From trucks and excavators to potatoes and onions, we ship almost everything.” If anyone can state this with full authority, it is Lars van de Merwe. At Vertraco’s documentation department, he is the master of data. From the moment a booking comes in, Van de Merwe makes sure that all the information is correct down to the smallest detail. “For each type of cargo there is a specific way to draft the bill of lading, so it is important that we have all the correct and complete information.”
Work is never lacking, as every other week a ship sets sail to the Caribbean. Before departure, the terminal in Vlissingen sends Lars the accompanying documents. “Once the ship has been loaded, the work really starts.” He ensures that all the information about the cargo is complete and correct, then sends the bill of lading to the customer for a last inspection. It is important that the information is impeccable, warns Lars, as the customs authorities in Suriname can often be very strict. “Sometimes there is a difference in the information that has been provided, and the reality of the load. If this difference is too substantial, we have to locate the problem.”
After a degree in port logistics, Lars started working at Vertraco. By now he has been part of the team for nearly 2 years. He finds that the relatively small and close-knit team makes for an enjoyable work atmosphere. “Everyone knows one another, every single team member knows they can rely on their colleagues. And most importantly: we know who we have to ask if we need help with a problem.” Vertraco also offers Lars opportunities to continue his professional development. Recently, he was able to pursue an advanced diploma in port logistics next to his work.
Every successful shipment brings Lars a great deal of satisfaction. “On average, we issue around 200 Bills of Lading per departure. When we manage to send all cargo manifests out on time for a final check, it feels very rewarding.” Positive feedback from customers is also important to him.
“Sometimes I get an email back from a customer with ‘thank you for the great service!’ – that always feels good.”
Like many others, Vertraco has also felt the consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The company takes multiples precautions against the virus, including the obligation for everyone to work from home for at least 2 days a week. Although this can sometime be challenging for the coordination between colleagues, Lars remains optimistic. “Although we work in two shifts, we keep providing the same quality of service to our clients.”