The Power 25: On the rise with the world’s top forwarders

It’s amazing what a little extra business can do. About 18 months ago, there was a lot of hand-wringing about the sorry state of the freight forwarding industry. They were far behind on the technology adoption curve; Amazon was coming along to disintermediate everyone in the logistics business and overcapacity was slowly bleeding the carriers dry.

Cut to the middle of 2018 and the outlook is decidedly rosier, mostly because demand growth has been climbing at near record rates since the peak season of 2016. Although the forwarding business is still struggling with many of the same issues – especially with technological advances and the threat from Amazon – everyone has been too busy pitching in to meet the insatiable demand for e-commerce delivery and next-day expectations and filling their coffers to notice much else. Even Amazon is straining under the load; “Fullfilment by Amazon” has become a steady business for many 3PLs eager to take on some of Amazon’s extra shipping load.

This frenzied activity is starting to have impacts on our Power 25 list of the top forwarders worldwide. For the first time in recent memory, the top 25 list had not a single carrier fall off the list from the previous year, nor did it welcome any newcomer to the elite list. Only seven of the 25 even showed a drop in overall revenue, and all of them were in the single digits. Another first: No forwarder on the Power 25 list suffered a dip in airfreight tonnage handled.

“There’s been a little bit of shifting around, but on average everybody’s up over 11 percent in year-over-year tonnes, and revenue is up 6 percent, compared to last year,” said Evan Armstrong, president of Armstrong & Associates, the Wisconsin-based market research firm that cooperated with Air Cargo World in compiling this list from its database that tracks more than 550 profiles of 3PLs. “We’re talking about nice, healthy gains in the air tonnes and good gains on the revenue side. That’s all good.”

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