Women-owned Pacific Rim: Navigating the High Seas of Global Shipping

Women-owned Pacific Rim: Navigating the High Seas of Global Shipping Main Photo

23 Oct 2023


Nestled in the picturesque region of the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Rim Shipbrokers, Inc., a women-owned small business in Kitsap County, Washington, has been making waves in the global shipping market. The firm's principals, Jennifer A. Montgomery, President; Julie A Khan, Controller; and Kelle M Horn, Vice President, have sustained their presence and thrived through decades of industry complexity and change. “The company was established in 1984.  In 2016, the original owners were ready to retire, and we decided to purchase the firm.  Having been long-term employees and co-workers, we knew how well we worked together and shared a similar work ethic and vision for the company. Through our hard work as well as the previous owners, we have been able to maintain our excellent standing within the international dry bulk shipping community for close to 40 years,” the team says.

Staying Afloat in the Global Shipping Market

One of the challenges of running an international business from Kitsap County is the significant time zone difference and the relative lack of a dry bulk community in the region. To overcome this, the company has made a concerted effort to maintain visibility in its global markets, which includes early mornings and late nights to align with various time zones. Additionally, the team uses multiple communication tools such as phone, text, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, and Teams. Their commitment to maintaining a sterling reputation in the international dry bulk shipping community has allowed them to thrive for nearly four decades.

Government Contracting and Maritime Expertise

Pacific Rim has expanded its portfolio to include government contracting related to freight for bulk, breakbulk, and project cargoes. "After acquiring the company, we kept what we knew worked and brought in fresh ideas and approaches," the Principals explained. They registered with the Federal Government as a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) to facilitate freight solutions for USAID agricultural cargoes. However, they soon discovered opportunities closer to home.

Their meeting with the Small Business Deputy for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at a contracting conference led to a contract that involved chartering and operating commercial vessels to support naval missions. With decades of experience in local and international maritime, Pacific Rim could provide cost-effective and flexible support to government contracts. Their ability to act as a sub-contractor for the maritime needs of large prime contractors further showcases their versatility in the industry.

On Receiving Government Contracting Technical Assistance from KEDA

The team at Pacific Rim says, “We cannot imagine entering the world of Government contracting without the assistance of KEDA (now the APEX Accelerator Program).  From the Contracting Coffee Hour tutorials to the dedicated volunteers willing to assist on long, complicated RFPs, KEDA has been instrumental in our success in contracting. We have also applied important business and marketing principles learned at KEDA-sponsored conferences and courses to our non-governmental projects.   It is rare to find an agency that truly cares about the folks they support, especially when serving such a diverse group of businesses, all with unique challenges.”

Client-Centric Negotiations

In the world of bulk freight, there are charterers and owners, and Pacific Rim primarily serves as a charterer's broker. They prioritize the interests and needs of their clients when negotiating freight rates and contracts for various commodities, setting them apart in the industry. This approach ensures they mitigate the risk when moving cargo via bulk or project carriers.

The team's background, which includes experience working for owners and being brokers, has equipped them with the proficiency to understand how contract clauses behave in real-world situations. This insight allows them to negotiate terms that are favorable for their clients. They have also cultivated relationships with owners worldwide, enabling them to choose the best fit for each charterer based on strengths and weaknesses.

In an industry where the lowest price can sometimes result in costly mistakes, Pacific Rim leverages their market knowledge to provide charterers with the best freight rates, favorable terms, and reliable owners. The team says, “As with any business transaction, parties often seek the lowest price. However, the lowest price can be the most expensive choice if the counterparty is sub-par or the contract terms do not benefit our client.” A client-centric approach underscores their commitment to delivering value and security in a complex and often unpredictable global shipping market.

The success of Pacific Rim is a testament to the dedication, expertise, and adaptability of women-owned businesses in Kitsap County, Washington, as they continue to leave their mark on the global shipping industry.