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Austin International Trade Services Pty Ltd - Interview with Darryl Sharp

7:41pm on Thursday 3rd January 2019

Austin International has been giving quality services for 31 years. It is a leading provider of International Freight Forwarding, Customs Clearance and Trade Consultancy Services. Located in Sydney, they service all main air and sea ports of Australia. Their global logistics reach extends to every major trading country.

We interviewed Austin International's Managing Director - Darryl Sharp and got amazed in his passion for his business and the logistics industry. He also shared with us the secret of their company's success is that the employees stand by the company's motto "When you stop getting better, you stop being good".

What are the different types of shipments that you specialize in?


DS- Austin has a very proud and very strong connection with the automotive sector. We air freighted the “I-Robot” car into Sydney for a red carpet appearance. We have shipped many extremely valuable vehicles, including top secret prototypes. Aircraft, mining, engineering and trains have also featured over the years. We have also handled unusual freight, including a complete circus. We are prepared to be on the ground, anywhere, we manage projects to any port in Oz from our office in Sydney.

What would you like to change from the Freight Forwarding Business?

DS- Imagine a World without multi-nationals? That would be nice but it’s not going to happen. I love and respect family owned business as they plan for the future, they make sensible long term decisions. I would do away with short term bonuses for sales people and senior management so that everyone quotes in a fair and proper manner to realise actual profits and not just paper profits.

I would rid the industry of the “expectation” that logistics companies will provide unsecured credit for no fee or compensation. It is in-grained in the industry now, it is irresponsible and naive!

Do you think new technologies is vital in the Project sector? 

DS- Technology plays a huge role in the day to day success of a business. The industry has taken some giant steps in the past twenty years. I am not seeing too much genuinely new technology that increases productivity and profitability these days. Our industry is not alone in this space. All over the World Uber, Bookings.com and other Apps are reducing costs for the consumer but the company or individual providing the actual service realises no monetary. This is not a smart model!

Could you describe your typical workday as a Director of Austin International?

DS- There is nothing “typical” about my role as a director. Every day is unique and I love that about our industry. I have been working at Austin for over 31 years and it has never been boring. The past ten years, as the owner has been the most rewarding, there has been lots of challenges but I am surrounded by a very dedicated and loyal team.


What made you choose logistics as a career?

DS- It was my first job when I left school and I only committed to logistics until I decided on a “proper career”. Here I am 34 years later and I couldn’t be happier. I have learnt so much, traveled the world, meeting more interesting and genuine people than I ever thought possible.

Which parts of your job do you find the most challenging?

DS- In my capacity as Managing Director I take looking after the people at Austin (they do all the work) as my number one priority. I am very fortunate to be able to call then personal friends as well. The larger clients get my attention and modern day business ethics (or lack of) can be a real challenge.

What do find most enjoyable?

DS- I never get tired of travelling and meeting people. There is something to learn from every new experience and visiting locations I never thought possible has been a real plus. As a young boy growing up I never thought it possible that I would visit the Egypt, Russia, London, Paris, Africa and my all-time favourite Hua Hin.


Which seasons of the year are toughest in your job? 

DS- No real seasonal pressures associated with what we do at Austin.

Austin International been in the business for over 3 decades, can you please tell us how did this business start?

DS- It initiated when Lloyd Austin and Keith Smith started trading as Customs Brokers in Sydney, the year was 1987. I started as a junior, the rest is history. I purchased the company on a hand shake, try doing that today! I don’t think it could happen. I have been very fortunate.


How do you differ yourself from other Projects Logistics Companies?

DS- We try and emulate what the best project logistics companies do consistently. We listen, we care, we communicate and we get involved in making sure that every opportunity is a success.


What's the most challenging project shipment you've ever handled? Tell me how you organize, plan, and prioritize this shipment.

DS- There is not -one stand out project. We tend to handle many smaller projects and they all require the same degree of planning and organization.


Do you have your project equipment or you outsource it? If yes, how essential it is for you to have your own? If not, have you encounter delay due to this? 

DS- We outsource our equipment requirements and we find it works very well. We get access to experts on a needs basis and that gives us access to the best in the market.

Amazing projects held by Austin International Trade Services Pty Ltd 

A recent project that they handled was the export from Sydney to Los Angeles of a Cessna A-37 Dragonfly, or Super Tweet. It is an American light attack aircraft developed in the 1960s and 1970s and used during the Vietnam War. After the war this particular model found its way to Australia for peace time activities before being recently sold to an American enthusiast.  In fact the export is happening as we speak! The aircraft wings, fuel tanks, jet engines, and various spares were removed from the aircraft & we packed these for export in a 40ft high cube. The fuselage itself is 9.0m L x 2.5m W x 2.2m H and this was loaded & lashed on to a purpose built dolly / trailer. The economics of moving the fuselage by RORO rather than an out of gauge platform means that the 2 sections of aircraft will arrive at L.A. on different vessels in early 2019.

Another recent job they handled with a specialist German auto logistics partner was a promo shoot for Skoda.

The Concept Vision RS is a purpose built clay, plastic, and fibreglass model that cannot be exposed to direct sunlight. With handpicked, select logistics partners Skoda have presented the model “concept” car in various locations around the world. The scope of the job was to use a specially built temperature controlled airfreight container to house the vehicle for all legs of international air transport. This car container measures 6.06m L x 2.35m W x 2.40m H so only certain cargo freighters could handle the job. The smarts in the container meant that only by scanning an encrypted barcode to a reader on the container frame could you open a sealed box that housed another key to unlock the container. In that box you also needed to enter a separate secure pin to unlock the key box.

Austin International moved the vehicle to various promotional events in Sydney on behalf of Skoda Australia using a special enclosed car trailer that is air conditioned, using airbags & hydraulics to position and move cars. The technology allows cars with very minimal ground clearance to be handled seamlessly and professionally. After the successful shoot we repacked the car container and sent the vehicle back to Germany for the next leg of the journey.

Fun circus project from Australia to New Zealand handled by Austin International

The impressive cargo consisted of 6 x trucks, 2 x stage trailers, 5 x caravans, an Audi Q7, Fiat bambino, and 2 motorcycles which were transported by a Toyofuji RORO vessel from Australia to New Zealand.


Anooj Ravindra
Dolphin Logistics Co., Ltd
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