Family Values in Times of Change
A third generation family business, DJS International is finding new and innovative ways to
combine the highly personalized service of a small company with the reliability and efficient data
management of a large company.
Darrell Sekin was just 13 when he started as a runner at
his father’s customs brokerage firm, Darrell J. Sekin & Co.
Founded in 1960 as one of the first independent customs
brokerage firms and bonded warehouses in Dallas,
the company rapidly built its reputation for friendly
professional service, as Sekin learned about the industry
from the bottom up, running documents between
businesses and customs.
“I guess I got what you would have called in those days
an education in the ‘ industry’,” Sekin says. “Back then
it was about sitting down at somebody’s desk as they
showed you how to do things, and that’s how I learned
the industry early on, there was no formal or continuing
education in the industry.”
In the days before computers, Darrell J. Sekin & Co. had a
handful of typists who would produce multiple versions
of customs documents, so Darrell, as a young messenger,
could deliver them into the right hands.
“It was all hand typing, and we’d use calculators to
calculate the numbers then enter them by hand,” he
says. “It’s very different now, it is very highly automated.
It’s really about making cargo move, and the idea is to
provide a full end-to-end service to the customer, to give
them the visibility they require regarding their
For 20 years, Darrell worked in his father’s business,
eventually managing the company’s Houston, Oklahoma,
and Dallas offices, until the business was sold in 1983. But
it didn’t take long for the family to get back into the game. Just two years later, in 1985, Darrell and his wife Marty
established their own firm, DJS International.
This time around, Darrell was keen to maintain his father’s
commitment to innovation and customer service, but
wanted to provide a more streamlined offering, rather
than the comprehensive warehousing and transportation
solution on which Darrell J. Sekin & Co had built its reputation.
But this wasn’t the only company tradition he was carrying
on into the next generation.
“I can remember selling Girl Scout cookies in the office and
the friendly nature of the people who worked there,” says
Melissa Meyer, Darrell’s daughter and DJS International’s
Chief Financial Officer. “There was lot of learning over
the family dinner table, and some of the most important
aspects of the business, the culture and the work ethic, and
the value of hard work, were all things we learned at home.”
The challenge for Darrell as DJS International continued
to grow, was how to remain competitive in an increasingly
computerized industry, while holding onto the reputation
the company had built for reliable, friendly service.
“I remember when we first started transmitting customs
releases electronically, and that we weren’t really sure
about it when we were sending the information. Then
we would suddenly get an automated customs release
sent back,” Darrell says. “Coming out of a manual system,
it all seemed very strange, but now everything is done
electronically, which means we can deal with a much
larger workload from what is still a small office.”
Having tried a number of different software packages
over the years, it wasn’t until DJS International adopted
ediEnterprise that Darrell began to
appreciate the extent to which good quality software
could truly increase the efficiency of his business.
“We came from a world where we still had to print
up data, and re-key in information, to one where the
ediEnterprise system seamlessly handles all of the processes,”
Darrell says. “In many instances our people never have
to print up a document, they just work from the product
code, and the whole thing is handled within the system.
It was a major process change for us, and our employees
were champions in the way they embraced it.”
This kind of increased efficiency has only enhanced the
capacity of DJS International to maintain its commitment
to high levels of customer service and staff retention,
traditions which the family is planning to continue to carry
into the next generation.
“What came from the original business, is the way we
treat people, and it’s still a continuing characteristic of
the company, in spite of all the regulatory and technology
changes going on around us,” says Melissa. “We treat
people the way we’d like to be treated ourselves, and
that respect is something we’ll always have a part of our