A Track Record of Efficiency

Southport Agencies CEO Kevin LaGraize credits 36 years of longevity and exponential growth to experience, great staff, consistency and client loyalty.

Anyone can embrace opportunity – recognizing when good fortune shines upon your company, especially in a competitive business climate — but making the most of it is not an easy feat.

Co-founder, CEO and now the company’s sole-owner of Southport Agencies, Kevin LaGraize said the many experienced staff members working in the company offices located in the (USG, including Port of South Louisiana  Commission, USEC and the PNW) believe it’s necessary to go the extra mile. Southport Agencies will embrace opportunity, seize it, nurture it, and they go above and beyond to sustain it — whatever it takes to satisfy the needs of those they serve.

Perhaps that attitude best explains why Southport’s first client in 1981 – ODFJELL, a prominent Norwegian Chemical Carrier – remains a client to this day, along with roughly 50 other clients dependent on Southport for a variety of tasks in various locations.

Prior to Southport, LaGraize said his experience with a grain and chemical agency, as well as tank farm operations with a local chemical plant, proved helpful to the start up of the company.

“From the start, we just hit the ground running,” said LaGraize.

36 years later, Southport hasn’t stopped. Southport has been quick to adapt to frequent changes in market requirements.  Southport’s origins are in chemicals.  Its staff has developed an advanced proficiency in dealing with a variety of cargoes over the years, specifically advances with grain exports. To illustrate that, in 2002 Southport handled 11.5 million tons of grain shipments. In 2016, the annual total rose to 27.6 million tons. 

“When you can grow in the grain business, in this kind of environment, with this kind of competition, you have to always be performing at your best,” LaGraize said. “That means at the highest level. [Clients] look for an agent that thoroughly understands their business needs, and maximizes local efficiencies. They’re looking for feedback on local market information, prompt communications, swift, concise documentation, and around-the-clock availability. For us, that’s our normal. Our best goes beyond that, and that’s what Southport consistently delivers.

“To do this, Southport maintains a great staff. Our staff gradually expands as the volume [over time] and demand grows. This has been our model from day one, and continues to be to this day,” said LaGraize.

Southport’s personnel will dedicate the time to cultivate one-on-one relationships with the clients they serve. Each agent possesses a deep understanding of the cargoes being moved, and the specifications attached thereto. They take the time to network developing relationships that best serves the client.  Utilizing traditional methods, and modern technology to ascertain market information helpful for the customer — all of the extra effort pays off in a more efficient delivery.

 “We don’t treat each client the same, even though the basics in the business across the board are somewhat similar. Meaning we give personal attention and do it so that it meets specific needs. By doing that, you develop a trust that is so crucial,” said LaGraize.

Though much about Southport’s day-to-day operations has changed since 1981, LaGraize said that the pillars upon which this company was built remain; a strong hands on service, timely communications, prompt documentation, and fundamentally sound accounting practices.

“Opportunities are difficult to get,” LaGraize said. “We don’t take them for granted, because without the opportunity you can be as good as gold, but it’s all for naught. So once Southport gets an opportunity, we make sure the services are backed up 100 percent. It’s one thing to get the opportunity, It’s another to keep it….we have  never lost a piece of business because of  inferior service.”

-William Kalec
 

Categories: Maritime