BVM - Nov, 2014 - page 77

Business View - November 2014 77
tional Airport in Queens.
Expansion has added several specialty services to the
company’s long-standing wheelhouse in military and
aerospace logistics, but the work ethic that got things
started in the 1940s hasn’t changed a bit, according
to Shelala’s grandson, Richard, who’s been Compass’
director since September 2012.
“Something that we’re incredibly proud of is that any-
one who comes into our company meets at least five
or six family members who are involved,” he said. “My
grandfather passed on his business know-how to my
father and he had this notion that it’s a family com-
pany and it’s here for the family, but you’ve got to earn
it. All of us that are in the company started out on the
trucks and in the warehouses and worked every single
department in the place. You had to organically rise
in the company, there was never a sense of you get
handed something.
“What really makes a family company a drag is when
you’ve got somebody who’s the manager of whatever
and he’s got no idea of what he’s doing and he’s got
no respect for the employees because they all know
that they know their job a lot better than this guy does.
I’d like to think that it’s not so much the case here. We
all started off at the bottom and we were all forced to
earn our way up. You weren’t able to progress unless
you knew that desk inside and out.”
Compass used to run its day-to-day operations via
offices across the United States, but the arrival of
Internet technology to help with tasks like customs
clearances has allowed it to scale back its domestic
footprint to a single office in New York and a series of
satellite warehouses. The emphasis previously put on
U.S. offices has been shifted to expanding operations
overseas, and Shelala said vertical growth is sought in
any country where the company already has a consid-
erable presence.
Globally, Compass employs between 200 and 250,
about 80 of whom are based in New York. It maintains
three offices in Saudi Arabia – which serves as the
predominant trade lane between the U.S. and the Ara-
bian Peninsula – four offices in India, and a new office
in Sao Paulo, Brazil that was fully opened in February
of this year and is already, Shelala said, at revenue-
neutral status.
“We don’t like to just open for the sake of opening,” he
said. “If there’s a need, and in Brazil we found a need,
then we open an office and we have our way of doing
it that tends to get it up and running and efficient as
quickly as possible.”
Shelala said as the industry became more commod-
itized and volume-based and profit margins crept
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