Getting a Gear Assembly from Gujarat to Busan in Seven Days

The call came in over the weekend.

A vessel needed a new gear assembly for its engine. The 2600-kilo part was in a remote area of Gujarat, India. The ship would be in Busan, South Korea in one week.

Rosemarie Susino took the call. Recently promoted to executive vice president, she had long been Horizon’s terminal manager at our headquarters near JFK. She knew that getting the gear assembly out of India in a hurry was going to be a challenge.

“The service from India is very slow,” she says. “There are so many customs regulations and a lot of red tape.” The paperwork could easily delay delivery for days, so she and her team started making calls.

From the Supplier to Abu Dhabi

Susino immediately called the supplier in Gujarat to make arrangements while Horizon’s partner in India got to work on clearing the delivery for export.

By Monday morning, the gear assembly was ready for pickup, and Horizon had a truck waiting to load it at the supplier’s facility.

By Tuesday, we had cleared the export through customs and transported it to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, in Ahmedabad, where our partner loaded it on a plane to Abu Dhabi. In Abu Dhabi, we coordinated transfer of the gear assembly to a flight to South Korea.

From Seoul to Busan

“The flight service from India to Busan is horrible,” says Susino, “so we flew it to Incheon,” the international airport serving Seoul.

Flying to Incheon instead of Busan got the gear assembly into South Korea much faster, but its journey wasn’t over yet. Seoul is about 200 miles (325 kilometers) from the Port of Busan, in the opposite corner of the country. So after clearing customs at Incheon on Saturday, we loaded the part onto one of our trucks and headed for Busan, arriving early Sunday morning.

A Stop by the Shop, Then Shipshape and Ready to Sail

Given the marine background of the members on the Horizon team, we know that is not always as simple as delivering an urgent spare part that gets installed as is. Technicians and specialists are often needed to inspect and install large critical Main Engine components, adding to the time it takes for the part to be put into service on the vessel. In this instance our customer needed the gear assembly inspected and prepped at a Busan maintenance shop before it could be installed, so we delivered it directly to the shop.

From there, the technicians took over, preparing the gear assembly then delivering it to the vessel. The ship’s crew soon had it installed and ready to go. They set sail the same day, right on schedule.

For Susino, it was just another week on the job. “For all of our customers,” she says, “we do whatever it takes.”

Do you need help getting your critical spares delivered on time from any vendor worldwide? Call us today at 800-221-6028 or contact us anytime. We’ll do whatever it takes to keep your fleet on schedule.

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.”

Horizon Air Freight’s Steve Leondis on Lenz on Business

Horizon CEO Steve Leondis recently sat down for an in-depth interview with “Lenz on Business,” a weekly business radio show that airs on WSB Radio, home to the largest news-talk audience in the country. In a far-ranging conversation, Leondis and host Jon Waterhouse discussed the founding of Horizon Air Freight in 1970, the company’s growth over the past 50 years, and his work with daughter Devon to help vulnerable children in Ghana and Zambia.

On His Family Immigrating to America

Steve’s father, Anthony Leondis, and his mother came to America in 1956 with Steve’s three older siblings. (Steve was not born yet.) Although of Greek and Italian origin, the family immigrated from Sudan.

“They wanted to give their children a better education,” says Leondis.

The Leondis family settled in Brooklyn, where Steve’s father was soon working three jobs while his mother worked at the post office and took care of the children. The days were long, but they knew they were giving their children opportunities to pursue the American dream.

On Starting Horizon with a Typewriter and a Delta 88

Anthony still wanted more for his family. He wanted them to live comfortably while doing good work in the world. So in 1970, he borrowed $600 from a friend, rented out a tiny office near JFK airport, and started Horizon Air Freight,

“He knew a little bit about freight and about the shipping industry,” says Leondis, “so he leveraged some contacts and began to move ship parts.”

In the early days, Anthony worked alone, often driving to customers in his Oldsmobile Delta 88 and filling out orders with a typewriter he kept in the car. The business was challenging, but Anthony started to build a name for Horizon and soon had to hire more staff to handle all the work.

On a Good Education and Lessons from Basketball

Fulfilling his parents’ hopes when they came to America, Leondis was accepted to Yale University and joined the basketball team. In 1980, he was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year and went on to score the third-most career field goals in Yale history.

“This was back when we were wearing leather Converse and there was no three-point line,” says Leondis.

The discipline, dedication, and teamwork he learned playing basketball would stick with him long after Yale.

“It helped me immensely as I navigated into the business career,” he says.

Seeing how basketball had helped his own success in life, in 2006 Leondis founded “Hoops on the Hill,” a non-profit organization that empowers at-risk teenagers and helps them develop their potential.

In 2020, Leondis was named one of the Legends of Ivy League Basketball in recognition of his college basketball achievements, business success, and contributions to his community.

On Joining the Family Business

Leondis wasn’t sure at first if he wanted to join the family business. His two brothers and sister were already working there while he was at Yale, and he considered striking out on his own. However, in his junior year, his father came and asked him to work for Horizon for just one year after college, to give it a chance. If he didn’t like it, he could pursue whatever he wanted instead.

Leondis agreed and started out learning the business from the bottom up. His first job was at a warehouse, loading trucks and receiving cargo. He soon discovered that he liked the business and enjoyed working in its family environment, a culture in which not only his actual relations but everyone who worked there was treated like family.

Over time, he gravitated toward operational and sales roles, and he helped lead the company’s growth. When his father was ready to retire, Leondis took over as CEO in 2014.

On Giving Back With His Daughter

On a family trip back to Africa to see where the Leondis family had come to America from, Steve’s daughter, Devon Leondis, was inspired with a “burning desire to help vulnerable children and orphans in Africa,” says Steve. “She raised money for her sweet 16 to provide fresh drinking water wells in Ghana.”

Wanting to do more, she went on to found Project Nyame Nsa. (The name means “God’s helping hands” in Twi, the dominant dialect of the Akan language in Ghana.) Steve sits on the board of directors.

The organization is dedicated to building villages with holistic support services for vulnerable and orphaned children in remote areas of Africa. They have completed their first project in Ghana and have one now underway in Zambia.

“It’s very dear to my heart,” says Leondis. “People should give back in this world.”

Listen to the Full Interview

If you’d like to hear more of the conversation, listen to the full interview at Lenz on Business.

Lenz on Business is presented by Georgia College’s J. Whitney Bunting College of Business. Listen live on Saturday nights at 6 p.m. on News 95.5, AM 750 WSB, and WSBRadio.com.

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.”