Our story began, like so many other companies that have come before and after us, with early entrepreneurial aspirations. In 1919, our founder Alfred Neel Deringer acquired portions of his employer’s business, the Raymond P. Lipe Company. The Raymond P. Lipe Company owned and operated a hay grading warehouse located in Italy Yard, along the railway in St. Albans, Vermont. Hay from Canada arrived via rail at the warehouse, where it was sorted by grade before being reloaded back on to railcars headed toward France. These hay shipments supported the cavalry of the Allied Forces at the close of World War I.
1920’s & 30’s
In 1929, the company was granted Customs brokerage license No. 22, by the US Treasury Department. The license allowed the company to provide Customhouse brokerage (CHB) services, which was a natural fit for Mr. Deringer and his colleagues who had firsthand experience with moving goods between countries.
The Tariff Act of 1930 required Customs brokers to post bonds on behalf of their clients; bonds that were purchased from insurance companies. In 1930, Deringer changed its articles of incorporation to provide for operation as a general insurance agency, enabling the company to procure its own bonds. Shortly thereafter, the company moved its headquarters from Italy Yard to Federal Street in St. Albans, Vermont.
1940’s & 50’s
In 1941, Deringer ventured outside the state by acquiring a Customs brokerage company 25 miles northwest of St. Albans in Rouses Point, New York. Cargo was now traveling by truck and rail to and from Canada. The new location was situated along the railway and roadway border crossings, satisfying the needs of cargo flowing by both modes of transportation. New locations and acquisitions continued the company’s early expansion:
- land was purchased in Highgate Springs, Vermont, in 1951;
- an office was opened in Calais, Maine, in 1952;
- Central Vermont Railway’s Customs brokerage business was acquired in 1956, extensively growing the company’s customer portfolio.
1960’s & 70’s
In the years that followed, cargo traveled by road, air, and ocean with more frequency, and a physical presence at ports of entry was paramount to growth in the industry. The Alexandria Bay, New York, office opened in 1969, and the Champlain, New York, service center was built in 1971.
The invention of the ocean shipping container in the 1950’s and the addition of port infrastructure, such as dockside cranes, spurred increased ocean cargo transport. In 1974, the company’s first air and vessel office opened in Boston, Massachusetts.
Deringer was able to demonstrate competency as an ocean transportation intermediary and obtained its freight forwarding license from the Federal Maritime Commission in 1976. The license enabled Deringer to expand its service offering and act as a non-vessel-operating common carrier.
1980’s & 90’s
Deringer’s growth continued through the 1980’s and into the 1990’s. New branches were added, and acquisitions were made along the northern border and at air and vessel ports of entry. This era of our history saw the addition of several new operational locations, including:
- Detroit and Port Huron, Michigan;
- Buffalo and New York City, New York;
- Chicago, Illinois;
- Blaine, Washington;
- Sweet Grass, Montana;
- Los Angeles, California; and
- Pembina and Portal, North Dakota.
Deringer was now established as a national, coast-to-coast brokerage and transportation company. In 1988, Deringer also added a USDA meat inspection facility to its Champlain, New York location.
The North American Free Trade Agreement was signed into law in 1994. The Customs Modernization Act was also passed as part of the same legislative package, an Act that significantly changed the role of stakeholders in the industry. Importers became responsible for conducting their business with reasonable care—meaning they were accountable for trade compliance. In 1999, Deringer responded to the need for compliance direction by forming a consulting division, now called the Deringer Trade Advisory Group.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, brought about additional significant changes in US trade protocols. The Trade Act of 2002 required advance electronic transmission of information on inbound cargo. In 2003, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was created under the newly-established Department of Homeland Security. The Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) program was launched at this time—of which Deringer became a member, and CBP officially adopted the Automated Commercial Environment portal to increase trade efficiency and enhance security.
Deringer continued to expand its focus in lockstep with CBP’s new data requirements and trade compliance efforts. In 2000, Deringer received the first national permit allowing the company to process Customs entries at any port of entry in the country. Over the next five years, service centers opened in Atlanta, Georgia; Houston, Texas; and Seattle, Washington.
In 2006, after earning his individual Customs brokerage license and serving in a variety of leadership roles, Jake Holzscheiter, the great nephew of Alfred Neel Deringer, became President and CEO. With Jake’s ascension to the company’s helm, Deringer continued to foster its robust trade compliance capabilities through its election of personnel to government trade committees, leadership involvement with trade associations, and participation in piloting government trade initiatives. In the years 2009 through 2013, the company combined deep compliance knowledge with technological advancements and filed the first error-free Automated Commercial Enviroment (ACE) entry summary in the nation. Deringer also participated in CBP’s Broker Self-Assessment pilot, Simplified Entry Pilot program, and Importer Self-Assessment Pre-Certification Program.
As the largest domestic, privately-held Customs broker (and 5th largest overall), Deringer is proud that we have continuously reached new milestones during the 100 years since our founding. One recent achievement is the election of Amy Magnus, Deringer’s Director of Customs Affairs and Compliance, to President of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America in 2018. Today, the company continues in the spirit of our heritage to provide award-winning customer service, technology advancements, and a rewarding work environment to our 500 employees.