Meet Our People: Ton van Grinsven
Welcome to our exclusive "Meet the People" series, where we take you behind the scenes to meet the dedicated individuals powering Customs Support. These passionate professionals play a pivotal role in ensuring the success of our mission: empowering your global trade.
In this edition, we are excited to present Ton van Grinsven, a previous co-owner of Customs Support, who has been working as director of international business development for over 20 years with the company.
Join us as he shares his comprehensive career and some of the history of Customs Support with us.
Who are you?
I am Ton van Grinsven; I am 63 years old, and I have been working with Customs Support for over 20 years. The group was called Port Support when I joined it, as we used to do forwarding as well.
I joined the group with the arrangement that my role would be in international business development, but I actually started as a temporary CEO. During my time as temporary CEO, I restructured the company. This restructuring is part of what led us to be so proud of neutrality and our now globally known name.
We discovered that many clients needed customs support more than forwarding support, and that's what we do best! We dedicated ourselves to becoming the number one digital and neutral provider of customs matters. And so, we decided to focus on that and rename the group Customs Support to reflect our revised offering as a neutral provider of customs.
After the restructure and rebranding, I began my role as the director of international business development. At that time, we were not as big as we are now, but we had expanded to Belgium and were located in several ports.
What does your role as a director of international business development include?
I work with companies who need to utilise our services across multiple countries, structuring large service offerings and ensuring that we have the operation in place to service them.
Typically, my customers are those who need us in more than three countries and have reached a particular turnover. With Brexit and our development of digitalisation in customs, I work with setting up mirror (end-to-end) customs clearances and EDI integrations throughout clients’ supply chains.
The partnerships that we create are not quick contracts, and we aim to work with these accounts for at least three years. However, many of our accounts have been with us for far longer than this. I believe this is because I like to work on long-term relationships and because we are always innovating. We are partners, not just customs brokers.
Over time, my role has also changed and become more twofold. As well as working on international business development with customers, I also work in an advisory role to our Europe leadership team on expanding into countries where we do not yet have a presence.
Customs Support currently has offices in 13 countries, but we also have network partners in other countries. Part of my role is assessing companies which we can partner with or acquire, and advising Europe leadership team on how to proceed in these countries where we do not yet have a physical presence.
Besides this, I am a member of the Board of International Trade (Shippers Council) from Evo-Fenedex.
What do you like most about the role and how it’s changed over the years?
I like that there is a diversity of skills required in my role, so it is always interesting. What I also like, though, is the range of skillsets that I have to offer clients and the area that we can offer them in.
Customs Support has experienced significant growth over the past 20 years. We are now capable of fulfilling nearly every customs requirement across Europe, supported by our exceptional IT department.
These are things our competitors don’t have, and it’s also been great to see us grow into this position over the last couple of decades.
Another thing that I like is that I can provide quick decisions to my clients. If they have a particular challenge, then I can give them a solution without jumping through too many hoops. It can often be difficult to obtain a quick response in an international corporation, but thankfully for Customs Support it isn’t a problem, thanks to our digital capabilities, our full-service offering and that I know can trust in my colleagues to deliver every time.
It’s a privilege to have that support as an international business development, and I value the team I have working with me when I am putting together our offerings.
What do you like to do outside of work unwind?
I am married, and my wife and I have cherished 39 wonderful years together. Our family includes three children: two sons and one daughter. During the summer, we enjoy hiking and biking, and come winter, our family ventures to Austria where my youngest son lives for some festive skiing adventures.
I love sports, and go biking most weekends with my wife, or we go for long walks with the dogs. During the week I could be travelling for work, but I always get my fitness in around that. To be fit and healthy is important.
What is the most important thing a client should look for in a customs broker?
Flexibility. Our customers trust us to be flexible to what they need without breaking compliance or service. We have the right processes, technology, and expertise to innovate within the confines of what we can do. It’s a skill to tread that line, and we do it well.
Your flexible, knowledgeable, skilled, dedicated, customs partner, working with businesses like yours throughout the EU and UK. Wherever in Europe you need customs clearance or consultancy, we are here to make it easy for you. Contact us today for more information.