Posted on 12 January 2022

Americas: successfully spanning different cultures

Brandon O’Brien, Regional Director of Stolt Tank Containers Americas, talks about the differences within this region and how success is achieved throughout. 

Stolt Tank Containers’ Americas region spans the full extent of the American continent and includes many of the island countries in the Caribbean. This region, in which we do business in around 15 countries, contains over 100 port cities. Our business is managed out of six key locations, supplemented with agent support in the smaller-volume countries. 

The Americas’ widely varying geography calls for different transport solutions. Cargo arriving in a United States sea port may spend multiple days travelling inland via rail or road to reach its destination. Places like Mendoza in Argentina are often better served out of ports in Chile than the country’s own. And then there are river locations, like Manaus in Brazil, which are days away from the coast.

A tale of two cultures

As Regional Director Brandon O’Brien explains, the Americas is unique for the distinctly different cultures that prevail in the north and south. “In North America, customers are used to having door service with everything taken care of for them. They expect Stolt Tank Containers to perform well through every function this entails. Our relationships with vendors are therefore crucial for meeting expectations and maintaining our own reputation. 

“By contrast, Latin America customers have a strong preference for direct relationships with every vendor in the chain and take most of the logistics into their own hands. Many Latin America customers prefer pier service over door service, and are often just looking to hire a tank, with no other services attached.” 

Contrasting depot demands

Depot services are, of course, vital to our operation, even in territories where there is little customer demand for us to supply them directly. Brandon describes how Stolt Tank Containers balances these contrasting expectations.   

“Stepping up to the typically high demands of North American customers is something Stolt Tank Containers takes in its stride. Our industry-leading depot in Houston, Texas, is equipped and approved to handle many processes that others are not. 

“There are no Stolt-owned depots in Latin America, but we still rely on high-quality depot services to keep our operation running. To ensure availability of these, we have fostered close relationships with locally owned depots throughout the region. This has extended to supporting the design and start-up of the Milo depot in Argentina, as well as being the first tank container operator to provide business to other depots in Latin America.”

A director who’s proud of his people 

Brandon O’Brien has been part of Stolt Tank Containers for 10 years. Prior to becoming Americas Regional Director three years ago, he was responsible for developing the Vendor Management team in Rotterdam. Throughout his time in the company, Brandon’s biggest sense of pride has always been the people he works with. 

“In all my time with Stolt, I have been lucky to work with intelligent and super-talented staff. I’m proud to have built the Vendor Management team. But its continued success over the last two years is credit to them. I am also extremely proud of all the staff who put in such a massive effort to keep our business moving during COVID-19. Faced with so many significant changes, the team adapted and came together to execute the business each day.”

Unifying the region

Brandon’s relocation from Rotterdam to Houston to take his current role was a symbolic moment in unifying the Americas region. This was the point where its name officially became Stolt Tank Containers Americas, and the North and South America sub-region designations were dropped. 

Brandon: “We are one global team, and acting as one region in this part of the world demonstrates how we can learn from our own successes and failures to build better overall strength. We have very different structures in our offices in the USA compared to those in South America. In Houston and New Jersey we are in industrial areas, whereas in South America all our offices are in central locations in the various countries’ capital or largest cities. This creates different environments for how we meet and build relationships with customers and vendors, and how our staff experience working life.

“Despite all the differences this region throws at us, we have found a way to maintain a presence throughout it that customers have grown to rely upon. From the most advanced technical expertise to basic tank supply. In North America, our advanced facilities and extensive vendor network make us shine. Meanwhile in Latin America, it’s the connections we’ve established with local vendor network that have helped to differentiate our abilities.”

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