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American Honda’s Mark Hirzel: ‘You Have to Pace Yourself in the CTPAT Rollout Marathon’

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Mark Hirzel brings over 30 years of customs brokerage and logistics experience to his position as export manager-customs in the Trade Services department of the Finance division for American Honda Motor Company. After earning his individual customs brokerage license in 1989, Hirzel held a variety of operational, compliance, and management positions in the customs brokerage and freight-forwarding industry.

Prior to joining American Honda Motor Company in 2017, Hirzel served as district manager for A.N. Deringer, Inc., overseeing the firm’s Los Angeles customer service center and supporting its ongoing customs brokerage and freight-forwarding operations. Throughout his career, Hirzel has held positions of increasing responsibility within the realm of global trade management and customs brokerage operations and automation.

Hirzel has a strong presence in the Southern California trade community, serving on the boards of numerous associations including the Los Angeles Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association, Inc., The Foreign Trade Association, The Center for International Trade and Transportation at California State University Long Beach, and the International Seafarers Center of Long Beach. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration-marketing management, with a concentration in international marketing, from California Polytechnic University.

AIAG: What has been the AIAG CTPAT Planning Sub-Committee’s role regarding updated changes from the CBP?

Mark HirzelHirzel: U.S. Customs has come out with new minimum supply chain security criteria. The basic supply chain criteria in CTPAT has not been updated in 20 years. AIAG brought together a sub-committee to clarify and better understand some of the newly released criteria from U.S. Customs.

When something is new, everyone tries to internally benchmark against the new criteria. And they want to know what their competitors and colleagues in the industry are doing and how they are responding to the changes. No one wants to lose their CTPAT status — companies work very hard to secure it and very hard to keep it — so people are a bit anxious about the rollout, which takes effect in January 2020.

The AIAG sub-committee’s work has been to make sure we understand the new criteria so we can communicate about that and answer questions from the membership.

AIAG: As a member of the AIAG sub-committee that has studied the new CTPAT criteria, what is your advice?

Hirzel: You have to pace yourself in the marathon, making sure you aren’t getting too far ahead in the pack because we need to see what CBP’s expectations really are. Sometimes the best practice comes into play and that becomes the new norm, but it may not be easily sustainable for others who are getting caught up in the race. That’s what we have to keep an eye on as an industry.

AIAG: What benefits have you realized by participating in AIAG as a volunteer over the last couple of years?

Hirzel: I’ve been volunteering and serving on AIAG committees since November 2017, and lately, have been active on the Supply Chain Security Committee. The great thing about AIAG is that you serve on committees with extremely competent people from a variety of companies who are able to build on each other’s intelligence and ideas to benefit the overall membership and industry.

For me, the value as a volunteer is networking with others in the industry – and even others in my own company whom I have not had the opportunity to work with. This industry is huge, and the more we can interact with each other, it helps us to understand the overall business.

Volunteering has helped me understand more about industry culture as well as the culture of my own company so I can differentiate between how people in the industry do things versus how we at our company do things.

What I like most about AIAG is that it is an organization run by its members and facilitated by knowledgeable AIAG staff, which executes on our visions and direction. That’s not true at all industry associations where sometimes the tail wags the dog.

AIAG: Why is it important for automotive professionals in this space to attend AIAG’s upcoming Customs Town Hall on November 7th?

Hirzel: AIAG members in the customs and logistics area absolutely need to attend the annual Customs Town Hall. Customs is like a big diamond with many facets, and some are more relevant to our industry than others. This event focuses, like a laser, on Customs topics which are specific to the automotive sector. This program focuses on the needs of the automotive industry and its suppliers.

At the AIAG Customs Town Hall, the topics truly are on point and completely up to date. The program’s focus is on being important and relevant — not just on topics important today but also the topics that will be important tomorrow and how to plan ahead.

The Customs Town Hall has great networking. The speakers’ expertise and the comments from the audience are invaluable.

For more information on the AIAG Customs Town Hall including registration, click here or call AIAG Customer Service at (248) 358-3003.