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Maritime

Norfolk Firm Acquires Waters Shipping Co. In Wilmington

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Sep 27, 2017
A Norfolk, Virginia-based freight forwarder and customs broker has acquired a Wilmington company, merging two family-operated businesses that will serve importers and exporters in an office next to the Port of Wilmington.

CV International (CVI) announced this week that it has completed the acquisition of Wilmington-based Waters Shipping Company, according to a news release from CVI. The terms were not disclosed.

CVI is a provider of freight forwarding (organizing shipments for distribution), customs brokerage, regulatory compliance and international logistics services.

CVI President Michael Coleman said Wednesday the acquisition was a strategic move for the company and puts CVI in a unique position to serve its North Carolina-based clientele with its new Wilmington office.

"The Port of Wilmington is a niche port. And a growing port and so we see a lot of opportunity down the road in having a physical presence in the Port of Wilmington," Coleman said. "We are one of really very few international freight forwarders and customs brokers that will have a physical office presence in the Port of Wilmington. So that puts us in a unique position to serve the client. Our office is going to be right outside the gate of the port."

CVI has four other locations in the mid-Atlantic region and the Southeastern United States, including Norfolk, Baltimore, Atlanta and Charlotte. The company has a base of about 60 employees, Coleman said. 

CVI's new office location in Wilmington will be at 2307 Burnett Blvd. in the current space Waters Shipping Company has occupied for more than 50 years.

Waters Shipping Company has a long history in Wilmington. The company was founded in February 1960 by O. W. “Bill” Waters and is still led by the same family, with Catherine Chafin as the current president.

"We've known Waters for a very long time .. and we have done a lot of work with them," Coleman said. "They've been around for a long time and have an excellent reputation. And for us, incorporating their history and our history is really important. CV is a family business and carrying on that legacy in the Port of Wilmington is very appealing to us as a company."

Chafin, the daughter of Bill Waters, had worked with her father's company in high school, she said. She returned to the firm after raising her two daughters and became a licensed customs broker in 1990. Chafin took over Waters Shipping after her father died in 2013.

"He loved the business," Chafin said of her father. "He worked until about two weeks before he passed."

The company has a second location in Raleigh that serves air freight cargo clearances into Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Chafin said, adding that the second location was part of the acquisition with CVI.

The two people on staff at Waters Shipping Company and another in Raleigh will join the CVI team. Chafin will remain with the company for the transition of the business and will retire by January 2018.

“I have two daughters and neither one of them are interested in the company ... and it's time I decided what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” Chafin said.

“We were just a small family business that has really enjoyed this industry because it is so diverse and nothing is ever the same. CVI is a family firm, who has our same values, and I am very fortunate to be able to say that because there are not many companies that are small enough to give the quality service that we feel our customers deserve,” she added.

CVI was established in 1991 by the merger of two Norfolk, Virginia-based forwarders: Coleman International Inc. and E. L. Vanderberry Company Inc., according to CVI's website. Wayne Coleman, father of Michael Coleman and CVI’s current CEO, founded Coleman International in 1984 and is currently acting CEO of the combined company.

"We've grown by adding good people to our company. There's been organic growth and also growth through acquisitions. This isn't the first time we've bought another company. We've probably bought five or six companies in the last 10 years," Michael Coleman said of CVI's success over more than two decades. "We're really fortunate to have a lot of great people working for the company. It's a family business and it runs like a family business. And everybody at the company is extremely dedicated to the growth and taking care of our customers. A lot of our customers we've had for years and we've grown with them."

Michael Coleman said CVI does has an interest in trying to grow the office in Wilmington, but while additional hires could be down the road, the company will operate with its current local employee base.

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