SVG Europe Sit-Down: SOS Global delivers for Winter Olympics and FIFA World Cup
By: Philip Stevens
Monday, March 12, 2018 - 4:11 pm

SOS started as a small New York-based forwarder in 1986. A year later, ABC hired the company to handle several small shipments for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary. Since then, SOS Global has worked on a variety of projects across the US, Europe, Asia, Middle East and South America.

They include further Olympics Games, Super Bowls. major motor races – and it has even made a delivery to a base camp at Mount Everest. Now headquartered in New Bern, North Carolina, with offices in 10 locations in the United States, the company has other facilities in London, Hamburg and Moscow. Its worldwide team includes more than 200 logistics specialists and sales professionals. As Steven Gruning, Vice President Global Sales & Marketing explains, 2018 has already started with major projects.

The last time we spoke you were planning for the Winter Olympics and FIFA World Cup. How did your operation for PyeongChang go – and how are plans for Russia progressing?

The Korea Winter Olympics operation has gone very smooth, TV equipment moves relatively quickly compared to other items such as overlay that SOS handles. Our operation continues for almost one full year after an Olympic Games closing ceremony. This positions SOS with a unique advantage during Games as we often are some of the first boots on the ground, laying the groundwork for customers to have smooth efficient operation.

Steven Gruning, SOS Global Vice President Global Sales & Marketing

Our primary World Cup team is based in Moscow to manage the IBC along with two stadiums. Additionally, we have team members at each of the other ten cities to ensure complete coverage throughout the event for our clients. With full operational and administrative support from our German and USA headquarters, SOS can provide customs clearance under FIFA special procedure and Carnet ATA.

Additional services include offering a fully integrated suite of services around all major forms of transport from airfreight, ocean, trucking, warehousing and onsite management…culminating with door-to-door service for our clients.

You once described your ethos as a ‘passion for the extraordinary’. Can you quote an example of meeting that passion?

What drives our passion for the freight forwarding and overall supply chain industry can be summarised in three parts:

First, you absolutely need to be passionate about learning and incorporating new industry trends such as technology, regulations, and processes. But also, delivering these learnings in an efficient and client-friendly manner that ultimate drives an improved customer experience.

Secondly, our clients have come to expect and depend on our team to deliver consistently under any circumstances. This trust is earned over time and is something we instil throughout our organisation and something we never compromise. Simply put, being passionate about exceeding our client’s expectation is core to our brand.

Lastly, since our inception in 1986, we’ve operated as a family run business, and one constant has held true over this time: we treat our clients as an extension of our corporate family. SOS Global Express has been built by establishing long-term partnerships, and we are passionate about protecting these relationships.

Example: And again, from a World Cup standpoint, one of our primary concerns is the distance between several of the venues — over 3000kms — and the challenge this presents our team due to the limited logistical options available.

To overcome this potential issue, we decided to personally visit each location and perform our own site survey. Therefore, given us the advantage of real-time information and intimate knowledge of each venue. From that point, we could source from reliable and local suppliers/vendors to ensure operational success.

Can you give us an idea of how your service operates – from initial contact to final delivery of items to a venue or location?

What separates SOS Global Express from our competition is the ability to provide creative and unique solutions to our clients’ shipping needs, no matter the industry. We have specialists in-house that are passionate about delivering solutions across the entire lifecycle of each event. We start by understanding your objectives and then applying our expertise and services so that we can deliver a turnkey solution that not only provides our clients with best in class service, but hopefully a competitive market advantage as well.

A recent example to better demonstrate our approach to a large global event is our current

A nice picture: The containers neatly arranged at the IBC in South Korea for Winter Olympics 2018

involvement with World Cup preparations. To ensure smooth local and international operations, we are in constant contact with Russian customs and Local Organising Committee (LOC). This is critical for the overall success of this project as we need to minimise any potential risk to our clients’ gear being delayed at the border upon arrival.

Additionally, SOS Global proactively meets with customs authorities on a regular basis to share any updates on schedule changes or amendments to legislation that might impact our clients. And at this point, we are proud to state we’ve experienced no major interruptions or issues with Russian state authorities.

Moving equipment or goods from A to B is just one part of your service. What do you offer when it comes to short and long-term storage?

Including company-owned facilities and partners, we offer storage worldwide both short and long-term. One of the key benefits of using a freight-forwarder like SOS is that we remain flexible, not restricted to using certain ‘company operated facilities’, but finding resources for our clients that best meet their needs. Outside of moving from point A to B, we focus a great deal of effort on full season/tour logistics meaning moving from event to event or game to game often consisting of managing multiple kits and managing partners along the way.

Can you explain how your customers can keep track of their shipments?

SOS Global Express has developed proprietary systems that allow us to track each asset in real-time that not only encompasses initial distribution and delivery, but also pick up and return to their point of origin.

Do you have future plans you can discuss?

Rarely do we have downtimes anymore, planning and quotes for Japan 2020 Olympics started as early as 2016! Same could be said about 2019 Women’s World Cup France, 2019 Rugby World Cup Japan and 2022 Qatar World Cup as our teams are actively preparing for these events.