Jacob Rasmussen rejoins Aspire Mobility Group A/S

Aspire Mobility Group in Denmark has announced the appointment of Jacob Rasmussen as Director of Moving Services.

The announcement marks Jacob’s return to the Aspire Mobility Group having left the company in 2011 to work for a major international competitor. Jacob takes over the role from Sara Lyrum who has recently been appointed Group Director following the retirement of Gunnar Moeskjaer.

“Being back at Aspire feels like coming home,” said Jacob. “Working for a large corporate gave me a lot of valuable experience, but it’s good to be back working with my old colleagues and having the flexibility to put my ideas into practice.”

In his new role Jacob will be responsible for running the company’s Customer Service and Pricing teams as well as dealing with day-to-day administration of Aspire’s offices in Copenhagen, Aarhus and Stockholm, Sweden.

Jacob lives in Copenhagen with his wife Helle and their two children, Simon 17 and daughter Maja 13.  When he’s not at work, Jacob enjoys playing handball and coaching goalkeeping at his local football club.

Philippa Robinson elected to OMNI Board

Philippa Robinson has joined the OMNI Board. She was officially voted to the position by the OMNI
membership at the network’s annual conference in Seville in April.

Philippa, and her brother Anthony, are the fourth generation to run the family business Robinsons
Relocation in the UK. The company was started in 1895 by her great grandfather in Manchester and grew quickly both generically and through acquisition. In her youth she wasn’t particularly interested in joining the business however, while in her gap year between school and university, she decided to pay for herself to attend FIDI in Athens and OMNI in Corfu, and this experience opened her eyes to the moving industry.
“I thought, it’s crazy, how can you all be competitors and yet such good friends,” she said. After completing her degree in geography she went travelling in Africa before doing a ski season in France.
Her father, Peter, had suggested she should look up Tom Ansley at Elliott while she was there. Whilst
talking to Tom, he invited her to train with his company and after her ski season, Philippa took up Tom’s
offer. A year in South Africa at Elliotts and Philippa was hooked. “I really loved the business but wanted to be back in the UK,” she said.
Robinsons had recently bought Cantay and acquired some major corporate clients, so Philippa joined the
family firm in Birmingham as a corporate move manager. A couple of years later, she moved to Robinsons Abingdon office where she spearheaded the merging of the group’s corporate departments and the shift into a one point of contact move management-driven approach. “When making decisions we always had a very practical approach,” she said. “We just asked whether what we were doing was right for the business.”
Robinsons was one of the founding members of OMNI and by joining the Board Philippa is following in her father’s footsteps. “We always had very close relationships with OMNI companies and when the request for me to join the Board came through I felt it was right for me,” Philippa explained. “It’s not for my personal self-esteem or my company it’s just my time to step up a gear and take on some responsibility in the industry. OMNI provides something unique. It gives business owners some time together to share ideas with people who understand, treat each other with respect and are discreet. That’s the real benefit of OMNI for me.”

Harnessing new technology in the moving industry

Wiebe van Bockel, CCO Voerman International, addressed the OMNI conference in Seville to offer his opinion on how the industry has embraced technology and provide an insight into how his company has become a recognised leader in this respect.

There was one very strong message from Wiebe’s presentation: movers should get involved in technology as failure to do so would mean they would risk being left behind in a very competitive world.

He said that the technological world was changing rapidly but it was yet to have its full impact on the moving industry.  Although moving companies had adopted move management software systems and accepted that data is now stored in the cloud, as yet, moving companies had not been hit by disruptive technology in the way that some other industries had.

Disruptive technology

He offered Netflix and Spotify as examples of technology that had disrupted the TV and music industries by putting the consumer in control.  Moving companies, he believes, have to do the same but will need help to fully appreciate the opportunities.  “People in the moving industry don’t like change,” he said. “We are still a very archaic industry.”   He showed how the whole moving process, even in a digital world, had changed little with the individual elements – lead acquisition, survey, quotation, the move and administration processes – all operating manually and independently. He said that even the software currently available doesn’t integrate these processes fully with the customer in mind.

The Voerman approach

Some years ago Voerman launched a new company called Moverall.  This allowed people to do their own surveys, self-select their moving company, get a tailored quote and book the move online.  Wiebe said it didn’t work, and cost the company money, but they did learn a lot.

Since then the company has launched Move4you which looks at the process from the client side by asking what they need; supports RedSky move management; recently launched Reedge, a chat-based platform designed to improve communications from the customers’ side; SurveyApp, a video and photograph-based survey tool; and also has new technology called moovyn.com which is currently under test.

Wiebe said that now we have many transferees being given lump sum payments by their companies, it was up to the moving industry to give them opportunities to spend it. We want them coming direct to us, not surfing the internet,” he said. “We are headed towards a future of robotics, predictive models and AI-based consumer service. I believe we are going in the right direction.”

A question from the audience voiced concern about letting customers take the lead, even though they are technically savvy, as they wouldn’t understand important elements of the moving process.  Wiebe agreed but said that care needed to be taken to identify the critical points in the process and make sure that they were performed correctly.

Photo:  Wiebe van Bockel

Sara Lyrum takes over from Gunnar Moeskjaer at Aspire Mobility Group

Sara Lyrum has taken over as Group Director for Aspire Mobility Group in Copenhagen, Denmark, following the retirement of Gunnar Moeskjaer after over 30 years in the moving industry.

Gunnar started his moving career with Santa Fe in Hong Kong in 1988, he moved to Singapore with the company in 1993 before returning to his native Denmark in 2000 to join moving company Bach & Salicath. Two years later the company bought Mobeltransport Danmark which rebranded its international moving and relocation division in 2013: Aspire Mobility Group.

During his time with the company Gunnar has helped to grow the moving and storage business, taking it into OMNI, FIDI, IAM and Eura and adding a wide range of services including DSP, immigration and Global relocation services. In 2012 the company opened a branch in Stockholm, Sweden.

Sara started her career in 1995 as an apprentice with Bach Mobeltransport which then merged to become Bach & Salicath. The company was a partner with UTS giving Sara the opportunity to work with North American Van Lines in Fort Wayne, Indiana for six months to understand the international business better. She returned to Copenhagen to head up the European and International departments. In 2013 she moved to work for Alfa Quality Moving in Denmark, returning to Aspire Mobility last year.

Asked about her ambitions in her new role Sara acknowledged that the industry is changing quickly. “It’s time to stop and reflect,” she said. “We need to focus on how to address the next generation. They want fast, simple communications on their phones. Moving will be a tech function in the future.”

She also explained that the relocation industry in Denmark is a little different from many other countries. The corporations are still willing to work directly with relocation companies and that is where she believes the growth will be in the short to medium term.  “The global mobility people want to know how fast you can get the work permit and find assignees a place to stay,” she said. “The move isn’t even a priority, so we are adding a lot of additional mobility products to our service delivery platform. It’s the way forward for us.”

Gunnar of course, will be taking life a little easier. He’s enrolled to study history and, he says, he has plenty of books to read.  But he’s also made himself available to the company as part of an advisory board. “It will be very interesting because now I will have the time to take a high-level view rather than working in the business day to day.  I hope it will be useful for the company.”

Suddath: Driving Innovation for 100 Years

Global Leader in Moving, Relocation and Logistics Celebrates Centennial

A century ago, Carl Suddath had little more than a dream when he bought a failed moving company
to start up his own business. Armed with a couple of small trucks, two mules and a cart, Suddath saw
opportunity in a 7,000-square-foot warehouse. Today, The Suddath Companies celebrates its 100th anniversary as a transformed company that is driving change and innovation across the moving, mobility and logistics industries.

The $600-million company moves more than 70,000 households annually, including managing the moves of about 30,000 U.S. service men and women. It also provides mobility, relocation, and logistics services in more than 150 countries across the globe and is North America’s largest commercial mover, providing services for some of the most recognized companies in the world.

The Suddath Companies has earned a name for its innovative use of technology to streamline and improve its various industry sectors such as logistics, mobility and corporate moves, including specialty environments like medical, high-tech or food-grade facilities. In the last year alone, Suddath’s innovation earned two prestigious industry awards. The CIO 100 Award honoured Suddath’s ‘Tracker’ programme, which it developed in-house to keep precise track of even the smallest items, allowing clients to know exactly where their inventory is and alerting them when
their items have been delivered and set up. The company also received a Digital Edge 50 International Technology Award for another of its innovations, the patented ‘Estimator’ platform, which significantly improves the customer experience by shortening the turnaround time for quotations and contracts, while improving the quality and accuracy of estimates.

“Suddath is always innovating to drive positive change and deliver a better experience for our customers,” said Mike Brannigan, President and CEO for The Suddath Companies. “We’ve made it to 100 years old by staying true to our core values while also evolving to meet the demands of a changing marketplace. For generations, we’ve committed to innovation, to investing in our people and to meeting customer needs with quality service – from acquiring successful smaller operations around the world to developing award-winning technologies that improve everything from
warehouse management to corporate office moves or personal relocations.”

From its humble beginnings, the Suddath Companies has become an international success story – an established global leader moving people, products and businesses through its 30 locations and more than 2,200 employees worldwide. That lone 7,000-square-foot facility in 1919 has grown to 3 million square feet of warehouse space throughout the U.S. and Europe.

“My grandfather’s drive and determination gave rise to a company that is now connecting people and businesses across the world through the use of superior technology and innovative processes,” said Steve Suddath, Chairman of the Suddath Board of Directors. “Our company’s success is built on our customers’ trust in our capabilities. I’m proud of our great work over the last 100 years and excited to see the impressive innovations we achieve in the future.”

The company recently announced the launch of a new brand, Sterling Lexicon, built on its acquisitions of two of the mobility industry’s most trusted leaders in the U.S. and U.K.: Sterling Mobility and Lexicon Relocation. The new brand provides end-to-end mobility services adapted to conform to the cultures of different companies and personalized to meet the needs of individual employees.

Venezuelan Electricity Outages

Zenaida Romero of MI Global has advised us that problems with the national electricity supply is effecting internet and telephone services.
Authorities are gradually restoring electricity services but these efforts are taking some time.
Please expect interruptions and delays in communications.

Lance Allen joins Aires

Aires in the USA has announced that Lance Allen, GMS, has joined the company as General
Manager of the West Coast Region. In his role, Lance will be responsible for the continued
growth and development of Aires’ business in the region.

Lance has over 30 years of mobility industry experience having worked extensively in the
United States, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He has worked for relocation management,
destination services, and household goods shipping companies over the course of his career,
specialising in strategic company development in key markets, client relationship building,
and team development.

“We are excited to have Lance join Aires,” said Aires’ President Jeff Wangler. “His years of
experience will be a great asset to our company as we continue to expand and develop our
West Coast presence. Lance brings the perfect mix of abilities to Aires, from building
strategic alliances with clients, to developing successful operations and management teams,
to successful business development and growth.”

Most recently, Lance was based in Hong Kong, serving as the Managing Director for North
Asia for a leading mobility firm. In that role, he oversaw all business lines in the North Asia
Cluster, serving as a member of the senior leadership team. He will directly apply his years
of management experience in his new role with Aires.

“Being a service provider and partner with Aires, I have admired the organisation for
decades and now I have the opportunity to be part of their team,” said Lance. “Aires is a
true market leader in the mobility industry, and I feel honored to be joining such a strong
and professional organisation.”

Lance received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Indiana University and a Master of
Business Administration from Pepperdine University. He has been instrumental in
establishing CSR, ISO, and other relevant certifications for organisations throughout his
career. He has also served within several industry organizations, including the Board of
Governors for the American Club and the Board of Governors for FIDI-Asia (during which
time he also served as Vice President and President).

Enhancing the Mobility Journey without Increasing Costs

By Vaida Paulauskaite, Global Client Service Manager, Aires

More often we see companies tasked with the balancing act of developing a competitive
global mobility program while maintaining/reducing costs. Mobility teams are challenged to
act as business owners who do more with less, while simultaneously enhancing the mobility
experience – which is at the centre of all initiatives.

Here are some tips on how to enhance the mobility journey without adding costs to your
program:

Homework Share

  • Engage partners to do ‘homework’ on the programme elements they are responsible for.
    The intent of this exercise is to gather consultative advice relevant specifically to your
    programme. This will help evaluate if the package offering is competitive and if all services
    are still adding value to the overall programme. Encourage your partners to share what
    other companies are doing to fine-tune the programme and stay agile.
  • Review assignee feedback, either through the partner tools and resources or conducting
    your own additional internal survey to gather notes on what works and what doesn’t.
  • Review your program exceptions to find process improvements that will allow you to
    manage the program more effectively and/or reduce costs. To give an example: your
    relocation exception data indicates that the top category of spend is for temporary living
    extension. Following close analysis, you find that families find it challenging to find new
    homes in that location due to limited destination support they receive through the current
    programme. Because of this review, you decide to provide an additional day of home search
    support to future relocation packages, which is more cost effective than an additional month
    of corporate housing extension and helps to reduce the number and costs of these
    exceptions.
  • Review actual benefit utilization. You may find that a certain benefit is underutilized;
    however, its cost opportunity is high. By removing it from the standard package, it will give
    you room for considering a different service in another area that would complement the
    assignee’s experience.

Say Yes to Technology

  •  New HR/Global Mobility technology solutions keep cropping up, which can give you a great
    view of your mobility programme at your fingertips. This allows more room for you to be
    strategic, efficient, and consultative with the businesses you work with and to address more
    specific programme requirements and changing needs.
  • Review the needs and demographics of your managed population to evaluate how much
    technology they need, and what type of service would be the right fit. For example, some
    assignees may find online language courses or web tool cultural training more attractive due
    to added flexibility of being able to use whilst still at their home location, in comparison to
    class-based or one-on-one sessions at the host location. Such an alternative solution would
    not only meet the individual assignee needs and demonstrate your programme’s flexibility,
    but also would generate some cost savings as a technology solution.
  • Embrace various additional technology resources, such as video surveys for the household
    goods move, especially if the assignee has very few items to move. It takes less time out of
    their day to manage it, and the movers are well equipped in preparation. You may also create short videos to demonstrate what the new office location is like. The opportunities for technology are limitless.

Flexibility

  • Consider offering flexibility to the relocating assignee, catering to their individual needs. As
    an example, we see a trend of people ‘traveling light’. For example, they may not require a
    20-foot container, which the company budgeted for. Perhaps they can instead utilize a small
    air shipment or excess baggage in lieu of the full container shipment. Consider that they
    could also receive an additional flex-benefit to complement their individual needs, such as
    language training or reimbursement of a nanny or dog-sitter on the day they are moving.

Social Integration

Within the mobility packages, social integration is sometimes overlooked, even though it is a
very important factor for the overall mobility experience of the relocating assignee and their
family. Transferee surveys indicate that they often feel a sense of disconnection and
loneliness when relocating. Here are some tips that will help boost morale and inclusion:
 Provide access to socializing and networking opportunities for the assignees,
spouses/partners and children relocating to the same location. Perhaps sign them up for
next 3 events.

  • Share social company group pages if available.
  • Offer corporate membership to expatriate organisations.
  • Assign mentors in the office who may have gone through a similar relocating/ settling-in
    experience that they could connect with.
  • Include spouses throughout the process, for them to feel just as much supported and
    connected.

Solutions are limitless. Explore the above initiatives, share your success stories with us, and
surround yourself with innovative partners and programme stakeholders to build and
enhance your brand as the best employer. Keeping the businesses pleased with the most
effective cost management.

One Year Later: 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Aires in Pittsburgh explains the actions the company took following the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that came into force at the beginning of last year.
On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – H.R.1 into law.
Many of the provisions took effect on January 1, 2018 and are set to expire on December 31, 2025. The Act contains provisions that impact individuals and employers with both domestic and international cross-border relocations. Implications are considered at the individual level and for global mobility programmes as a whole.

The major component impacting mobility programs and the relocation industry was the repeal of the qualified moving expense deduction and moving expense reimbursement exclusions. Previously, moving expenses were excluded from taxable wages. Under the Act, these are now subject to federal income tax, FICA/Medicare, FUTA, state and local reporting, and withholding.
In January 2018 there was uncertainty in the relocation industry regarding how expenses that crossed tax years would be treated. Aires consulted the top tax professionals in the industry and developed a conservative approach to ensure our clients were recording earnings appropriately.

We found that many of our clients also sought guidance from Aires regarding the following
impacts of the Act:

1. Increased individual assignment costs which were not budgeted from a business perspective.
2. Increased overall costs of mobility programmes offering tax assistance / tax equalisation due to gross-up factor in multiple jurisdictions.
3. International assignments may not generate enough foreign tax credit to offset additional tax costs where other jurisdictions exempt these expenses from taxation.
4. Mobile employees would not be able to deduct moving expenses from personal taxes.

We began working with our clients to explore ways to help mitigate these additional costs while also allowing them to make decisions to support the business, stay competitive with mobile talent, and minimize disruption and hardship for mobile employees. Initial assessments we helped our clients with include:

1. Revisiting cost estimates for assignments where moving expenses were incurred after December 31, 2017 and determine extent of additional costs.
2. Working with tax service providers to evaluate leveraging unused, excess foreign tax credits.
3. Determining cost impact of substituting furnished accommodations for large household goods shipments. (A portion of the furnished accommodations may be excludable under IRC Section 911).
4. Determining cost impact of substituting a discretionary allowance for large household goods shipments.

After analysing the data and taking consideration of all options, most of our clients decided to cover the additional tax costs of Household Goods and Final Move Travel. Although the relocation costs would increase, our clients determined that corporate tax cuts received from the Act would offset a majority of the impact. Very few international assignment or tax equalisation policies were updated, but where required, clients simply included an addendum referencing the additional gross-up on such items.

In September 2018, the IRS issued Notice 2018-75 which provided guidance that if a move
occurred or started prior to 1/1/18 the expense could be treated as non-taxable under the
previous law. Aires initiated full-year reviews for all of our clients and sent corrections with
the final payroll reporting. These corrections greatly assisted our clients by reducing
earnings to be reported and, where applicable, reduced their overall gross-up cost.

The logistics of how to process additional gross-ups were challenging due to that fact that
some states did not conform to the Internal Revenue Service code. Our clients began to
realise that their payroll systems defaulted to state tax treatment consistent with the federal
law for relocation earnings reporting. Adjustments were required to our payroll software to
account for states that did not treat household goods and final move travel as taxable.

We made enhancements to our systems to produce adjustments that would reduce state
earnings as well as the related state tax. We worked with many of our clients to produce
payroll adjustments that would also help them save on gross-up costs.

A few clients considered adjusting their programs by limiting shipment sizes or offering a
discard and donate programme to help minimise their employees’ shipments. In some cases,
clients offered a small incentive in lieu of storage.

Despite the initial concerns, our clients understood the importance of retaining key mobility
talent. By helping our clients implement adjustments that enabled them to be competitive,
we collectively limited the exposure of the tax changes to the relocating employee.

Article written by Kamryn Bohn, Richard Loebig, & Bobby Mathew from Aires

Aires Awarded Highmark Health’s Best Practice Award

Aires is pleased to announce that the company has earned Highmark Health’s Best Practice Area Performance award as a mobility partner in recruiting. The award was presented to Aires at a ceremony held in Pittsburgh on January 17.

“We are proud to be recognized for our service excellence, and to receive this award from a fellow Pittsburgh-based company makes it even sweeter,” said Aires Vice President, Central Region, John Casuccio. “The dedicated team at Aires that serves the Highmark and Allegheny Health Network’s transferring employees deserve all the credit for their focused advocacy and high-touch urgency to make sure each move goes smoothly.”

Highmark Heath’s executives noted Aires’ service, processes, and superior account focus as key reasons for the award.

Valparaiso Port Strike Ends

OMNI have been informed that the strikes affecting Valparaiso port have now ended.

Apparently an agreement has now been signed between port workers and the Ministry of Labour which should ensure that operations return to normal soon.

Thanks again to Sylvia Garcia at Ward Van Lines.

Valparaiso Port Strike Resumes

Workers in the Chilean port of Valparaiso have resumed their strike causing significant delays for both imports and exports to the city. Protests in support of the strikes have turned increasingly violante and have also spread to other ports along the Pacific coast.

The strike, which has been on and off for over a month now has been called by workers who demand bonuses, more formal contracts and better working conditions.

Unfortunately there is no immediate sign of agreement being made and all shippers should prepare for significant delays.

Thanks again to Sylvia Garcia aty Ward Van Lines for keeping us updated.

Update to Chilean Customs Requirements

OMNI would like to thank Luis Silva at Unipack SA, Chile for providing the following update to the Chilean customs requirements…

 

NEW CUSTOMS REGULATIONS FOR AIR SHIPMENTS

Please be advised that due new Chilean Customs regulations, the import procedure was changed for all the AIR SHIPMENTS weighting 300 kilos or more with immediately effect.

Thorough inspection for shipments over 300 kilos ( 660 lbs) gross

All shipments will require an additional thorough inspection performed by the moving company at airport facilities This is additional to the Customs inspection that is always performed. The fully inspection will delay clearance in 1 or 2 days and will increase destination and storage charges.

Detailed Packing list:

Like some other countries, Chilean Customs Authorities are requesting a fully detailed packing list, especially with clothing, electronics and wooden items. This request is mandatory for all air shipments regardless the weight.

  • Wooden items must be indicated in the Packing list (furniture, ornaments, picture or painting frames, among others).
  • A detailed item by item list is required. For example, the clothes must indicate the number of pants, shirts, shoes, etc.
  • Electronic devices must indicate type, brand name, model and serial number.
  • If the goods are placed in 2 or more crates, the packing list must indicate which items are in which crate.

The moving companies will not be liable for additional charges and/or the consequences for not meet these mandatory requirements. Some of the consequences can be, fines  additional charges, retention of the goods, destruction of the forbidden goods and smuggling prosecution.

Significant delays at Valparaiso port, Chile

Please be aware that, as a result of an ongoing strike by customs employees, there are significant delays for both import and export at Valparaiso port, Chile. Meetings are scheduled to discuss workers’ concerns and hopefully an agreement will be reached soon.

Thanks to Sylvia Garcia at Ward Van Lines for the update.

***UPDATE***

03/12/18 – Please note that following two weeks of delays, an agreement has been reached and the strike is now over.

Valparaiso port should gradually return to normal in the coming weeks.

Thank you.

GInter Receives Highest Cartus Honours

OMNI Member GInter of Sao Paulo, Brazil has been as the top supplier to the Cartus Global Network in the “All Things Moving” category.

Robson Granero and Patrick Ohara received the award at the recent Cartus Conference in Seatlle, WA.

Many congratulations to all at GInter!

Thirteen Aires Employees attain CRP Designation

Aires is pleased to announce the new Certified Relocation Professional (CRP) designations obtained from Worldwide ERC® by 13 employees. All candidates who prepared for this year’s certification successfully passed the exam, taking Aires total number to CRP-designated employees to 137. 

“At Aires, we value lifelong learning and the achievement of goals, and each year we support a group of employees in their pursuit of the Certified Relocation Professional (CRP) designation awarded by the Worldwide ERC®,” said Aires’ Trainer/Instructional Designer, Michelle McPeak. “This year, we are excited to announce that 13 of our team members in various roles ranging from Accounting to Operations to IT achieved their CRP. These dedicated employees took on this challenge by meeting for sixteen weeks to study, prepare, and assist each other in this endeavor. We are so proud to say that 100% of our candidates succeeded in achieving their goal this year. Their commitment to this effort was outstanding.”

Those receiving the CRP designations serve in a wide range of internal roles and include:

·   Justin Bibbo – Expense Management Account Coordinator

·   Melissa Bigelow – Post Relocation Survey Team Lead

·   Christine Buckley – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Amy Caldwell – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Richard Demus – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Cassy Hanna – Client Service Manager

·   Amber McMullen – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Rick Metzger – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Kelly Policicchio – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Amy Preston – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Emily Ptak – Account Manager

·   Jennifer Reibie – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Matt Surdock – CIS Application Support