Technology Client Study
A customs brokerage client—an importer of branded athletic apparel and sports gear—wanted Vandegrift to manage their C-TPAT process, maintain a database of responses and provide analysis and feedback. The service provider they had been using could not provide the necessary analysis needed to make decisions on production and vendor selection. The importer needed a fully-automated system that would allow them to access information quickly and efficiently.
Could Vandegrift automate the C-TPAT data collection process and provide accessible analysis and feedback?
Vandegrift’s IT team designed an analytical survey tool capable of collecting responses to questions in any format as well as attachments regarding security floor plans, photographs and work records like time cards and sign-in sheets. The data is housed on the Vandegrift server where it is analyzed, evaluated and graded by the Vandegrift C-PTAT team. Based on answers received by factories, Vandegrift is able to automate a response to provide a passing or failing grade and then issue corrective action(s) as necessary to individual respondents. Milestones were built into responses for automatic follow-up to ensure that deadlines are met.
The analytical survey tool has been so successful in the C-TPAT implementation that Vandegrift has introduced it to other clients who use it to manage FTA programs and vendor audits.
Compliance Client Study
The newly hired import manager of a very large party supply company approached Vandegrift with a problem—they needed to quickly classify the new season’s catalog. The company imports thousands of items in hundreds of categories, but neither they nor their service provider had the internal resources to handle the overwhelming classification task. In addition, the company was under a Process Improvement Plan as the result of inconsistent classification results during a CBP audit.
Could Vandegrift assist in classifying the large number of incoming items as well as audit the consistency of items previously imported within the same category?
Automation was vital in solving this challenge. Vandegrift’s IT team quickly devised a program to take in catalog data from the importer’s system, including descriptions, pictures and all other pertinent product information. All of the product information was housed in the Vandegrift’s database, managed through Vandegrift’s own global classification tool. There, the data could be manipulated, extracted and grouped by category.
Once the data was received and its integrity was tested and confirmed, Vandegrift’s compliance team set out to begin the classification process. Not only did the team group like categories of merchandise, they also handled bulk classifications. Bulk classification is a concept Vandegrift developed for non-subjective, straightforward items that are similar but for non-critical elements like color or, in some cases, size and shape. When used properly, bulk classification can save hours in repetitive and tedious classification work.
Within two weeks of implementation the Vandegrift compliance team had classified over 1500 items. The process has proven so successful that the importer has permanently outsourced this function to Vandegrift, freeing their own limited resources to focus on more immediate and pressing issues.
Global Logistics Client Study
An importer of school sports team uniforms approached Vandegrift with an urgent problem. Due to mishandling by a large law firm, they were about to lose over $300,000 in CAFTA refunds and time was quickly running out on the opportunity to file an appeal with Customs and Border Protection.
Could Vandegrift help recover the refunds from the mishandled protests and ensure that future claims are understood by CBP?
The best way to resolve the importer’s problem was to request a face-to-face meeting with CBP. There were literally hundreds of documents in 20 binders; it was vital to communicate the significance of those documents and provide a detailed explanation of the importer’s CAFTA process to the CBP officials in the port of entry.
CBP agreed to the request for a meeting at the port. Vandegrift mustered its experts, framed the issues, explained every document and linked each with its category on the entry. Vandegrift was able to prove that the importer had indeed met CAFTA requirements and followed a compliant procedure. As a result of the meeting, CBP approved all of the protest appeals, signed off on the importer’s CAFTA process and documentation and refunded the total amount.
It didn’t end there. Vandegrift wrote a CAFTA and import compliance manual for the client. As a result, the client continues to file successful CAFTA entries with the approval of CBP in the port of entry.
Customs Brokerage Client Study
Due to a slow service provider, a large east coast importer of well-known branded athletic footwear and sports gear was 2 years behind in filing their drawback claims. This lag was causing an unacceptable delay in refunds, which kept a key revenue stream from being booked as income. The importer’s top management and accounting department did not want any more excuses; they needed the large duty refunds that were rightfully theirs.
Could Vandegrift help the importer catch up and reduce the lag time in filing drawback claims?
Vandegrift immediately set out to automate a solution. Because they did not handle the import entries, Vandegrift needed to bring all of the data onboard quickly, efficiently and accurately. Vandegrift’s experienced IT department created code to run all of the import data through their system, weed out the anomalies and match import data to the export data which they then linked to the warehouse records.
Once the automation was ready, Vandegrift set up an in person meeting that included the Vandegrift drawback team, the importer’s compliance and logistics team and CBP’s drawback team in the port of filing. Vandegrift experts led the meeting and laid out the data integrity plan, method of drawback filing and problem resolution strategy.
All parties signed off on the procedures and the process was approved by the importer. Within three months of implementing the new systems, the importer had recovered over $1 million in back refunds.