A Moment to Reflect this New Year

#WeAreCustomsSupport
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As we move into 2024, we take a minute to reflect on where we started, celebrate the progress we’ve made, and look towards where we are going. Read about our history and mission in this article.

Port Support - where it all started

In 1999, our founders were working as a back-office service for the independent shipbrokers Slavenburg & Huijser, who are still around today. The service that they provided surrounded customs for shipowners, including customs clearance, generating manifests, cash-to-master for paying crews before electronic banking became the norm.

More and more shipowners wanted this service, and the decision was made to provide for more than those shipping lines represented by Slavenburgh & Huyser BV. Thus, Port Support became the first company of Customs Support.

(Did you know that Nathalie Roozen was with the S&H team from 1993, and is still with Customs Support today? She has spent an incredible 30 years in support of our customers.)

Our first acquisition

In 2000, we recognised the need for an independent customs broker and acquired Mobiel Neutraal – who specialised in secondments. Secondments are where employees are placed with another company for an extended amount of time, and our customs consultancy team still provides this interim customs supporttoday.

Redefining our purpose

By 2004, our service was split with our shipbroker offering and customs clearance. Looking at what we were doing, our customs service was becoming more important as we expanded. In 2004, we decided to lean into this direction and rebranded the company as Customs Support.

Being an independent provider of customs has always been important to us as we understand the value of neutrality. Our feelings on this were affirmed very early on when Dutch customs authorities asked us for help with changing paperwork for a whole vessel of containers – a project which could only be completed by a company with no vested interest in knowing the sensitive information of the cargo.

Beginning to grow the team

In 2007, Mentha Capital became a majority shareholder in Customs Support, allowing us to pursue a more aggressive buy and build strategy. In 2015, this journey began with the acquisition of Pompa, the customs branch of forwarder Kloosterboer Groep.

Rapid expansion then began into countries outside of The Netherlands, with Germany in 2016, Belgium in 2018, the United Kingdom in 2019, Poland and France in 2020.

In November 2020, Castik Capital became a majority shareholder for Customs Support – bringing with them enthusiasm and vision for the next stage of our growth.

We’ve gained expertise in different sectors and territories as we’ve acquired new companies and attracted top talent. Now, we provide a full spectrum of customs services for all industries in 13 countries across Europe. Whatever you need customs help with in the EU and UK, we are here for you.

Bringing the group together

Until 2020, each member of the Customs Support group continued to trade under their own brand. This was to keep the strength that the existing companies had built before acquisition.

However, the name Customs Support was also growing in strength as our customers and the market recognised our growth. Therefore, we made the decision to rebrand all our companies to Customs Support in June 2020.

Under this single brand, we would continue to build our reputation across all our countries of operation – allowing us to pursue better growth opportunities through new acquisitions and more prestigious clients. Now, all Customs Support companies are rebranded as part of their integration into the group.

Embracing digitalisation

When our company began, we were still submitting declarations on carbon paper – using a typewriter to create the official documents. We also needed to have copies of everything, so there were paper files everywhere on our declarant’s desks and in huge storage rooms.

In 2018, we began building towards being a digital-first customs company. Over time, carbon paper and boxes of files have been replaced with digital files and online backups.

Because we have increased our efficiency with digital customs connections and automation, internally and with our customers’ systems, our declarants are able to provide much more value to our clients within the customs function – without sacrificing quality, timeliness, or compliance.

The future is digital

As we continue to grow the group, we are constantly innovating, developing, and testing our digital solutions so that we can do more for you. Our Power of Attorney app, end-to-end digital customs clearance service, and digital integrations with customs warehouses are just the beginning.

Our IT and data specialists are working to evolve our machine learning and EDI customs connections even further, striving to perfect Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) so that our declarants can provide even more efficiency to your business.

You can learn more about our digital plans in this article with Director of Innovation Bardo Schütz, or with our whitepaper on digital customs.

Join us on our journey in 2024

Whether you are a multinational giant or a family-run store, Customs Support is here for you. Our mission is to empower global trade, meaning that we help your business stay compliant, efficient, and on time – all within the customs function.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help you save money, trade new products, or open business with different countries – we are only a quick message away.