Wheels for Wings sponsors vary, but all connect to marine industry risks

The organizations that are sponsoring Wheels for Wings, the transcontinental bicycle ride Global Risk Solutions’ Peter Wiswell is making to raise funds for Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research Inc., are engaged in different businesses, but they have a common connection in marine industry risks.

Wiswell’s sponsors, in addition to GRS, which offers services including environmental risk management and crisis response, are involved in underwriting, environmental technologies, marine insurance law, vessel management, cargo surveying, and more. GRS recently spoke with some of these organizations to learn more about their businesses and their support of Tri-State.

Wheels for Wings began in early May, when Wiswell began pedaling from San Francisco on his way to Tri-State’s headquarters in Newark, Delaware. As of June 25, he reached Kentucky and is steadily making his way across America. His ride is intended to raise awareness and funds to support Tri-State’s Oiled Wildlife Response Team, which treats and rehabilitates contaminated native wild birds.

“We get requests to support different groups, but this one struck a chord with me, due to the business we’re in and knowing the effects oil has on marine wildlife,” commented Todd Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Pacific Gulf Marine in New Orleans. “Wheels for Wings was an easy yes for us. There are certainly companies that have grown and developed in terms of responding to marine casualties, but Tri-State is unique because it focuses strictly on wildlife that’s impacted. We see that here in Louisiana, how the ecosystem can be turned upside down” by an oil spill or other environmental incident.

Pacific Gulf Marine is a U.S.-flagged blue-water marine operator, which manages seven oceangoing vessels shipping cargo all over the world. The company has been in business for more than 45 years and is one of very few that operate under a U.S. flag, Johnson noted. “Probably 98% of oceanborne commerce is carried out by non-U.S. carriers. You don’t see a lot of U.S.-flagged vessels in this industry,” he said. 

Pacific Gulf Marine’s longevity is largely due to its focus – very similar to that of GRS – on risk management and service, Johnson said. “We’ve survived and flourished in an increasingly competitive environment. A lot of our success is the company’s focus on providing high-quality service on a consistent basis. We also say we’re not ship operators; we’re really risk managers. Risk management is a very big piece of our business.”

“When things go wrong on ships, they’re big. Nothing ever takes precedence over safety for us. We operate our fleet in a manner that is safe, mission-capable, and cost-efficient – in that order. We do watch costs, but not at the expense of safety,” Johnson explained.

Another Wheels for Wings sponsor, Ramboll, is supporting Tri-State and making it possible to track Wiswell’s progress. Ramboll is a Copenhagen, Denmark-based global company that provides engineering, architecture and consulting services focused on sustainable solutions. It has approximately 2,000 employees in the United States, including an emergency response practice for oil spills and other environmental incidents, led by Lawrence Malizzi.

“Ramboll has worked with Tri-State for years, supplementing their staff on oil spills and helping to safely capture oiled birds,” Malizzi said. “In addition, we have known Peter (Wiswell) since 1996 and the GRS leadership as a vendor on environmental work relating to claims. Our involvement in Wheels for Wings all came together when Peter told us he was doing a ride for Tri-State.”

One of Ramboll’s solutions is creating dashboards and technologies to monitor incidents and manage environmental liabilities, so “it was natural and easy for us to provide an application that can map Peter’s progress during his ride,” Malizzi explained. “He talked about doing something like Wheels for Wings for a few years to give back, and he has pulled it off. It’s really inspiring.”

“At the heart of it, all of us have a common interest in making the world a better place. Our mission at Ramboll is to provide a sustainable environment through all our activities. Supporting oiled wildlife is just one aspect of that,” Malizzi said.

Atlantic Marine Inspections is another sponsor with a strong connection to the marine risk industry. The West Milford, New Jersey-based company specializes in marine cargo surveying on behalf of insurance companies, a business it has been doing for more than 40 years. In addition to ocean cargo surveying, Atlantic also offers inland marine/motor truck cargo surveying as well as surveying of discharges and yachts, loss prevention services, and logistics consulting.

“We survey everything from valuable pottery, to electronics, and all things in between that are carried as cargo on board oceangoing ships, trucks and planes,” said Jim Louis, Owner and President of Atlantic Marine Inspections. “We have worked with Peter (Wiswell) and Joe Daneman (GRS Executive General Adjuster and Senior Marine Claims Specialist) for many years, and they are great to work with. When Peter mentioned he was doing Wheels for Wings and raising money for Tri-State, we were happy to support this effort,” Louis said.

Like GRS and Tri-State, Atlantic Marine Inspections is committed to delivering responsive service, Louis added. “When things happen in the marine business, you’ve got to act fast. We’re large enough to serve but small enough to care. We take pride in our service. We treat assureds with dignity and respect, and we’re fair and reasonable with everybody.”

Other sponsors of Wheels for Wings include: Nicoletti, Hornig & Sweeney, a leading law firm specializing in marine insurance, shipping and transportation litigation, and admiralty and maritime law; and the Crestlea Foundation, a private foundation supporting non-profit organizations in social services, environmental, civic and other sectors.

In a previous post, GRS interviewed Justin Mongello, President and CEO of Water Quality Insurance Syndicate. WQIS, the largest underwriter of marine pollution liability insurance in the United States and a pioneer of comprehensive marine coverages, is the presenting sponsor of Wheels for Wings. “The work Tri-State does in treating and rehabilitating oiled birds is amazing, and it’s a reminder of the importance of strong risk management and spill response. WQIS encourages everybody to visit the Tri-State website, consider becoming a member, volunteer, and donate to Wheels for Wings,” Mongello said. 

For more information on Peter Wiswell’s journey, visit www.globalrisksolutions.com and follow GRS on social media.

To see his progress during Wheels for Wings, click here to see a daily tracker built by Ramboll.

To contribute to Wheels for Wings, please visit https://tristatebird.givingfuel.com/wheelsforwings.