Sheltered International CEOSheltered International Founder Shares Journey of Transforming the Freight Forwarding Experience

Andrew Ciccarone knew the freight forwarding industry was in need of a technological face lift. After graduating from Florida State University in January 2011, he became the East Coast Manager for an international freight forwarding and customs service. After four years with the company, he became restless. Armed with a knack for technology and a natural entrepreneurial spirit, Ciccarone couldn’t help but notice a resistance in the industry to keep up with advances in technology. He saw clear opportunities for improvement in the freight forwarding experience and decided to make a change.

In March of 2015, he became the founder of Sheltered International. His venture focuses on technology to improve freight services, whether it be by air, ocean, rail or truck. The technology solutions give complete visibility to clients, from quoting to tracking. Nearly five years later, Sheltered International is changing the game in the freight forwarding industry. Read on to learn more about Andrew’s entrepreneurial journey and Sheltered International’s innovative services.

What inspired you to launch Sheltered International?

Straight out of college, I successfully opened a branch office for another customs brokerage and freight forwarder. After a few years, I felt bored because the company was very traditional and not interested in adapting technology.

At the time, I had my own line of sunglasses, which I was designing and selling online, so I was very familiar with building and designing websites. I felt there was a better way to use technology to improve a customer’s freight forwarding experience. So, my two business partners and I decided to open Sheltered International to be a technology-focused freight forwarder and customs broker.

How is Sheltered International different from other transport providers?

Our online portal, Siships, truly sets us apart. We spend a lot of time thinking about customer problems and are constantly updating the platform to improve customer experience. We listen to our customers. In fact, some of our best functions were suggested by customers.

How did SI come to operate out of Fernandina Beach, FL?

Now that we can do customs brokerage, electronically we can work from anywhere. A traditional freight forwarder is typically located in a rundown building in an industrial area. Our office is located above the fudge shop on Center Street in the historic district on Amelia Island. Whenever we have a visitor they normally comment that they never have seen a freight forwarder in such a nice office.  It’s a really nice place, please come visit!

What are some of the most popular tools and resources SI offers to agents and customers?

For our agents, I think it’s access to our staff.  Our typical agent is a domestic freight broker who has relationships with international shippers, but didn’t have access to experts. So, they didn’t feel comfortable selling the service. When they partner with us, agents get the support of our vast global network and experienced staff in addition to Siships, giving them all the tools to win more business.

For our customers, it’s our tracking system within Siships.  The number one complaint we hear when on-boarding a new customer is that their old forwarder did not provide enough communication.  Siships is the perfect tool because it allows us to build customized communications across email, phone and online which we customize to any user’s preferences.

What is the latest tech update within the platform, and what’s on the horizon?

Our newest update is the booking function.  It allows customers to go into our platform and schedule bookings directly from our website. Next, we are developing vessel satellite positioning into our tracking.  It will allow users to know the exact location of their cargo on any ship worldwide.

Ready to Transform Your Freight Forwarding Experience?

Schedule a demo with Sheltered International today.