DAMCO’s Business Resilience Program supports Lebanon team to get operations back up and running within 24 hours of Beirut port blast

Published: Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Hague, the Netherlands: DAMCO’s Beirut-based team, working with the forwarder’s Business Resilience (BR) Program, had operations in Lebanon back up and running within 24 hours after the devastating August 4 blast at the Port of Beirut.

Staff at the freight forwarder’s headquarters in The Hague were able to rapidly assess the safety and welfare of the Lebanon team thanks to communication channels put in place as part of the Program.

Supported by the global DAMCO team working with the BR Program, the Beirut team relocated all office functions to its warehouse facility in Dekwaneh, a suburb of the city, keeping supply chains moving.

“The immediate concern was ‘what is the status of the team members? Are you safe?’,” said Zera Zheng, Head of DAMCO Business Resilience and Security.

“Our office was badly damaged in the blast, but fortunately there were only a few minor injuries across the team, and we were able to work on getting our processes operational as swiftly as possible.

“Business resilience is only effective with a strong, connected team and we are very fortunate to have that with our colleagues around the world.

“It is thanks to the perseverance of the local team and our BR Program that office operations were up and running within 24 hours.”

DAMCO has invested in, and developed, its BR Program over the last two years, preparing staff globally for over 47 different supply chain damaging scenarios with the mission to ‘protect people, product, asset, profit’.

A new Instant Message feature launched earlier this year for its BR App, means specific users or groups can be contacted quickly and speeds up information flow between local and global offices.

“Our thoughts are with all of those who have suffered as a result of this terrible accident,” said Saskia Groen-in’t-Woud, Chief Executive Officer, DAMCO.

“We are incredibly proud of our team in Beirut for tenaciously keeping our customer’s supply chains moving and of our BR Program, which meant that we were prepared and could work quickly to support our colleagues in real-time.”

DAMCO’s Lebanon staff escaped the blast with only minor injuries, with the global team offering assistance to employees and their families.

“The recent regrettable events in Lebanon have shown the importance of having a solid, viable, and tested BR Program,” said Nabil Zahlan, Managing Director of DAMCO Lebanon.

“We are proud to be able to continue assisting our international clients and also numerous Non- Government Organizations (NGOs) and aid and relief agencies with warehouse and logistics services during this difficult time, as we have for the last 15 years.”

“Through communication and transparency via the BR App, we have continued strong relationships with our staff and customers by providing continuous updates on the situation, cargo, and alternative options for individual needs,” said Zheng.

The Dekwaneh facility can handle 40,000 Cubic Metres of freight, and DAMCO Lebanon, which has operated with the same agent in Lebanon for over 25 years, has access to a fleet of 15 trucks.

In 2019 DAMCO’s BR Team successfully managed 94 disruptive events globally and has been working throughout the 2020 COVID-19 crisis to maintain global supply chains.

The blast at the Port of Beirut happened on August 4th 2020 when fireworks stored in a warehouse caught fire and detonated around 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the same building causing at least 180 deaths, over 6,000 injuries, and an estimated USD10-15 billion in property damage.