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Case study

Cushioning the landing for fragile freight

Finding a better way to transport glass and antiques

Client background

A glass manufacturer and a global antiques dealer experience safety and savings in shipping after partnering with freight forwarder/customs broker International Forwarders, Inc. (IFI), a subsidiary of Odyssey.

A glass above the rest

This international, award-winning glass manufacturer has very high standards. Using modern technology to make specialty glass, the company sells its products to such industries as architecture, aviation, lighting, and pharmaceutical systems. Imagine the logistics challenges in shipping everything from fiber optics to windows used in the renovation of 150-year-old buildings. This industry leader needed a logistics partner with the same commitment to quality and pride in service.

The average person admiring a towering glass building doesn’t think about how the glass panels got there, much less how many continents they may have crossed.

For this customer, IFI had to manage air and motor transport carriers, packaging, warehousing, and customs inspection – and it had to do so with the utmost attention to the fragile cargo, glass. Indeed, a tall order for any company.


While a bump in the road may jostle a shipment of steel beams, when the freight is glass, however, that same bump could result in a costly claim for a shattered product. IFI managed every link in the supply chain route to ensure the glass shipment received the kid-gloves handling it required to reach its final destination in one piece.

Customized packaging – The shipment of computer screens, cell phone faces, and all of this manufacturer’s diverse glass products requires custom-designed packaging to ensure safe shipping. For example, for the shipment of special glass tubing and pharmaceutical packaging, IFI ordered specialized igloo packaging surrounded by metal casing to secure the product.

Packing engineers – The packing and shipping of glass is a specialty unto itself. IFI procured on-site specialists who had the skills and experience in securing and packing glass products. Their expertise assisted in the development of loading and unloading instructions, which minimize the potential problems of mixed loads or improper stacking.

Information logistics – Communication was critical for the coordination needed to successfully ship products for this glass manufacturer. IFI did not rely on a single form of communication; it followed up standard package labeling, electronic tracking, and e-mails with personal phone calls and on-site support to reinforce the message of kid-gloves handling for the fragile freight – a clear example of IFI’s personal touch.

Equally comfortable at preserving history

In the antiques business, damage to the product during shipping is catastrophic. It’s not like you can go out and order a replacement.

Ten times a year, this 20-year veteran of the antiques business leaves her family shop in Virginia to travel to Europe in search of period pieces her customers treasure. At the end of each trip, she has the same wish – that she could hand-carry each precious item home.

When you find the perfect antique, anything less than that perfection is unacceptable. Larger purchases require special handling to ensure they arrive in the same condition as when purchased. Knowing she could not be there for every phase of shipment, the antiques dealer did the next best thing. She engaged IFI.

The personal touch

Established in 1948, IFI provides full-service global logistics management and customs brokerage services. The company’s close proximity to major U.S. ports, such as Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, affords customers a personal touch through IFI’s local insight. Worldwide contracts and non-asset-based affiliations extend that personal touch with end-to-end import and export services that are the best fit for customers.

I loved the personal attention to every detail of our shipment. From customized packaging to unraveling customs snags on our behalf, IFI handled our antiques as if they were their own.

A customs expert

The smallest misstep in global transportation– such as an incorrectly filled-out customs form or bill of lading – can cause serious delays. In addition to documentation requirements, there are import laws unique to antiques. IFI’s knowledge of importing and exporting antiques, such as the securing of proof of age for qualifying antiques to receive duty-free treatment, helped this customer avoid unnecessary delays and costs.

IFI represented the Virginia antique dealer as her own customs expert by paying duties, overseeing customs inspection, and ensuring the integrity of the antiques’ packaging before delivering the shipment to its final destination. The shop owner’s antiques arrived intact and shipment was hassle-free – priceless.

IFI’s personal touch serves clients worldwide, providing traffic management, duty drawback, surety bonds, foreign trade zone advice and customs consulting. With expertise gained over more than a half-century, IFI and Odyssey have a better way to offer reliable import/export logistics services.

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