Big Enough to Handle the Small Details

Norton Lilly shipping agents provide peace of mind when cargo is on the water

For the people at Norton Lilly concepts such as dedication, attention to detail, going the extra mile, and never quitting until the job is complete aren’t generic catchphrases plastered on a break-room motivational poster. Rather, they’re the simple pillars of a time-tested and far-reaching logistics company that has maintained its individual touch while growing into a global leader.

That philosophy — “To Provide Quality Services While Focusing On The Personal Relationships With Our Customers” — has been consistent since Norton Lilly’s conception in 1841, and rings even truer today as technology and innovation sculpts the shipping marketplace both domestically and abroad.

“Shipping evolves every day,” says Norton Lilly Port Manager Al Sharp, who heads the company’s St. Rose office in the Port of South Louisiana. “No one can truly know all the details of shipping because once you think you do, it changes. So every small detail is important, because it can lead to a larger issue. Every small detail is another block in the foundation of quality service.”

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As one of the largest shipping agencies in North America, Norton Lilly provides various services to various vessels, specifically port services and logistics to reefer, tanker, bulk, liner, and passenger ships in a catalog of industries ranging from oil and gas to travel and tourism. With close to 40 offices in the United States alone, many Norton Lilly hubs specialize in specific cargo and shipments. For instance, Norton Lilly’s St. Rose office — which has five shipping agents, two vessel managers, and Sharp the Port Manager — deals almost exclusively in grain while the office down the road in New Orleans handles bulk, tanker, liner/passenger, and oil and gas vessel calls.

“It’s really a luxury, because our focus is pinpointed and our knowledge is thorough,” Sharp says. “As the liaisons for these companies and their vessels, we have to know the ins and outs of every detail, and everything as it pertains to these grain vessels. As such, you can master your craft.”

“Our main goal is to deliver reliability, superior service, and peace-of-mind to provide efficiency for our Principals”.

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Since Norton Lilly merged with two other entities in 2002, the company has solidified its already stellar port agency reputation by leaning more heavily on technological innovation, equipping not only clients but also its own employees with the real-time tools necessary to function in an unpredictable industry.

“If you can’t adapt to the needs of your Principals, you won’t make it,” Sharp says. Everything that we do is in direct correlation to quality service for our Principals, so it’s our duty to make sure that port calls run smoothly and if there is an issue, we make them aware immediately. No surprises, it’s all about maintaining superior service to our Principals and strengthening the relationship.”

For the agents of Norton Lilly, their commitment to fulfilling every last need of their customer — no matter the request or need — is never better exemplified than during peak shipping seasons. For those in the St. Rose office, that means a six-month swath starting in the late fall and creeping toward first hints of the summer. Workdays during this particular half of the year extend way beyond the typical 9 to 5 grind the rest of us endure — a sacrifice Sharp and his team are aware of, appreciate, and try to counterbalance as best as possible.

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“In the life of an agent, work/life balance is very hard to come by,” Sharp says. “And that’s why we work together and cover each other as much as possible. Because of this, we try to find that balance, to fight burnout. The ability to have personal time off away from the office is vital to the team.”

By William Kalec

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