President’s Message

As I move into my final year as your President and reflect back on the changes that have continued to occur in our industry I cannot help but think about the changes we as an association must start considering. The year ahead is a busy one for the association as the rebranding begun last year is fully implemented in 2018, in recognition of the association’s 70th anniversary. CIFFA’s new logo will take on new prominence in all of our communications and documentation. Our user-friendly website will continue to serve as a key tool for the association’s communications about membership, industry news, regulatory changes, training and education, Secretariat news and association events across the country. Our newly minted CareerConnect job search site continues to draw interest in the logistics service provider community: we aim to bring together employers and top candidates who will draw from the association’s expertise in the supply chain arena.

The association is also proud to celebrate CIFFA’s 70th anniversary in 2018 with a conference, GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS IN A DIGITAL FUTURE: INNOVATION AND INSPIRATION in Toronto on October 16 and 17, 2018. The conference website provides the pertinent details on registration, pricing, conference content and speaker information. CIFFA was overwhelmed with requests to sponsor the conference and thanks those who have contributed their support to make the event possible, to keep costs down and to highlight the roles our sponsors play within the association and within supply chain in general. Visit and register today under CIFFA Events for the early bird price.

We hope you will be part of this tremendous occasion marking the 70th and CIFFA’s close partnership with TIACA and Multimodal Americas who are hosting concurrent trade shows that week. We are pleased to partner with them. We know this will be a huge draw and put the association and the industry on the map.

Innovation will be a key theme at the event. A digital future provides a lot of promise but not without challenges. CIFFA is up to these challenges, and to guiding its membership toward the optimal route in meeting them.

Speaking of conferences, I had the opportunity this year to attend the Alibaba conference that was held in Toronto and listened intently as Alibaba’s CEO Jack Ma spoke about his vision of change. Mr. Ma has been quoted on many occasions stating that manufacturing jobs are in decline and that the concept of “Made on the Internet” will be the future. Given this concept, if we relate this back to the freight forwarding industry, we have to consider how will this impact transportation flows over the coming decade.

The concept of “disintermediation” and e-commerce has now become a daily topic of conversation. The shift away from the traditional bricks and mortar retailer and the move to e-retailers has been moving at a rapid pace. Again, we must reflect how this will impact us and what we as CIFFA need to start doing to support this shift in consumer habits.

We have already seen Amazon enter the carrier world and acquire a fleet of aircraft and yet even with this additional capacity, 2017 air cargo volumes, on a freight tonne per kilometer basis, were the highest they’ve been since 2009. For the fourth quarter of 2017 we saw airfreight volumes far exceed available capacity, and this trend is expected to continue through 2018 and beyond.

Our regulatory world is also being impacted by these changes. Consumers’ purchasing behaviors and expectations are based on speed to market. As consumers’ appetite for online purchases grows so does the need for speed, and the idea of goods being delayed due to regulatory red tape is not something that will be accepted by the typical consumer. Customs processes and mindsets must adapt to this new world. We have seen firsthand through the implementation of eHBL and e-Manifest how difficult this can be.

The association plans to address strategies around the aforementioned trends, and around technological “disruption” as opportunity for growth. As we have done since our incarnation in 1948, we aim to continue to be a source of guidance in the advocacy arena, a trusted advisor to governments, carriers and shippers, and ahead of the curve as members evolve along with their very dynamic job descriptions and tasks.

As CIFFA continues to strive for continuous improvement in all modes of our transportation sectors and regulatory bodies, our mandate to meet the professional demands of members remains unchanged. What has changed are those demands of our membership and the need for CIFFA to adapt and change along with all of you.

Gary Vince