Q&A WITH PHIL TRAYLOR, CRCBFA Import Chair
What brought you in to the International Trade Industry?
The same thing as everyone else…a fluke! Like most, I didn’t even know the brokerage/forwarding industry existed. I had originally intended to be a Spanish teacher. I have a lot of educators in my family and was kind of blindly following that path. I was living in Corvallis and bartending at two places trying to save money to get my MAT and it was around the time that I realized I wasn’t passionate about the pursuit that I got a call from a friend who had recently started working at GSB. They were looking for more people like him (young and impressionable?). Within a couple of weeks, I interviewed, made the move, and never looked back!
What do you love most about being involved with the CRCBFA?
I guess you could say it’s the people, but really it’s more than that. It’s also what the people represent. I have said this kind of thing before in multiple settings but I truly believe it, so I’ll say it again here: this industry, like so many, is becoming increasingly automated and commoditized. I know a lot of us work in high pressure and high volume environments where the focus is on efficiency and we so rarely are able to find the time to look up from our computer screens. That being the case, the CRCBFA gives us the opportunity to engage regularly with the bigger picture. There are so many passionate, intelligent and motivated individuals involved with the association and the greater PCC. To interact with and learn from all of them is invaluable in its own right but in addition, to have the chance to work on issues that affect our collective future and industry-wide viability at both the national and local levels is invigorating.
Who in the industry has been an inspiration to you?
This answer might seem like a cop out, but it’s the truth. I’m consistently inspired by our team here at GSB. A company founded in 1888, we are a relatively small organization competing with multi-national corporations with a presence in every major global city. Against the odds, perhaps, here we are in 2015 thriving and innovating to stay competitive. From the executive level down to our newest and greenest, I’m very proud of what we’re doing here from a single office in Lloyd District of Portland, Oregon.
In your career so far, what has been the best moment?
Probably my first trip back to D.C. with the PCC. I have always been interested in politics so that was exceptionally cool. I had expected to be intimidated into silence while meeting with our elected officials and their staff, but that turned out not to be the case. It’s a unique and empowering experience and I suggest everyone who can try to participate at least once. I’d go every year if I could.
If you had one piece of advice for people just getting started in Customs Brokerage and Freight Forwarding what would it be?
Just take every opportunity you’re given (within reason), whether educational, social or otherwise. The more people you meet and the more you broaden your horizons, the more likely you are to land in the role that best suits your interests and goals. Identify local industry leaders and seek out their mentorship, even just informally. On the flip side of that coin, and the reason for the parenthetical above, I’d say be careful not to spread yourself too thin. I’ve been guilty of that a couple of times in the past and found myself doing a bunch of things at once and none of them as well as I would have liked. I guess to sum that up, I’ll say put yourself out there but find your balance. Oh, also, Thursday night is not the weekend anymore. The sooner you get used to that idea, the better off you’ll be. :]
If this industry had a mascot, what would it be, and what would its name be?
Oh, I don’t know…how about stomach bacteria? Working hard all hours of the day behind the scenes, rarely thought about, but critical to health of its host (host = industry in order to make that clunky-if-not-disgusting analogy work). Go fightin’ Gut Flora!
If you could change one thing about this industry, what would it be?
That’s not a short list so I’ll just pick something that sounds trivial…and it is: Faxing. Come on, folks! Nobody doesn’t have email anymore. Let’s work together and kill the fax machine once and for all. I’m looking at you, Customs ;-)
And last but not least, what is your favorite summer time activity in the Northwest?
It’s a toss-up between cycling (both road and mountain) and backpacking. Mt. Biking is a bit harder to do because we don’t have trails in Portland. Driving to ride my bike isn’t my favorite. As an every-day type activity, I love road biking because I can pedal away from my house in SE Portland and in a half an hour I’m in the country whizzing by cows at 25 mph. I grew up in rural eastern Oregon so I guess a part of me still likes to get out of the city. Backpacking is my favorite weekend activity. We are so blessed with an abundance of beautiful wilderness around here. I never feel better than when I’m up high in elevation and away from the noise for a couple of days. My wife and I bought a house together before we were married and quickly acquired most of the household essentials so when we got hitched, we registered at REI. Best idea ever.