory environment, and work with our management team to support our operations and technology initiatives.
Q: What types of customers does your company serve? Do you target specific industries or types of clients?
A: We try to support and assist organizations who seek long-term partners and possess a commitment to compliance. That encompasses companies of all sizes with a very broad range of commodities and international trade needs.
Q: What differentiates your company from others in your industry segment?
A: We believe in providing customized service and personal attention to our clients. That means we conform to our customer's business models and approach instead of forcing our clients to adhere to our procedures. We tailor our methods, communication, and technology applications to fit our clients’ needs and preferences. We often say this is a “one size does not fit all” model.
Across the company, we also have very active participation and leadership in industry organizations like CONECT. We strive to remain at the forefront of emerging developments and the changing regulatory landscape consistently – and to communicate that knowledge and experience among our customers and ourselves. We believe it fosters true partnership and improves business performance for all, customers and employees alike.
Q: Please tell us about a recent achievement or innovation you are proud of.
A: I am immensely proud of the level of commitment and perseverance displayed by the employees of Deringer in the past 20 to 24 months. Everyone pulled together and took a leap of faith in very short order. This allowed us to pivot quickly from being a brick-and-mortar operation to a flexible and remote workforce. Demand for our services jumped, and the team responded and far exceeded our expectations. I am so proud and humbled by what Deringer employees have accomplished since early 2020.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you are currently seeing in your industry, and how are you addressing them?
A: Certainly, the unprecedented supply chain challenges spurred by the pandemic and its continuous movement around the globe are well documented. We are all right in the thick of it, trying to balance the short-term need for immediate solutions with the anticipated long-term impacts and changes that will emerge in the next few years. We examine those challenges and try to adapt every day.
In addition to those global challenges, I think the biggest challenge we will see is increased regulation and complexity tied to additional responsibility and higher risks for non-compliance.
A consistent theme we are turning to is the importance of investing in our technology applications. This includes incorporating intense cybersecurity and backup measures to keep trade flowing consistently, quickly, and safely for our customers and our company. This reliance on technology is both a problem solver and a unique challenge in and of itself.
Q: A.N. Deringer has a long history. What are your main plans for the future, and why are they a priority?
A: Whenever I look back or ahead, I turn to Deringer’s Core Values. We will continue to adhere to the basic principles of providing outstanding customer service and personalized attention, serving clients with integrity, innovation, passion, accountability, and value. These tenets serve as a touchstone for all of us at Deringer – they have served us well for 100 years – and I believe they will continue to guide our decision-making in the next 100. Ensuring the longevity of the organization means we must keep focused on investing in our employees, their expertise, and our technology, as well as keeping the laser trained on providing a quality service and positive experience for our clients.
Q: Why does A.N. Deringer support CONECT through a corporate partnership?
A: CONECT has been a wonderful partner for many years, allowing us to share our passion to advance the needs of the businesses we serve, educating our regional trade partners with critical government and international issues, and helping us (forgive me) connect with our colleagues throughout New England.
Recently we reinforced our commitment to the CONECT community by creating the A.N. Deringer Memorial Scholarship for CONECT’s Senator John Chafee Scholarship Program. This scholarship honors the Deringer employees who are no longer with us in recognition of their knowledge and dedication to the company and our customers.
Q: How can CONECT members find out more about your company?
A: Visit our website, www.anderinger.com! We have a great deal of information about critical trade issues via our Trade Alerts, our blog, and our educational center. Or you can call us at (888) 612-6239. We love to hear from CONECT members.