Capt. S.B. Mazumder is Executive Director of Conqueror’s exclusive agent in Kolkata. Recently he spoke with us about how this company has grown from its humble origins to a logistics powerhouse in all the major cities across India.
Q. Could you tell us a little about the history of the Seahorse Ship Agencies?
A. The company was founded in 1979 by two brothers Capt. Avinash C. Batra and Capt. Somesh C. Batra – both Master Mariners with a sea faring background. Initially, the business was started as a Cargo Surveyors and gradually it expanded into a shipping agency, empty container depot operator and also freight forwarding and logistics activities. Over the years, having expanded into various shipping activities, several companies were registered to “avoid conflict of interests among the various principals” and we call ourselves “THE SEAHORSE GROUP OF COMPANIES”. A few years prior to the global recession in 2008, we were also operating as NVOCC operators with leased containers. Fortunately, all containers were off hired just prior to the recession.
Over the years we have grown to a fairly large group of companies operating as the Indian Agent for several renowned Shipping Lines, namely Yang Ming Line, Korea Marine Transport Company Ltd., Ceylon Shipping Co. Ltd., Sanko Steamship Co. Ltd., BHP Billiton, and a few Chinese Tramp Ship Owners and Operators. Today, our group is considered to be one of the most professionally run shipping companies in India.
Q. When and how did you get into the industry and when did you join Seahorse?
A. I joined the company as Regional Manager on 1st June 1982 when the companies’ first branch office was opened in Kolkata Port. Gradually our offices expanded to the other metro cities of Chennai, New Delhi, Cochin, Tuticorin, Visakhapatnam, Bangalore, Ludhiana, Ahmedabad, Kandla etc. In view of my long association with this group, I was elevated to the all India position of Executive Director based in Kolkata.
Q. The company has been in operation for 34 years now, what have been its most significant achievements during those years?
A. Firstly, I would have to say the commencement and expansion from a single office in Mumbai to 16 across India with a work force of about 370. I can honestly say that our staff are our biggest asset. Our reputation as a professional company resulted in acquiring the all India agency of 8 internationally renowned container shipping lines, bulk & break bulk shipping lines & agencies of two of the world’s leading container leasing companies, namely Textainer and Triton. Most of our Container Shipping Principals after several years of operating with us, have opened their own offices in India which has become the fashion. However, two of our valued Principals namely Yang Ming Line and Sanko Steamship Co. Ltd have both opened joint venture companies with our group in India at all port locations.
We also operate another fairly large business i.e. One of our Group Companies is the largest empty container storage depot operator in India having our own depots at every Port and ICD in India. We are continuously named the ‘Best Depot’ by the world’s largest container leasing company Textainer.
Q. Does Seahorse specialise in any particular type of shipment?
A. Moving import projects in India has become one of our key areas. Even though we are not a particularly large operator, we enjoy the challenge and financial rewards they bring. One of our most memorable such shipments was the movement of a water treatment plant machinery which arrived in 60 x 40’ OT/FR cargo from the Port of Haldia to the plant about 650 Km away.
Q. What was it about CONQUEROR that initially attracted you?
A. As a freight forwarder, we had used ‘unknown companies’ in the past from all over the world as partners. As a result, we have faced a considerable loss of business due to poor service from several overseas agents and a lot of unnecessary charges were collected at some destinations. Hence, we were keen to become a member of a good worldwide freight network and thus we came across CQR and decided to join up.
Q. How does being in CONQUEROR help Seahorse Ship Agencies?
A. We have found the member companies to be generally pro-active, prompt in response and professionally sound. Business growth generally is slower at the moment due to the global recession but we are confident that as part of this network, we will see better days ahead.