Making its Move

Fort Myers-based Oceana Global Logistics continues growth in freight forwarding industry.

Sissil Dep [Photo By Brian Tietz]

Sissil Dep faced a problem as the federal government shutdown approached.A client’s shipment from Saudi Arabia was on hold for a customs inspection at a port in Norfolk, Virginia, and needed to be released. His team at Oceana Global Logistics, based in Fort Myers, reached out to contacts in U.S. Customs and Border Protection and made arrangements to move the cargo just before the government shuttered on a Friday in late December.

It was Oceana’s first time experiencing a federal shutdown, but Dep says the company is prepared to work 24/7 exporting and importing automobiles, machinery, electrical parts, and other non-hazardous and perishable materials via ground, air and ocean for international companies. The small business handles multimillion-dollar accounts with a client roster that includes Ford Motor Co.

“It’s one community working together around the world to get the product moved from the United States to the world and world to the United States,” says Dep, Oceana’s co-founder and CEO.

Oceana does not own vessels but handles clients’ documentation, logistics and supply chain needs in North America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Oceana is bonded and licensed by the Federal Maritime Commission.

Revenue has grown every year, largely due to customer loyalty, referrals and a proper business plan, says Dep, who declined to provide figures. Oceana’s services include U.S. Customs clearance, consolidation of freight, wide-scale distribution, end-to-end deliveries (getting from point A to point B), repacking cargo, dangerous good certification and letters of credit documentation and filing. Recent projects include importing cargo to the U.S. for power plant construction sites, while one of its biggest export markets is Dubai.

Dep, who was born in Sri Lanka, worked in the banking industry when he immigrated to the United States. After accounting and finance roles in the logistic industry, he launched Oceana Global Logistics in Atlanta in 2011 with co-founder Renuka Deva. The company opened a branch office in Southwest Florida a year later because of Deva’s family connections here and subsequently made Fort Myers Oceana’s headquarters.

Oceana has 10 employees in three locations—Fort Myers, Missouri and India— and it plans to add employees and move its local office, currently off Winkler Avenue near Metro Parkway, to a larger space, Dep says. He adds that the company wants to work with more locally owned or headquartered manufacturers to help grow Southwest Florida businesses to the world.

Oceana’s involvement in international networks of freight forwarders, such as WCA (described as “the world’s largest and most powerful network of independent freight forwarders”), FIATA (International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations) and Pangea Logistics Network connects Oceana with manufacturers. But to move cargo from point A to point B requires documenting everything in writing, typically via email, and being quick to respond via phone calls, texts and international messaging services, such as WhatApp.

“We are available to anybody in the United States or any part of the world … any time, any day when they want,” Dep says.

Missouri and India and maintains its data in the cloud.

The lack of freight forwarding companies made it a “rough road” to secure a loan several years ago because banks in Southwest Florida did not have familiarity with their industry, he says.

Dep secured financing with Bank of America in Naples after he provided written explanations about how the business works, how the financial institution would be secure in funding Oceana and how the loan would be paid off. Looking ahead, Dep sees areas of growth in Southeast Asia and India because of the demand for American-made products.

“We need to be part of the chain to get that cargo exported from [the] United States,” he says.