We’ve been experiencing record growth at Horizon this year, welcoming new faces and expanding our diverse pool of talented, hard-working people — all dedicated to keeping your fleets safe, shipshape, and running on time. But we’re also blessed with many veteran team members who have stayed with us over our decades of change.
In the interest of ensuring our values and mission remain on course for our employees and our clients in this time of expansion, we checked in with a few key players to understand what makes Horizon a place they keep coming back to, day after day and year after year. Here’s what they had to say.
Our Executive Vice President, Jim Gassert, has been with Horizon for 42 years. In the early days of his career with us, he oversaw exportation in our Hellenic aerospace program, formed in partnership with the Greek Air Force and NATO. From there, he evolved into air and ocean exporting, and did fill-in work for our domestic department. Eventually, he moved into the role of Import Manager, where he worked for many years until just recently transitioning to his current role.
“I’ve grown and evolved quite a bit,” Jim confirms. “And one of the big attractions of this business is that it really allows you to do that. You can be in any one of the different universes in which we operate, which keeps things fun and interesting.”
This opportunity to evolve was a big part of what attracted Jim to Horizon in the first place. “When I started I was very young,” he elaborates, “looking for something that was different, challenging. Not just physical labor, but a job that included problem solving, and would encourage me to be a part of a team to help solve issues collaboratively. Even to this day there’s always a flux in a client’s needs, so it’s still a great place for anyone looking for challenge and change.”
That Horizon was small and family-owned at the time was also a draw. “I was looking for a secure job that would have longevity,” Jim asserts. “My dad had been with the Long Island Lighting company most of his life, and I wanted something similar. When Horizon started it was family-owned, and though we’ve moved past those days into being a global provider and leader in what we do, the leadership team still maintains that same touch with the workforce. Direct communication with leadership is not only available but encouraged. To be able to have a voice with leadership on any topic, even if you’re a new addition, is encouraged and a great asset.”
Jim also observes he isn’t the only one who has remained dedicated to Horizon. “We are in a unique niche, and that affords us long-standing relationships with clientele that have stayed with us through the years. Rarely does a client leave us. When they’re onboarded, we do everything we can to make them very comfortable and very satisfied, generating a loyalty that will carry through.”
To illustrate how dedicated we are to our clients, he shares a story: “A Greek ship owner wanted to build a duplicate of a chapel that was in his mother’s home town, so that she could replicate her experience as a young girl in Greece even though she had relocated in upstate New York. So he had the chapel built in Greece, and then wanted to ship it over. This all sounded well and good, until we discovered the completed chapel was extremely tall and heavy, and had to be trucked through small towns upstate. I was responsible for ushering the project from beginning to end, and personally accompanied it as we traveled. Sometimes the electrical wires would have to be propped up with wooden poles to allow the truck to pass through on our pilgrimage. Obviously it was a difficult logistical move with all of the customs, permits, and transports to arrange, but when it was in place — not a single pane of stained glass even cracked —and looking so beautiful, everyone was so gracious and thankful for all the efforts.”
Now Jim is pleased to pass along his knowledge to others. “This is a fun time for me,” he reflects, “because I have a chance to mentor to some degree and to share some of these experiences, hopefully in a way that will be fruitful for the people who listen, and will help them as they start to do their own 20 – 30 years with us. That’s fun, because it’s no longer about me; it’s about us, and particular people who have the skill set and the ability to grow and rise. Our business is not written down in a book. It’s a spider web of information that can be used at any one point, and now I’m helping them navigate that web to make the right choice. It’s satisfying to get the chance to let others stand in the sunshine, hopefully in a way that will help make it just as interesting, fun, and challenging for them as it was for me. It’s very rewarding to share, mentor and give.”
Though she’s about to celebrate her one-year anniversary with Horizon, Sales Operations Manager Dicle Deveci was no newcomer to shipping logistics when she started with us. She came with ten years of experience at both small and large firms, and is now enthusiastically sharing that experience and knowledge with us. “I want to take my learnings from corporate life, and tailor it to Horizon to help make them successful in expanding,” she says. “Even though we are a niche company, we would like our customers to feel they are having a corporate-level experience.”
Having the chance to share her expertise is one of the things Dicle appreciates most about Horizon. “The more an organization becomes corporatized,” she explains, “inevitably, you are distanced from the operations side, because your tasks become more specialized. Here, working for a niche company, everyone is open to the exchange of information and solutions. This creates great momentum that’s professionally rewarding because we’ve already started to see the fruits of our work within just a year.”
Because she was moving from a big, well-known company to a smaller firm, Dicle admits she was unsure about the transition at first. She wondered if she would fit in, and how the organization would run. “But from day one,” she says happily, “I felt like I had been working there for more than a year. Everyone was warm, helpful, welcoming. All the question marks went away right away.”
“This warmth and welcome is extended to our clients, too,” Dicle continues. “Horizon forms relationships with our customers as a partnership. It’s not just transactional, but a long-term partnership. We are trying to make their lives easier. We build trust; we want to help them grow their business, so it’s a two-way relationship and not just a balance sheet. We want to grow and learn with them by passing on our market intelligence. We have had customers for over 20 years, and that long-term partnership really makes us stand out.”
Dicle also echoes Jim when she points out another outstanding aspect of working at Horizon: “Our industry is very dynamic. It’s not repetitive. Every day there is a new challenge. If you want to build your skill set or challenge yourself each day, the industry and the company is the way to go. You gain insights into yourself, develop problem-solving skills, and adopt fresh perspectives for every challenge. Creative thinking plays a crucial role in the industry. And you have teammates all over the world.”
Import Manager Sviatlana Bareka is another relatively new addition to the Horizon team — having celebrated her first anniversary with us in June — but like Dicle and Jim, she too is thrilled by the growth potential and supportive environment she’s found.
“Horizon has a positive company culture,” she says, “and the company provides opportunities to learn from experienced professionals and to contribute to delivering exceptional experiences to customers while ensuring a ‘family like’ environment in the office. With the support of its extremely talented management team, Horizon keeps employees engaged, motivated, and goal-driven. This makes Horizon a great place to grow and achieve long term goals and objectives.”
Though this is her first managerial role, Sviatlana had a great deal of logistics experience when she started with us, including working with clients, shipping agencies, and brokers. When she received her Customs Brokers license in 2022, and this new opportunity arose, “I made the decision and I’ve never regretted it,” she says happily. “They invest a lot in the personnel and the technology. They are really growing and it’s been great to be a part of.”
Like her counterparts, Sviatlana is also pleased to be a part of something unique. “We’re not selling products,” she explains, “we’re selling services. The whole team is working hard to make arrangements to take care of freight, customs clearance, delivery — all delivered to the vessels on time. We are doing something unique in the field, because we are not delivering to regular customers but to the vessels themselves. It involves a lot of arrangements, which forces Horizon to work hard as a team. Horizon is a company with a great reputation, and its positive brand image built over 53 years is what attracts and retains customers.”
And she’s already been put through her paces. “I can remember handling the heaviest piece of equipment in Horizon’s history (around 45MT), shipped by ocean as RORO cargo. We faced multiple challenges, as a lot of coordination was involved. We had to request a special appointment at the port, which required crane arrangements, and extra payment for loading/unloading, because the crane was available only on specific days. Because the cargo was oversized and overweight, a special truck needed to be hired for transportation, with special permits. Plus there was a lot of coordination with the consignee as they needed to make the same arrangements at the facility: getting a crane, as well as an unloading team.”
But to Sviatlana, it was all worth it. “The project was completed successfully, and we got lots of positive feedback from the satisfied customer.”
Situations like this one — paired with our future plans — keep Sviatlana growing, too. “There are many stories in logistics,” she says. “We are facing unique and unpredictable situations on a daily basis. This is my first managerial role, and I am very grateful to the company for their trust, and for providing me with an opportunity to transform my team. Horizon invests in technologies and personnel and is continuously growing. We are currently in the process of implementing a brand new working platform. The company has grown a ton since my arrival last year.”
We are grateful for Sviatlana, Dicle, and Jim for their hard work and dedication — along with that of every team member. We look forward to supporting their ascendence, and also to growing more with you. To learn more about how we can help you get your fleets whatever they need, wherever they need it, delivered door-to-deck, on time and on budget, start a conversation with us today.