Michael Hughes of Arpin International Group details the who, what, and where of global shipping trends.
I recently sat down with Michael Hughes, vice president of global business development at Arpin International Group, for a One Take conversation about how Arpin continues to innovate how it relocates household goods. From a street artist in Singapore to a freighter fire in Hong Kong, our discussion took us around the world by boat, air, and all the various ways personal items travel for relocating employees.
We started by discussing the big-picture trends driving the moving and shipping industry today. Shanghai, Singapore, and Toronto top the list of outbound moves, while Singapore, the U.S. West Coast, and London are the top inbound locations. These trends give us a sense of where business operations are moving.
We then talked about trends in what people are shipping. Hughes explained that while most people are taking less today than four to five years ago, the value of those goods—whether sentimental or financial—is increasing.
Hughes then gave us a behind-the-scenes look into how Arpin moves goods from place to place, emphasizing the company’s seamless integration of new technology and systems to improve the moving experience and make it less stressful for everyone involved.
Hughes explained that Arpin is always looking at technology as a complement to the services it provides, not a replacement. “The idea is that if you have the technology behind you, you free up the consultant to use their time effectively and provide empathetic solutions. It allows [the consultant] to be more human in their approach and rely on the technology to automate repetitive tasks.”
Hughes also provided a detailed account of how Arpin works directly with clients to mitigate risk in a move. “In terms of protecting or taking proactive measures to protect household goods while in transit, insurance is a great way to do that, but also in terms of prevention is the communication aspect,” Hughes said. “So really sitting down with the individuals and talking with them and coaching them through the moving process.”
Hughes noted that these issues are exacerbated by the increased uncertainty brought on by the pandemic and political instability. In addition, with supply chain complications persisting, the shipment of household goods is experiencing extreme unpredictability. Hughes described some of the steps Arpin is taking to mitigate these heightened risks and the tools it provides to help clients rest more easily.
“We understand … the intricacies and the nuances of global shipping. Now it’s our job to translate that into bite-sized information that’s digestible, not only to mobility professionals and our RMC counterparts, but to shippers as well,” Hughes said. “And sometimes that is so overwhelming that it becomes a very, very hard endeavor to take something incredibly complex and make it very simple.”
To make complicated shipping updates more accessible to their clients, Hughes highlighted Arpin’s MoveCENTRAL online portal that filters and interprets the moving world for each client. This innovative web platform translates complex shipping information into a user-friendly map interface to help the average person know precisely where their goods are traveling.
“Anything’s possible, so if we need to develop policies or procedures, or even resources, for an expatriate population, that’s something we can focus on, something we can do, and something we can produce,” Hughes said. “I hope people reach out to us and see what we can do to develop resources for their programs and help their assignee populations.”
Despite the challenges brought on by strained supply chains and uncertainty affecting the shipping industry, Arpin International Group continues to provide its clients with the tools and expertise necessary to confidently relocate their personal items across the globe.