Leading the Industry in ACE Readiness
Janel Group has built its solid reputation as a worldwide Customs broker who stays ahead of compliance demands.
The Janel Group began during the enormous boom in New York’s import business in 1974. “We started as a Customs broker from the very beginning, just when this industry began modernizing,” says Vincent Iacopella, President of Janel Group’s US West Division. “We weren’t a transportation company that suddenly decided to be a broker as an afterthought. Customs brokerage is in our DNA.” For forty-two years, the company has expanded steadily across the US and into China.
Iacopella joined Janel Group in 1987, working in their Los Angeles office. “It was our fastest growing site at the time. I was exposed to all of our services, transactions, shipping, forwarding, and of course Customs and compliance.” In addition to his current role at Janel Group, Vincent Iacopella also serves as VP of the Pacific Coast Council of Customs Brokers as well as Co-Chair of the 14th Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations to CBP. To say he is fairly familiar with Customs would be an understatement.
“My focus has always been on how compliance and import issues affect our customers,” Iacopella says. “We are committed to being at the forefront of technology and regulatory compliance, and we’re committed to maintaining our very high level of customer service every step of the way.”
Maintaining that dedication to customer needs translated into not only being ready for changes in Customs regulations, but being ahead of them. “Janel has always been very active within the industry and with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), both in learning about what’s coming down the pipeline, and also in influencing how things are going to work.”
Janel Group recognized how the US Government’s Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) will radically change Customs and compliance, and the company was among the first early adopters of the system. “Our goal has always been to be a leader in functionality,” Iacopella says. “So for the last five years, we’ve been getting ready for ACE. We filed our first simplified entry in ACE four and a half years ago. We were on the simplified entry ACE cargo release pilot, and we’ve been participating in many ACE pilot programs since then.
“One of our biggest concerns was finding a software vendor that could fill our current needs and grow with us to the next level. We wanted a partner who saw Customs and ACE as important, and would invest in a broker who was leading in that area.
“We found that CargoWise One was absolutely the best software program out there for our purposes.”
Iacopella explains it was more than just the software that matched Janel Group’s goal of ACE readiness. “WiseTech Global’s involvement with key people in Customs regulations, with CBP, and the Customs Brokerage industry gives them an inside track to upcoming requirements from CBP and other government agencies. WiseTech Global’s integration and communication with Customs brokers about what we need in our business model is extremely valuable. CargoWise One’s functionality is very much aligned to the future, and what filers of ACE entries are going to need going forward.”
Iacopella believes that the two most important things driving Janel Group’s value to its customers are the company’s leadership in ACE functionality and its customer interface. “Our old system was very rigid, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to interact with our partners and lead with advancing technology,” he says. “With Web Tracker, we can leverage the data in CargoWise One to better serve customers and make the data readily available to our internal staff.”
Another advancement Janel Group greatly valued was the storage and accessibility of their data. “When we moved to CargoWise One, we put everything in the cloud, which we feel is the way of the future. We reduce costs by not buying or maintaining hardware. WiseTech Global updates the infrastructure on their end so we don’t have to continually update our hardware internally.”
Iacopella gladly shares why he believes Customs brokers should be ready and willing to adapt to the changes that constantly sweep their industry. “We are the most vetted, most regulated group in the supply chain,” he says. “We have a fiduciary responsibility to the US government’s Customs and Border Protection.
“But we also have a responsibility to our customers to be ready. To offer the absolute best, most advanced services we can. And that’s why ACE functionality is so important to us. Our goal is not just to keep up, but to be ahead, to be a leader in Customs compliance.”