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WSS Ships Agency’s Frederic


Wilhelmsen Ships Service (WSS) is aiming to consolidate its position within the Ships

Agency segment by building stronger agent-customer relationships. By doing so, Fred- eric Fontarosa believes the ? rm can offer enhanced ef? ciency, understanding and value.

Frederic Fontarosa is a people person. Mixing an easy going, laid back French-American drawl with sud- denly energetic outbursts on subjects close to his heart, he’s engaging to talk to and easy to like. Seated in his Houston of? ce, although rarely sitting still, the WSS Director Ships Agency Americas is taking

Maritime Reporter & Engineering News through his ambitions for a division of the global business that serves 581 regional ports and an average of 2000 vessel calls every single month. “It’s about the people,” he said. “Our people getting closer to the customer, and the customers’ customers, to understand their trading patterns, requirements and how our service solutions can help them meet their in- dividual objectives. “We’re a big company, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have close customer relationships – in fact our size actually makes it easier.” Fontarosa isn’t wrong about being big.

Ships Agency is one of the oldest divisions of the worldwide Wilh. Wilhelmsen Group, and over its 40 year history has grown into a giant; boasting 1250 employees, 182 dedicated of? ces (alongside 438 sub agency of? ces), with the capacity to service ports in 132 countries. This size, as Fontarosa points out, brings obvious bene? ts for customers: “With a trading environment of low earnings, tight credit and high costs, a ships agency with our global network can offer in- ternational shipowners compelling advantages. These include the standardization of services, global reach, compliance, certi? ed employees, quality assured processes, E&O insurance cov- erage, data availability, and modern, integrated IT systems. The ef? ciencies associated with this breadth of offer are immense.

“Small agencies, which are normally represented in only one port, simply don’t have the ? nancial capability, geographical spread, or the desire to ensure those standards are embraced.

That gives us, and our customers, a clear advantage.”

But for all those bene? ts, some would argue that, in the world of ships agency, small is beau- tiful. Being small means these ‘mom and pop’ businesses can be personality focused, allowing them to forge close relationships with repeat customers. Isn’t this something an agency the size of WSS struggles with? The return of Fontarosa’s smile suggests not.

Local Knowledge, Global Reach

Fontarosa describes WSS’ relationship with its customers as ‘peer-to-peer.’ implying that it views each other as partners, rather than service provider and client. To build the bonds within that partnership the ? rm has created something called the Global Agent Desk.

“This means we appoint one person that is globally responsible for that shipping company,” he explains. “In essence this gives them the chance to build that mom and pop style relationship, but in a global sense rather than just at one port. That person becomes the customer’ single point of contact worldwide and, as a consequence, this drives huge ef? ciencies as the ? rm no longer needs to deal with a myriad of mom and pops.”

Frederic Fontarosa

Joined Wilhelmsen Ships Service within the Operations department in France in 1994. Since then has held roles as Development Manager in the Africa, Middle East & Black Sea region (2001– 2005), Vice President International Sales (2005-2009) and, in 2009, was made Business Director,

Ships Agency and Bunkers. In 2013 took on his current role as WSS Director Ships Agency Ameri- cas. Fontarosa on Fontarosa: “Every day is different, with a different challenge, I love it.” “From behind my desk in Houston, thanks to

WSS’ global reach, the world is my playground!” 16 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News • JANUARY 2016

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