Employee Spotlight: Rosemarie Susino, Terminal Manager

Rosemarie Susino didn’t intend to build a career at Horizon Air Freight. In 1984, she was going to school at night, taking classes in science and medicine, and planning to go into medical laboratory work. During the days, she worked at Horizon as a receptionist to pay her way through school.

That was 36 years ago.

Horizon Goes Global and Susino Grows With It

Horizon was a smaller company then, handling mostly U.S. import/export and domestic marine shipping logistics.

“We didn’t even have computers when I started working here,” says Susino. “Back then everything was manual. We would write shipping labels by hand. Now everything’s computer automated.”

But as the company grew, Susino grew with it. She worked for a while in the ocean export department, and soon she was managing the department. She would also cover for people in the air freight department when they went on vacation. For a while, she worked in the billing department.

“I’ve worked in almost every department,” she says, “and I’ve always worn more than one hat.”

In the late 1980s, Horizon started its foreign routing department and began expanding into global marine logistics. Susino was part of that expansion from the very beginning and a key player in its success, which first established Horizon in the global marine logistics market.

Today, Susino is the terminal manager, part of the upper management team working closely with CEO Steve Leondis, at Horizon’s world headquarters in New York City. The export department, routing department, and ocean and air departments all answer to her. Shipping quotes, customer service, billing, insurance claims… “I’m really involved in almost everything,” she says.

Never the Same Day Twice

Susino enjoys the diverse demands of her position. “That’s what makes the job very interesting,” she says. “This is never the same day twice. You come in and don’t know what to expect. I have such a variety of work, and that’s what I like.”

She might spend one day mostly answering emails, then come in the next day to a request by a client to move 10,000 kilos across the world overnight. “Sometimes it’s just drop everything and figure out a way,” she says, “and sometimes that gets very intense.”

That can mean long days and after-hours follow-ups, but Susino is just fine with that. “I have to be moving all the time,” she says. “I wouldn’t want to sit and do the same thing all day long.”

Still a Family Business at Heart

Susino is glad she decided to stay at Horizon and build her career with the company. “It was always a family business, and even today we all work together closely, like a family. We help each other and have each other’s backs. If somebody makes a mistake, somebody else chimes in to help.”

It all comes down to serving Horizon’s clients well. “We understand the needs of our clients,” she says, “and we know how urgent those needs are. So we all come together and make things happen for them.”

“We always find a way to get it done,” she says, adding that the people in the various departments she oversees handle most of the shipments. “But when it’s a very large shipment or urgent, then I give my insights and ideas, or even start making phone calls to assist.”

It’s always a team effort, but, as Susino says, “One way or another, we always get it done.”

Pulling Rabbits Out of Hats to Connect the World

Horizon’s Bridget Aglio Keeps a Major Undersea Cable Operator Shipshape and On-Schedule

At Horizon, we have the privilege and pleasure of working with many customers doing remarkable work around the world. Commercial fleets are the foundation of the global economy, and offshore platforms keep that economy powered and running. Fishing fleets feed us well, and research vessels help us better understand our planet. Military vessels keep our seas safe, protecting us all. Our customers inspire us, and we’re honored to support their important work.

One of our customers develops, deploys, and operates undersea communications cable. They’re one of the largest and most respected companies in this space, and for more than half a century they’ve connected the world with the backbone of the information economy. Whether you’re conducting international business via video conference, making an online purchase from an overseas provider, sharing data from a remote research station, or placing an international call to a friend or family member, there’s a good chance our customer made it possible.

Their cable-laying and cable repair ships are often at sea for 2-3 months at a time, laying or maintaining thousands of miles of cable, then only in port to resupply for a day, sometimes only a few hours. Even minor delays are costly to them, with potential six-figure revenue losses and heavy contract penalties.

That’s way, for all their spares and equipment, they turn to Horizon.

“When I need to get something delivered,” says the customer’s senior procurement manager, “and I can’t have any screw-ups in the whole process of pickup to delivery to the vessel, Horizon is someone who you learn to rely upon. So many times they’ve pulled a rabbit out of a hat.”

Horizon’s Bridget Aglio leads the team that supports this customer, and, as Horizon CEO Steve Leondis says of her, “She pulls rabbits out of hats all day long.”

Ship-Stopper Saved by an Overnight Repack

Netherlands to Taiwan

One night not long ago, Aglio received a call from the customer. An engine failure had a ship dead in the water in Taiwan, in the Port of Kaohsiung. A vendor in Amsterdam had the parts needed to repair it, but the oversized pipes weren’t properly packed for air freight. No air carrier would accept them.

The vendor could outsource repacking of the parts, but it would take days to complete, days that would cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Aglio contacted Horizon’s Amsterdam office, and, in the middle of the night, they sent a truck to pick up the goods from the vendor. Horizon’s team repacked the pipes overnight and had them on a plane to Taiwan the next morning. Less than 48 hours after the initial call, the ship was repaired and got back to work.

Flying Flares to Seoul During a Global Pandemic

Spain to South Korea

Transporting explosive materials internationally is complicated even in normal times. Such shipments have to be specially packaged. Dangerous goods forms have to be filled out and approved. Importers must be licensed to accept the goods. And only providers with specialized certifications can do any of this.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 80% of planes grounded and many international borders closed, it all might seem impossible.

But our customer needed a delivery of new safety flares to replace expiring flares on one of their ships. The company doesn’t compromise on the safety of its crews. There was a narrow delivery window available when the ship would be in Seoul for one day. If the flares didn’t arrive, the company would have to idle the ship until they did, costing the ship thousands of dollars in additional expenses.

Flares and other explosive materials have to be transported on cargo-only planes, so all passenger flights were out. And closed borders eliminated what would have been the standard routing for the shipment.

Aglio found a way, an alternate routing with available cargo-only flights and customs clearances she could navigate during the pandemic. (Like a good magician, she won’t reveal all the secrets of this routing.) Her team received the flares, verified they were properly packed, issued the relevant dangerous goods forms, and got them on a plane. Aglio also coordinated with Horizon’s South Korean consignee to confirm they would be able to clear the shipment upon arrival.

Hours before the company’s ship arrived in the Port of Incheon, the flares were there, awaiting it.

Beat the Vessels to Port

Aglio does reveal one of her rabbit-pulling secrets. “The key,” she says, “is to get there before the vessel arrives. It gives you more time for customs clearance, and more time in case of a problem. If a truck breaks down, you’ll have time to find another to complete the delivery.”

Add in her passionate commitment to her customers and some marine logistics magic, and you begin to understand how Aglio keeps pulling those rabbits out of those hats. It’s just another day on the job for her as she helps our customer connect the world.

Employee Spotlight: Travis Feinberg

A Merchant Marine Joins the Horizon Team

Some sound advice from his dad and a weekend call from his Congresswoman set Travis Feinberg on a bearing that would take him to major ports all around the world. One of the newest members of the Horizon team, he now applies his expertise in maritime logistics, operations, and safety to keeping our customers sailing safely and on schedule.

A Call From His Congresswoman Sets a New Course

“When I was in high school, my dad mentioned to me that he was supposed to go to the United States Merchant Marine Academy,” says Feinberg, “but he didn’t follow up on the things that he needed to do to actually attend. And he said that if I didn’t at least try, I would be selling myself short.”

Feinberg had always found comfort and solace on the water, but he was drawn even more by the opportunity to travel. “I wanted to explore other countries,” he says, “and broaden my perspective on the world.”

So he did all the hard work of applying to the academy. “The next thing I knew,” he says, “my Congresswoman [Representative Carolyn McCarthy] was calling me on a weekend to tell me, ‘Hey Travis, just want to let you know: you’ve been accepted to the United States Merchant Marine Academy.’”

Inspired to Excel at the Merchant Marine Academy

Feinberg entered the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point in the summer of 2012. Good grades had come easily to him in high school, but he soon realized that, for the first time in his life, he was going to have to push himself.

“I looked around and saw students who were way more diligent than I was,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow, look how much studying they’re doing. Perhaps I should follow suit.’”

He dove into his studies with a passion, taking 176 credits (the typical bachelors degree is about 130 credits) and earning two awards for academic excellence along the way. “I learned very quickly how to deal with a full plate,” he says.

Four years later, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in logistics, materials, and supply chain management. He also earned his U.S Coast Guard Third Mate Unlimited Tonnage license and was commissioned into the U.S. Navy Reserve as an ensign.

For all his academic accomplishments, though, he gives the greatest credit to his fellow students for inspiring him.

“Surrounding yourself with people who lift you up or make you want to be better,” says Feinberg, “is probably the greatest thing you can do for your own personal development.”

Sailing with Crowley Maritime

Fresh out of the Merchant Marine Academy, Feinberg accepted a position with Crowley Maritime as Third Mate on the Ocean Glory, a heavy-lift tramp vessel and then the National Glory, a container vessel. He would spend the next nearly four years sailing all over the world.

“There were two kinds of days,” he says, “at sea days and port days.”

On sea days, he would stand two four-hour navigational watches and spend another four hours ensuring that all fire safety, lifesaving equipment, and other key operational systems were in good condition and met all federal guidelines.

On port days, cargo was king, and Feinberg would spend his 12-hour days overseeing the loading and unloading of cargo. He was the main point of contact with shoreside crew and responsible for the safety of all cargo operations.

He worked hard, long days, but he liked the challenges and developed a strong work ethic.

In 2018, the National Glory’s crew was named International Crew of the Year by Safety at Sea International magazine for their courageous work delivering relief supplies to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, navigating their ship safely around three other hurricanes along the way.

The Lessons of Other Nations

Feinberg visited about 30 countries during his time with Crowley, and, as he had hoped, the people he met there broadened his perspective, teaching him gratitude, humility, and the importance of friends and family.

“There was this boy in Bangladesh,” he says. “he was literally playing with rocks just to pass the time.”

The boy didn’t speak English and Feinberg didn’t speak Bengali, but he noticed the boy was wearing a Lionel Messi jersey. Feinberg had competed in soccer in school and still plays it recreationally today, so he knew the world-famous captain of the Argentinian national team.

Despite the language barrier, he was able to communicate to the boy that he liked soccer and was a fan of Messi too. “The smile on his face… it was like the greatest thing to him and it truly made his day, and so it made mine too. Such a simple thing made him so happy.”

Another time, in South Korea, Feinberg and some of his friends went to dinner at a local restaurant. “It was the kind of place where they cook the meat in front of you,” he says, and the owner struck up a conversation with them as their meal was prepared.

Later, the owner invited them to come with him to another restaurant he also owned, just down the street, telling them they could drink for free. They accepted the offer, and they all kept up the conversation late into the night. Later, the owner hailed a cab, paid the fare, spoke to the driver for them, and made sure they were safely on their way.

“Hospitality means something different there,” he says. “Here I was, eating and drinking for free, just because the guy who ran the restaurant took a liking to me and my friends.”

Joining the Horizon Team

For all that he loved about sailing, the months at a time away from family and friends began to wear on Feinberg.

“I was living my life three months at a time,” he says. “I’d head out to sea thinking, ‘Oh, I just can’t wait to get back home to be with my family, friends, girlfriend, dogs… And I was missing out on so much: holidays, my birthday, celebrating my girlfriend’s promotion. If you miss out on the big things, you’re missing out on everything.”

So he reached out to Horizon, where he had completed an internship while at the Merchant Marine Academy. Soon after, CEO Steve Leondis offered him a job.

“Everybody at Horizon works so hard,” he says. “I kind of fit right in. But it’s also very familial. I was so warmly accepted, right away.”

Once again, he found himself surrounded by people who inspired him to do better every day.

“There’s not an ounce of clock-watching—everyone enjoys being in the office” he says. “We work hard, but there’s never any tension or drama. It’s a very team-oriented atmosphere, and everybody’s rowing in the same direction.”

The other people who have lifted him up along the way are still part of his daily interactions. Fellow students from Kings Point work with all the major maritime shipping companies, so Feinberg often finds himself collaborating with them to serve their marine logistics needs. And Crowley is a Horizon customer, so he is regularly in touch with his former crewmates, still working every day to keep their ships safe and their operations running smoothly.

“There’s no better feeling than being valuable and making a real contribution,” he says. “We want to grow so much at Horizon. We want to do better and be better, and that makes it exciting to show up every day.”