Thomas Smith hits a new milestone as it celebrates its 170th anniversary
The path to prosperity is full of rough trails; nevertheless, the destination promises great triumphs. This year, Thomas Smith commemorates the 170th anniversary of the Group’s business venture. Such a prestigious event compels it to take a look at the company’s humble beginnings and mark the milestones accomplished over the years.
The Group was set up in 1848, establishing its presence in the Maltese market through service offerings related to freight transportation. William Jennison Smith, the founder who gave his surname to the company – Smith and Co., which 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 at the helm of the enterprise, Joe Gerada extended the Port Agency offerings and introduced new Freight Forwarding services, aligned to the original ones provided.
In 2009, Thomas Smith reached a new high in the Shipping industry, by securing exclusive local representation of the global container company, Maersk Line. The Danish company had complete trust in Thomas Smith 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 dire financial needs and little business activity to a robust commercial model. Getting close to death many times, Thomas Smith Group established its position with the top leaders in the field; from having just a dozen employees to employing 80 skilled employees of various ages and nationalities within a few decades.
Operating in an innovative sector does not allow one moment of rest, which is reflected in the myriad services introduced over the years, with the latest addition consisting of groupage services offering from the Far East in September 2018.
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 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 in 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, from human resource management to marketing, finance and logistics. The three new executive members have 60 years of experience between them working in the field of administration, human resources, shipping, insurance, customer service, sales, performance management, marketing and finance. Thanks to its 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.
One hundred and seventy years is a grand milestone. The new leadership team is eager to set sail for new business horizons and aims to keep renewing its vision over time and with advancements brought by macro environmental forces. Joe 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”.