Standing on the coast of Savannah, Georgia, visitors, and locals are treated to a sparkling view of behemoth ships coming and going in the port. In reality, they’re so much more than we can see in photos and, on occasion, the beauty of cargo steamships can be life-changing. For Sonja Martinov, the twinkling lights of a thousand-foot vessel just off the shore was an early glimpse of a successful career.
Though her first position at Argents was in quoting, Sonja moved into the ocean export department when a vacancy opened up and Argents found her a place. Within a year she was the department lead – that year was 2020. Embarking on a leadership position amid the chaos of the pandemic, Sonja understood her job as the Ocean Export Lead would be far different than ever before.
“Ocean was step by step, slow and methodical – steady like a ship until the pandemic. Now it’s so different. Demand is wild, everything needs to be done at the same time, urgency is the new normal,” Sonja explains. Her voice is far from dejected by the change.
When asked her opinion on working in a post-pandemic industry she can’t keep a smile out of her voice. “I’m thriving and learning. The best part of this job is being able to answer complex questions and find solutions to challenges we’ve never seen before. Disappointed customers come to us for help and we can be creative and rewrite the rules. It feels so good to help someone who thinks hope is lost.”
The future of ocean freight is expansion; more service offerings, better technology and the ability to grow alongside clients to understand their evolving needs. It’s Sonja’s mission to make sure her team is ready to meet the moment. “We went from simple bookings to complex logistical and geographical puzzles that we need to solve for clients.”
At peak demand, ocean carriers are holding all the cards – a situation that can’t be surprising considering the previous decade saw intense mergers and acquisitions of struggling steamship lines. “Normalization is coming in late 2023 or even 2024, but shippers will be in control and carriers are trying to prepare for that. Just the inflation alone shows that the imbalance is unsustainable. We see rates going up six-fold; Savannah, GA to Melbourne, Australia went from $3,000 – $18,000 and that always gets passed onto consumers in the end. Every cent we save, every minute we shave off a delay, those are the reasons our customers trust us. We know it matters. Clients matter. At Argents we live that mission.”
The mission goes far beyond just caring about the customers in Sonja’s eyes. “It’s important to continuously work to save money and prevent delays for our customers. We care and we try to show we care, but also this is also our mark on the global supply chain that affects each and every individual. We live in this industry – we understand it from a professional and a consumer perspective. This is our way of working to make it better for everyone. That’s the Argents way.”