Trio of Kitsap women excel in global shipping industry

Pacific Rim Shipbrokers, Inc., a woman-owned small business in Kitsap County, has been making waves in the global shipping market.

Jennifer A. Montgomery, president; Julie A. Khan, controller; and Kelle M. Horn, vice president were long-term employees and co-workers who worked well together and shared a similar work ethic and vision for the company when they bought it in 2016 when the original owners since 1984 decided to sell.

One of the challenges of running an international business from Kitsap is the significant time zone difference and the relative lack of a dry bulk community in the region. To overcome that, the company has made a concerted effort to maintain visibility in its global markets, which includes early mornings and late nights to align with various time zones.

Additionally, the team uses multiple communication tools such as phone, text, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom and Teams. Pacific Rim has expanded its portfolio to include government contracting related to freight for bulk, breakbulk and project cargoes. The women said after acquiring the company, they kept what they knew worked and brought in fresh ideas and approaches. They registered with the federal government as a Women-Owned Small Business to facilitate freight solutions for USAID agricultural cargoes.

However, they discovered other opportunities closer to home. Their meeting with the small-business deputy for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at a conference led to a contract that involved chartering and operating commercial vessels to support naval missions. With decades of experience in local and international maritime, Pacific Rim could provide cost-effective and flexible support to government contracts. Their ability to act as a sub-contractor for the maritime needs of large prime contractors further showcases their versatility.

The trio said the APEX Accelerator Program, a program of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, has been instrumental in their success. APEX is formerly known as the Procurement Technical Assistance Program.

The trio also said they have applied business and marketing principles learned at KEDA-sponsored conferences and courses to their non-governmental projects. Pacific Rim serves as a charterer’s broker. It prioritizes the interests and needs of clients when negotiating freight rates and contracts for various commodities. That approach ensures they mitigate the risk when moving cargo via bulk or project carriers.

The team understands how contract clauses behave in real-world situations. That insight allows them to negotiate terms favorable for clients. They have also cultivated relationships with owners worldwide. In an industry where the lowest price can sometimes result in costly mistakes, Pacific Rim leverages their market knowledge to provide charterers with the best rates and reliable owners.