Starting a new business can be a rocky road for anyone, but when Mark got the opportunity to kick-start things at an upcoming trade show, his main concern suddenly became how to navigate international shipping, something he was completely unfamiliar with.
Mark Gerwig is a self-taught 3D artist, US army veteran and entrepreneur who decided to turn his passion for 3D printing action figure accessories into a living – and so his company Mark2Toys was born.
After 25 years of service in the US army, Mark utilizes his knowledge of military weapons to 3D print accessories for action figurines. He understood that if he wanted to make a living out of his hobby, he would need to scale much faster by working with producers abroad. In response, he had started a partnership with a factory in China and planned to have his first cargo delivered by the end of the year, when he learned of a business opportunity – a trade show for companies just like his.
The trade show would be the opportunity Mark was waiting for to unveil and announce his new business. When the producers in China confirmed they would have the product ready in time for the show, all Mark had to do was to ship his first product samples to Denver, Colorado – on time.
When all other international freight forwarders he got in contact with said no, he found support in Ship4wd. We helped this first-time shipper get his products out of China and back to the US on time, bringing immense value to the future of his business.
Getting a first shipment off the ground
The main problem was that Mark didn’t know how to get his first ever cargo from China to the US, especially within such a short time frame. “Not only do I not speak the logistics language”, Mark tells us, “I also had no interest in, or time learning it. All I wanted was to get my products to the show on time”.
Timing was of the essence, the trade show was only 14 days away and he quickly understood that he needed an air shipment, the fastest shipping alternative to shipping by ocean. Not knowing where to start the logistics process, he consulted a friend who told him to do an internet search for international freight forwarders.
“I started working my way from the top of the internet results, reading reviews about the services provided by all these (freight forwarding) companies, tried getting in touch with them in order to get up to speed with my first shipment – which I really needed delivered yesterday.”
Surprisingly to him, he found that most freight forwarders were reluctant to do business with him. From the get-go, representatives of freight forwarding companies would reject him for not bringing large enough volumes as a small company or they would ask him to fill in lengthy documentation that he couldn’t fill in, without the necessary logistics jargon. Mark describes his experience as an emotional roller-coaster – First being able to grab a unique opportunity to scale, and then finding out about the roadblocks that international freight forwarding posed.
“Honestly, I was perplexed. I’m a designer, I know nothing of freight forwarding. I had put all my money into my new business and I just needed to make it happen.”, he tells us. He felt that what he needed at that point was someone to guide him through his first international shipping experience, as he just didn’t have professional logistics know-how. In the end, he felt like a miracle would need to happen for his shipment to become a reality.
Turning to Ship4wd for results
After contacting several other freight forwarders who said no, Mark found Ship4wd online, who immediately jumped on the case to guide him through the shipment process.
“From the moment I registered on their website, I was greeted with human support on live chat and later by email. I had one of their air shipment experts ask me about my business needs; I felt I was seen, and that I was important to them. This made me confident that I could trust them on this time-sensitive shipment, which was crucial for my business.”
Mark mentions that he really felt that the prompt customer support he received was essential to getting his shipment to where it needed to be, on time. Ship4wd’s freight forwarding experts were able to guide him through all the necessary importing processes and documentation. They also managed to avoid his goods getting stuck in customs for months, which would have resulted in him missing out on his first ever business opportunity.
“Ship4wd gave me some invaluable advice when they noticed that my agent in China had inaccurately listed my products as a ‘weapons set for children’s play’ on the commercial invoice”. Mark’s products are miniature plastic toy guns. They aren’t real weapons, but they aren’t intended for children either. Both of these incorrect categories would need additional screening. The inaccurate listing would have caused the time-sensitive shipment to get stuck in customs, but thanks to the corrections made by a Ship4wd air shipment expert, unnecessary delays were avoided, allowing the time-sensitive shipment to arrive on time.
Making an impossible shipment happen
“Had it not been for Ship4wd’s expert advice, the cargo would have never gotten here in time for the trade show.”, Mark says. In fact, the shipment actually arrived earlier than he had anticipated, allowing him to be well prepared for the unveiling of his business. The show was a success, and now Mark sells his products both online, as well as in several physical stores.
“I’m new to this freight forwarding business, so I needed someone to hold my hand through it, and that’s what Ship4wd did. Because of them, I can now focus on growing my business, knowing they’ve got my back when it comes to international freight forwarding”.
By land, air, or sea, we make it easy for businesses to take control of their international shipping from door to door, and we’re the only freight forwarder in the world able to guarantee your container quote 45 days ahead. With Ship4wd you can always count on:
- Fast quotes and easy booking
- 100% shipment visibility at every step
- A user-friendly digital platform
- Real support from real people, 24/7
- Competitive Prices