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There is no doubt that recent years have provided challenges to contractors across the events industry due to the financial downturn, but looking back over the last 12 months, exhibition logistics company CEVA Showfreight has a more optimistic view. “2013 will show that the decisions we made with continual internal investment and staff development have left us in a far stronger position which has been proven in our financial results for the year,” CEVA managing director Sharon Robinson told EN. “Being part of a large multinational with over 50,000 employees in 120 countries has provided us with the opportunity to engage in many new industries and areas of the world which has led to significant growth.” The firm won the award for Best Supplier to Exhibitors at this year’s Exhibition News Awards for the second time, beating the likes of Access Displays, DB Systems, Nimlok and Melville GES. “You can never expect to win as the competition for the Best Supplier to Exhibitors Award is huge with an array of outstanding nominated companies. We were naturally delighted to follow up our success in 2012 to ‘retain’ the award which is testament to the efforts of our entire team,” said Robinson. Although the correlation to direct business wins would be difficult to prove, Robinson said there is no doubt the award had a positive effect on business.  “The instant injection in staff morale provides a natural bounce in the step which I am sure is evident onsite when we meet organisers and exhibitors,” she said. “It is also worth remembering we do an enormous amount of work overseas and the exposure these awards wins provide certainly travels around the world.” Specialising in event logistics, CEVA’s core services lie within freight forwarding, customs and also in the range of services incorporated into site handling such as unloading, reloading and various storage solutions. CEVA has supplied for a wide range of events from the Farnborough International Airshow to the Crufts Dogs Show, the London International Wine and Spirits Show to the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam. The firm was born out of the TNT Showfreight organisation after the sale of TNT’s logistics division to Apollo Management, which was officially launched in Athersone, Warwickshire in January 1994 with a specialist team of just four staff. In 2006, the company rebranded to CEVA Showfreight, adopting a new logo and a corporate colour of burgundy. Since those early days Showfreight has developed through acquisition and organic growth into a market leading, multi-country operation. “We employ over 100 full-time staff with our main offices being located in Birmingham (NEC), London and Amsterdam, and I work out of our NEC office but clearly travel is a large part of my role,” added Robinson. “I am a one company woman having started at TNT straight from school back in 1989. A move to the Showfreight division swiftly followed where I have remained ever since.” Robinson said she replied to an internal TNT advertisement in 1994 where she worked as a junior administrator at the time, “the role sounded considerably more exciting”. Twenty-five years on, the managing director said she would still recommend working in exhibitions and events, “no day is ever the same and the buzz of a show opening morning can never be replaced”. She has rapidly worked her way through the ranks and earlier this year, Robinson was promoted to the role of managing director of CEVA’s Showfreight business, following her most recent role as Showfreight’s Birmingham office branch manager. “I was obviously very proud but particularly pleased as I was chosen by my peers. This gave me great confidence and it has been a privilege to lead the team this year. “Many aspects of my role have remained the same from when I was NEC branch manager. I have always been driven, enjoy being at the sharp end onsite and being thorough when it comes to the numbers side,” she said. “Going forward I see exciting times ahead and can’t wait until 2014.” During her time at CEVA, Robinson has successfully managed a wide range of events from machinery to foods and aerospace to giftware. She has onsite knowledge of all major UK event venues and has seen the firm appointed as sole logistics contractor for events in Brazil, South Africa, Hungary and Holland in the past month. “They say you always remember your first, and the first event I worked on was BBC Gardeners World 1994. I have an emotional attachment to several events but the Farnborough International Airshow does have a special place in my heart and probably provides my greatest satisfaction,” she said. “Apart from winning an Exhibition News Award, guiding Showfreight through a successful year commercially, restructuring our Dutch business to achieve even greater results and strengthening my manager team through various promotions have been the highlights of the last 12 months.” CEVA offers event logistics solutions around the world including transportation, on site handling and customs clearance. One can only imagine some of the equipment the company transports around the world. “The oldest shipment this year we handled was a Mycenaean Jar dating back to 1400 BC and probably the newest being a full scale replica of the Virgin Galactic spaceship,” Robinson informs EN. “The most expensive piece of equipment was the US$65million Lockheed Martin JSF fighter jet and the smallest was a seven-gram silver coin dating back to Roman times.” On CEVA’s website, the firm claims to go beyond the boundaries of traditional supply chain management to design innovative solutions, based on state-of-the-art technology, advanced supply chain engineering and the staff’s global operational expertise. “Placing the exhibitor at the heart of everything we do allows us to create added value and a delivery style synonymous with CEVA. “Logistics is a people industry so the development of our people is our number one priority.” Robinson said because the team spend a great deal of time together either in the office or onsite, it’s quite easy in this industry to keep staff motivated. “The banter between staff can be fierce, the hours long but it’s taken a long time to build our reputation so keeping everyone motivated is pretty much self policing as you’re only as good as your last show.” This year CEVA has expanded its range of services with the launch of a new Fine Arts delivery service. “The last installation we did we had to handle everything with extreme care, it’s suffice to say turning up with a sack barrow and a guy in a hi-viz is not enough.” It’s going to be another busy year for CEVA, predicts Robinson. The firm is optimistic for 2014 and say they have the team in place to continue their 2013 success. “I expect current levels of economic optimism to rise resulting in new launch shows and a growth in existing shows. This in turn will hopefully mean exhibitors bringing more freight,” said Robinson. “I don’t want to spill the beans too early but don’t be surprised to see a new Showfreight office (or two) cropping up around the world. Watch this space…” Nominations are now open for the 2014 Exhibition News Awards. This was first published in the January issue of EN. Any comments? Email exhibitionnews@mashmedia.net
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