Thomas Smith hits a new mile­stone cel­e­brat­ing its 170th an­niver­sary

The Malta Business Weekly - - NEWS -

The path to pros­per­ity is full of rough trails; nev­er­the­less, the des­ti­na­tion prom­ises great tri­umphs. This year Thomas Smith is com­mem­o­rat­ing its 170th an­niver­sary of the Group’s busi­ness ven­ture. Such a pres­ti­gious event com­pels us to take a look back at the com­pany’s hum­ble be­gin­nings and trace the mile­stones ac­com­plished through­out the years.

The Group’s in­cep­tion dates back to 1848, es­tab­lish­ing its pres­ence on the Mal­tese mar­ket through ser­vice of­fer­ings re­lated to freight trans­porta­tion. William Jen­ni­son Smith, the founder, whose sur­name in­flu­enced the name of the com­pany at the time that of Smith and Co., served as a port agency and coal mer­chant to var­i­ous cor­po­ra­tions, in­clud­ing British In­dia Steam Nav­i­ga­tion Com­pany, White Star Line and P&O, among oth­ers. The com­pany’s records are abun­dant with his­toric rec­ol­lec­tions of early lo­gis­tics com­merce.

Con­scious of the con­sid­er­able re­spon­si­bil­ity and risk closely re­lated to the busi­ness of ship­ping, the com­pany forged an ad­di­tional ser­vice to of­fer peace of mind to its ship­ping clients, which is nowa­days recog­nised as Thomas Smith’s In­sur­ance arm. Its ini­tial of­fer­ings granted cov­er­age for ves­sels and cargo, which even­tu­ally ex­panded into to­day’s full set of in­sur­ance of­fer­ings through its agency and bro­ker­age; from mo­tor, travel and home in­sur­ance, to busi­ness and marine poli­cies.

The com­pany’s ship­ping di­vi­sion con­tin­ued to de­velop with the ap­point­ment of Joe Ger­ada as the Group’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, 35 years ago. Af­ter be­ing placed at the helm of the en­ter­prise, Joe Ger­ada el­e­vated the Port Agency of­fer­ings and in­tro­duced new Freight For­ward­ing ser­vices, aligned with the orig­i­nal ones pro­vided.

In 2009, Thomas Smith reached a new high within the Ship­ping in­dus­try, through se­cur­ing ex­clu­sive lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the global con­tainer com­pany, Maersk Line. The Dan­ish com­pany placed com­plete trust in Thomas Smith in han­dling its ves­sels and cargo move­ments once they reach Mal­tese ports, which placed Malta as the cen­tral Mediter­ranean hub. They also trusted Thomas Smith with serv­ing the lo­cal do­mes­tic mar­ket with con­tainer ship­ping.

The Group evolved from a com­pany with a great rep­u­ta­tion with fi­nan­cial dire needs and lit­tle busi­ness ac­tiv­ity to a ro­bust com­mer­cial model. Get­ting too close to death many times, Thomas Smith Group es­tab- lished its po­si­tion with the top lead­ers in the field; from hav­ing just a dozen em­ploy­ees to en­list­ing 80 skilled em­ploy­ees of var­i­ous ages and na­tion­al­i­ties within a few decades.

Op­er­at­ing within an in­no­va­tive sec­tor doesn’t al­low for one mo­ment of rest, which is re­flected through the myr­iad of ser­vices in­tro­duced across the years, with the lat­est ad­di­tion con­sist­ing of groupage ser­vices of­fer­ing from the Far East in Septem­ber.

Freight For­ward­ing now dom­i­nates in all trans­port meth­ods, whether it’s air, sea or land. Cargo move­ment in­cludes In­ter­na­tional Out of Gauge Loads, Lo­gis­tics, Project Cargo, Air Freight move­ments, stor­age fa­cil­i­ties for mer­chan­dise, full load con­tainer ser­vices and tran­ship­ments across in­ter­na­tional wa­ters and land. Ship­ping ser­vices also branch out to tai­lored tasks, such as Pet Cargo and Film Lo­gis­tics. Re­cently, the Ship­ping di­vi­sion has es­tab­lished a Ded­i­cated Trucks ser­vice; a smooth, lo­gis­ti­cal al­ter­na­tive to cargo tran­sits within Europe.

With a bright fu­ture ahead, Thomas Smith is once again em­brac­ing change, this time within its lead­er­ship team. Af­ter four decades of in­flu­ence, Joe Ger­ada has an­nounced the Group’s new board of di­rec­tors, made up of es­tab­lished heads − De­nis Galea, Wayne Xuereb and Liana Cachia as ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers; as well as Han­nah Smith and Cristina Ger­ada as non-ex­ec­u­tive fam­ily mem­bers; Elisa Krantz as a non-ex­ec­u­tive board mem­ber and John Zarb as a con­sul­tant. With this strength­ened team, the Group will ben­e­fit from an en­hanced skill set, verg­ing from hu­man re­source man­age­ment, mar­ket­ing, fi­nance and lo­gis­tics. The three new ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers gather 60 years of ex­pe­ri­ence be­tween them, work­ing in the field of ad­min­is­tra­tion, hu­man re­sources, ship­ping, in­sur­ance, cus­tomer ser­vice, sales, per­for­mance man­age­ment, mar­ket­ing and fi­nance. Through the new lead­er­ship skills, Thomas Smith Group is set to strengthen the team and lead the way for a stronger and greater fu­ture in ship­ping, ports, lo­gis­tics and in­sur­ance.

170 years is a grand mile­stone. The new lead­er­ship team is ea­ger to set sail onto new busi­ness hori­zons and aims to keep re­new­ing its vi­sion over time and with ad­vance­ments brought by macro en­vi­ron­men­tal forces. Ger­ada’s goal will keep on res­onat­ing through­out the next 170 years – “fo­cus on what we do at ever im­proved lev­els of qual­ity, en­sur­ing cus­tomer loy­alty and long-term part­ner­ship”.

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