Path to the Queens Award
Kestrel began as a two-person operation 16 years ago, opening its first office on April 30, 1994.
Nearly exactly 16 years on, the company celebrated the Queen’s Award at a stunning reception at the House of Commons where we were delighted to receive the Award from Bruce Houlder QC DL with an audience of customers, principals, High Commissioners and Ambassadors from around the world.
Andy Thorne left school at 16 with no qualifications, and his mother lined him up as toolmakers apprentice at Fords. Absolutely hating the role, he left but never one to let people down he continued to leave the house each day in his overalls, only to spend the day at the nearby job centres. In the nick of time a job came up that instantly appealed to his love of sailing and geography. He learnt to sail at a young age, courtesy of his step father who had sailed around the world not once, but twice. Once in each direction. Andy skippered the yacht “Crazy Horse” into Ostend Harbour at the tender age of 14. So a job interview at a shipping company dealing with the Caribbean presented an opportunity not to be missed.
He rose through the ranks rapidly, travelling to the Caribbean just before his 18th birthday to handle ships in Trinidad, Andy has an innate understanding and love of the tropics, and made his core business the niche markets of the Caribbean Islands, Latin America and Africa.
Originally Kestrel offered shipping from the UK. Now the company offers specialist shipping services from anywhere in the world and is able to provide a truly global service. Kestrel’s expertise in these areas means that we truly understand how to get cargo shipped to locations which are often difficult to work in or need certain equipment due to their accessibility. We have in depth knowledge in our market places and are able to provide proactive, flexible services that are tailor made to suit our customer’s needs.
The company is much more than “just a shipping line” offering many other ancillary services and above all else with superlative customer service, and the one on one relationships that is the Kestrel hallmark. The sheer volume of services that Kestrel offers means that customers have a one stop shop for all of their supply chain needs, from the Operational necessities of documentation, Customs clearance, transport and warehousing, through to a network of worldwide agency offices that help with translations, interpreting, supplier negotiation, and sourcing of global products on behalf of our clients. Kestrel offers project management whether it is a new hotel build or a private villa to ensure that the timing plans work appropriately. We ensure there are regular visits around our market places from all staff, including Andy who is hands on in the business to this day, and is as likely to be found cutting a deal with a mega carrier as he is serving in a shop on behalf of one of our busy “Mom and Pop” customers in the Caribbean.
We are one of the few companies that can support all types of cargo whether it be frozen, chilled or ambient, containerised small parcels, barrels or pallets as well as huge, difficult or heavy items. We have a big presence in the energy sector shipping the elements that make up giant oil rigs, and the power industry where we move everything from huge reels of cable, solar panels or the giant wind turbines that are now a feature of the modern landscape.
We have many high profile customers, for whom our work is usually very private, but on this occasion we are delighted to share that we shipped Sir Richard Branson’s latest purchase, his new submarine the “Necker Nymph”, named by Kestrel employee Nicola Gilbert.
“Virgin Limited Edition and some of our Properties have collaborated closely with Kestrel Liner over the past few years on a wide range of shipping requirements, from a new submarine, to boats, equipment, and even down to supplying food for our flamingos on Necker Island.
Our shipments have always involved a few challenges whether they be precious cargo with extremely tight deadlines, or just stroppy customs officials, and these have all been handled very efficiently and without complaint by Andy, Nicola and the rest of their team. All their effort has certainly not gone unnoticed and we are always pleased to deal with them and wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Kestrel Liners to anyone with any shipping requirements”
Yet we still retain many very small customers, whose business is equally important to us, and we are proud to say that many have been with Kestrel since the early days, This philosophy of truly understanding what the customer needs has driven the success of the company, and enabled the company to grow to its current size. With worldwide agents, and offices in the UK, Miami, Nassau, Curacao and Trinidad, and in 2010 two new offices – Belgium, with a new service to the Pacific, N Korea, Mongolia and far eastern Russia, and Humberside, handling out of gauge and breakbulk cargo, which complements our Aberdeen office that handles the Oil and Gas industry.
Kestrel also tries to put something back, working with Green Achiever UK, and also heavily involved in many charities such as the Jason Roberts foundation in Grenada, assisting under privileged children in soccer schools through to our World Aid service, most recently with bespoke emergency advice teams and arranging the first NGO charter into the disaster zone in Haiti.
Being able to succeed in the shipping business in the face of the “mega-carriers” is an achievement indeed.
So whether you are a store importing stock, or a hotel construction project, or simply buying furniture for your home from overseas, there is no better reference than the Queen's Award.
KESTREL LINER AGENCIES LTD
Path to the Queens Award