Southeast Distribution Association (SEDA), a not-for- profit forest products shippers association, has successfully established partnerships with several ocean carriers and has begun moving its first containers in March. SEDA was founded in 2007 by 12 companies involved in international shipping of lumber, logs, and other forest products. The intent of the SEDA founders was to establish direct ocean freight contracts for its membership by pooling their container volumes. By doing so, the founding members sought to take more control over the shipping process and costs by dealing directly with ocean carriers instead of through a third party. Ryan Turman, of Turman-Mercer, was the original organizer of the Association and currently serves as the Association’s president. ‘We are excited to have finally gotten the Association off the ground. The concept is very appealing to forest product companies and our membership is growing quickly now that we have preferred rates established with our carrier partners.’
Graham Hill, president of Anglo-American Hardwoods and co-founder, became an officer and member of the Board in 2008. ‘It was apparent to me that Anglo-American needed to take more control over the shipping process and our ocean rates. By combining our container volumes in SEDA we were able to attract attention from carriers and negotiate our own contracts,’ commented Hill. CV International, Inc. (CVI), a Norfolk, VA based freight forwarder, was hired by SEDA in 2009 to assist in contract negotiations, contract management, and freight forwarding. Mike Coleman, president of CVI, is very optimistic about SEDA’s future. ‘There are many Associations in the market-place that were started and are run by third parties as a part of a for-profit business model. SEDA was started by shippers, it is run by shippers, and it serves to directly benefit its membership. That quality makes it unique and very attractive to members,’ stated Coleman. To-date, SEDA has five partner carriers offering competitive ocean freight rates to every destination in the world. The current SEDA membership comprises fourteen companies moving over 10,000 containers per year. SEDA is run by a Board of Directors comprised of members and its appointed officers.