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AHFA Program will Mitigate Spike in Shipping Rates

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The American Home Furnishings Alliance is finalizing details of a container program that will help mitigate shipping rate increases for some member companies. The program, which includes ocean carrier services to both the East and West coasts, continues efforts by the Alliance this year to develop programs and services that help member companies tackle global logistics challenges. AHFA’s preferred shipping rates were locked in just prior to the announcement of increases that took effect May 1, says Brent Burton, AHFA’s vice president of transportation and logistics. In addition, AHFA was able to successfully negotiate a peak-season surcharge significantly below the standard $400 per 40-foot container announced last week. AHFA’s program is designed to be particularly beneficial for small- to mid-size importers who would have a difficult time negotiating lower rates based on their volume. The program also provides an attractive option to larger importers who may need additional space when ocean vessels reach capacity during the busy peak season. AHFA member companies interested in comparing their current container rates with the Alliance’s program should contact Burton at 336/884-5000, ext. 111. The Alliance intends to negotiate attractive export rates to be added to the carrier contracts. AHFA’s growing menu of logistics-related programs and services also now addresses a key domestic transportation issue: rising fuel costs. Last November the Alliance rolled out a fuel card program offering member companies discounts on diesel fuel purchased at any Wilco or Loves Travel Stops. “The average savings per fuel purchase is tracking at 12 to 14 cents per gallon on total combined purchases of 400,000 gallons a month,” says Burton. “AHFA’s goal is to achieve the one-million-gallons-a-month mark in order to obtain additional discounts for participating members.” For even smaller shipments, AHFA offers a discount program with Federal Express on both inbound and outbound small package shipments. Of the 75 companies on the program, five are accessory and accent furniture companies. These five are saving an average of $3,600 per quarter on their FedEx shipments, Burton reports. “There is no one model for success in today’s global marketplace,” notes AHFA CEO Andy Counts. “Therefore, we will continue to diversify our programs and services in our efforts to promote the growth and global leadership of our member companies.”

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