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A tale of two countries, and a 36 feet yard ramp!

We’ve often blogged and created amusing anecdotes about the “Adventures of the Bluff Traveling Banner.” In fact, you might have occasionally seen our Facebook updates on its whereabouts. However, this tale that I am about to narrate involves the adventure of a particular Bluff Yard Ramp – let’s call it 20SYS8436L (the L stands for a 6 feet level off , which I described in my last post.) This is a tale of persistence, hard work, commitment and most importantly, good team work!

On June 22nd, Russell Smith, one of our six inside sales reps, received an online request for quote via the Bluff Manufacturing website. The quote was from Santiago – one of the largest cities in Chile and the capital. The request was in Spanish and required decoding, as he does not speak Spanish. Thanks to Google, we realized the quote request was for two yard ramps. After a series of emails going back and forth, a mutually acceptable price is negotiated for one yard ramp.

By the time a Purchase Order was obtained and wire payment received at the bank and cleared, and the order is entered into the system, it is already July 13th.

Patrice, our contact in Santiago and Russell now begin the interesting, yet onerous task of coordinating the shipment of 20SYS8436L to its new home in Chile. It all began with trying to identify the nearest shipping port to Dallas – being Houston. At this point, neither company is clear on who is responsible for transporting 20SYS8436L to Houston (although Russell has already included the freight cost in the original purchase order). It’s already July 22nd and the Manufacturing of Yard Ramp – 20SYS8436L is complete, the bill (including freight) has been paid, but there is not closure on the Houston destination and who is actually going to get the ramp there.

The purchaser determined that they wanted to coordinate the movement to Houston, identifies a freight broker that they would like to coordinate 20SYS8436L’s safe (and legally compliant) surface shipping to Chile. And now its time for paperwork – includes all the commercial information as well as the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Act) paperwork for international shipping. At this point, we’re unaware that we’re still scratching the surface and there’s a lot more fun stuff in store for us – translation – more paperwork!

All of the paperwork is emailed to our new international client – but only after Teresa, another one of our brilliant inside sales rep, has translated all of it to Spanish! Our client informs us that they are not a part of NAFTA and proceeds to send us documentation in lieu of NAFTA – the Chilean equivalent of it in Spanish, naturally! This time, it’s Cindy Simmons (Purchasing / Credit) to the rescue – she translates the documents for us and the yard ramp is sent packing on its way to Houston.

Is it time for intermission? Should we take a popcorn break? Because we are about to embark on Part Two of this journey. Once the Yard Ramp reaches Houston and is in the hands of our customer’s freight broker, we are informed that more documentation is required from our end. You didn’t think shipping something this big to another continent was going to be this simple, did you? No, neither did we. It turns out that in order to ship the yard ramp to Chile, we (the manufacturers) were required to send an original invoice, and two copies of the certificate of origin, which we emailed, to our customers who then proceeded to inform us that only hard copies of the original documents along with an AWB (Airway Billing) form were acceptable.  Kellie, our ever-reliable Receptionist investigates UPS International and learns how to send the requisite documents overnight.

With all the documentation in place, the yard ramp makes its way to its final destination and its new home in Santiago, Chile on the 6th of September! Victory is ours! We did it! Wait, what? It’s not over? Russell gets an email – the Owners Manual was “destroyed” during transit. Russell sends another copy. AND the ramp arrived at international shipping in a container on its wheels! In the U.S., it arrives on a flatbed on its side and hence, our offloading instructions are written accordingly. This time, our Bluff engineers Chris and Wes bail us out by developing offloading instructions for the unique delivery – in Spanish! We’re almost done, but not quite yet. On September 8th, the purchaser requests a Spanish version of the owners manual. Nope, not a tall order at all. Nothing is impossible for us. Cynthia Schneider, our marketing manager, employs  Google Translator again and the SECOND Spanish Owners Manual is sent to Santiago. On September 9th, we get another email from our customer – only to say – in perfect English – “Excellent, perfect!”

Across a span of three months and two continents, a unique sale was made. As Shakespeare says, all is well that ends well. So long, 20SYS8436L! We know you will provide your new owners with many long years of solid service and safe loading dock solutions.  Thank you Bluff employees for taking a challenging situation and handling it with the Bluff can-do spirit!  Andy if anyone knows of a dealer, who services Central and South America, please send us their contact info! We have proved our mettle! No pun intended!