thomas smith group offices showing the facade with insurance and shipping logos marking the 170th anniversary

The path to prosperity is full of rough trails; nevertheless, the destination promises great triumphs. In 2018, Thomas Smith is commemorating its 170th anniversary of the Group’s business venture. Such a prestigious event compels us to take a look back at the company’s humble beginnings and trace the milestones accomplished throughout the years.

The Group’s inception dates back to 1848, establishing its presence in the Maltese market through service offerings related to freight transportation. William Jennison Smith, the founder whose surname influenced the name of the company at the time, that of Smith and Co., served as a port agency and coal merchant to various corporations, including British India Steam Navigation Company, White Star Line and P&O, amongst others. The company’s records are abundant with historic recollections of early logistics commerce.

Conscious of the considerable responsibility and risk closely related to the business of shipping, the company forged an additional service to offer peace of mind to its shipping clients, which is nowadays recognised as Thomas Smith’s Insurance arm. Its initial offerings granted coverage for vessels and cargo, which eventually expanded into today’s full set of insurance offerings through its agency and brokerage; from motor, travel and home insurance, to business and marine policies.

The company’s shipping division continued to develop with the appointment of Mr Joe Gerada as the Group’s Managing Director, 35 years ago. After being placed at the helm of the enterprise, Joe Gerada elevated the Port Agency offerings and introduced new Freight Forwarding services, aligned with the original ones provided.

Joe Gerada as managing director of thomas smith group celebrating 170 years

In 2009, Thomas Smith reached a new high within the Shipping industry, through securing exclusive local representation of the global container company, Maersk Line. The Danish company placed complete trust in Thomas Smith in handling its vessels and cargo movements once they reach Maltese ports, which placed Malta as the central Mediterranean hub. They also trusted Thomas Smith with serving the local domestic market with container shipping.

The Group evolved from a company with a great reputation with financial dire needs and little business activity to a robust commercial model. Getting too close to death many times, Thomas Smith Group established its position with the top leaders in the field; from having just a dozen employees to enlisting 80 skilled employees of various ages and nationalities within a few decades.

Operating within an innovative sector doesn’t allow for one moment of rest, which is reflected through the myriad of services introduced across the years, with the latest addition consisting of groupage services offering from the Far East in September 2018.

Freight Forwarding now dominates in all transport methods, whether it’s air, sea or land. Cargo movement includes International Out of Gauge Loads, Logistics, Project Cargo, Air Freight movements, storage facilities for merchandise, full load container services and transhipments across international waters and land. Shipping services also branch out to tailored tasks, such as Pet Cargo and Film Logistics. Recently, the Shipping division has established a Dedicated Trucks service; a smooth, logistical alternative to cargo transits within Europe.

With a bright future ahead, Thomas Smith is once again embracing change, this time within its leadership team. After four decades of influence, Joe Gerada has announced the Group’s new Board of Directors, made up of established heads; Denis Galea, Wayne Xuereb, and Liana Cachia as executive members; as well as Hannah Smith and Cristina Gerada as non-executive family members;  and John Zarb as a consultant. With this strengthened team, the Group will benefit from an enhanced skill set, verging from human resource management, marketing, finance and logistics. The three new executive members gather 60 years of experience between them, working in the field of administration, human resources, shipping, insurance, customer service, sales, performance management, marketing and finance. Through the new leadership skills, Thomas Smith Group is set to strengthen the team and lead the way for a stronger and greater future in shipping, ports, logistics and insurance.

170 years is a grand milestone. The new leadership team is eager to set sail onto new business horizons and aims to keep renewing its vision over time and with advancements brought by macroenvironmental forces. Joe Gerada’s goal will keep on resonating throughout the next 170 years – “focus on what we do at ever improved levels of quality, ensuring customer loyalty and long-term partnership”.