BARRINGTON, Ill., Oct. 31, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Boomerang carnets® and its parent company, the Kernow Capital Corporation, announced today, with great sadness, the passing of Founder and Director Bruce Alan Wilson on October 17 at age 87. An ATA Carnet pioneer and surety bond visionary, Wilson spent 55 years in trade, transportation and community leadership.
"It is with profound sadness that we say goodbye to our beloved father and founder," said Curt E.H. Wilson, co-chairman and CEO of boomerang carnets. "Bruce leaves behind a legacy as a man who challenged and shaped so much of the trade, transportation, customs and carnet bond industry with his grace, charm and wit."
Mr. Wilson's career in surety (specializing in customs), international trade insurance, ATA Carnet, customs brokerage, freight forwarding and entrepreneurship spans 55 years. He was a world-renowned specialist in ATA Carnets, carnet bonds and U.S. Customs bonds.
In addition to developing innovative distribution channels through customs brokers and freight forwarders for U.S. Customs bonds in the 1960s, he also assisted in authoring the vast majority of customs bonds and carnet bonds in the United States.
The fact that customs bonds are now in a paperless/electronic environment is primarily due to Mr. Wilson's vision (which included a 1980s electronic bond proposal to what is now U.S. Customs and Border Protection) and relentless lobbying of the typical turf-protecting, resistant-to-change government agency. During that time, he also established four captive insurance companies, all of which survive today as mainstream companies in the U.S. and international surety market.
Succeeding his mentor, Curt E. Hamann, in 1969, Mr. Wilson became CEO and chairman of Roanoke Agency, now RTS, until 1985. Serving the insurance needs of importers and their customs brokers, he grew the company from its origin headquarters offices in Chicago, to New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Cleveland, Houston, Miami, Seattle, Baltimore, and Charleston. Upon learning of Mr. Wilson's death, RTS Regional Vice President Dennis Gates said, "You couldn't be in his presence and not be influenced by him."
In 1976, Bruce created Washington International Insurance Company to further serve this industry. From 1969 to 1981 Mr. Wilson also served as chairman and CEO of J.E. Bernard and Co., Inc., one of the largest and most prominent customs house brokers and freight forwarders in the Chicago metropolitan area, with an additional office in New York City.
During that same period, he was on the board of directors of JE Bernard Ltd., a leading UK freight forwarding and logistics management company. He remained as a director until the strategic sale in 2007 to one of the world's leading conglomerates and logistics companies, The Bolloré Group. JE Bernard/Bernard Group UK received numerous gold and silver "Freight Service Awards" from the British Institute of Freight Agents each year since 1992, including January 2002.
"Bruce was an extraordinary, gifted man whose unique qualities as a human being influenced greatly all those who had the good fortune and privilege of knowing him," said Edwin Kimber, chairman and CEO of The Bernard Group Plc, '97–'09. "Without his inspiration, belief, unfailing support and friendship, my success would not have been possible."
"My one overriding memory is of his faith in giving opportunities to young people and then supporting them through their own development period, despite sometimes difficult times, which then enabled them to progress their careers and to contribute to the businesses in which he was involved," said Alan R. Wood, director and chief operating officer of The Bernard Group Plc, '93–'09. "He had the perception of picking out future entrepreneurs who would forever remain indebted to him for the opportunities he gave them."
Mr. Wilson's contributions to the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) established the USCIB as the premier national guaranteeing association in the ATA Carnet system of 87 countries and territories. He traveled extensively internationally representing the USCIB at International Chamber of Commerce and World Customs Organization gatherings. Through that effort he developed a deep understanding of both North American and international surety markets.
One of his many accomplishments at USCIB was the development and implementation of a bi-lateral agreement between the United States and Taiwan that mirrors the ATA Carnet system, thus opening Taiwan to additional U.S. trade and trade promotion. This bilateral agreement resulted in the development of the TECRO/AIT carnet, which is used by U.S. exporters who wish to enter commercial goods (professional equipment, commercial samples or exhibitions and fairs) temporarily into Taiwan.
USCIB's president, Peter Robinson, recently said, "Bruce has been a big part of my life and that of the USCIB. We learned a lot from his acumen, business sense and creativity." Glendy Sung, ATA Carnet services director at USCIB, said, "Mr. Wilson helped and mentored many people around him. His impact on others was exceptional."
And USCIB consultant, Darren Maynard said, "It is a significant loss to the carnet world and everyone Bruce touched with his love and care for the industry he shaped into what it is today."
Although Mr. Wilson was regarded as an expert in his fields, he was first and foremost a successful entrepreneur. His venture, Corporation for International Business, known worldwide by its brand name boomerang carnets, began as a claims handling operation for carnets in 1987, and has grown into a major player in the carnet and carnet bond market in the U.S. For example, boomerang carnets' market share grew from 15 percent in 1996 to 45 percent in 2018, and it continues to be the most innovative company of its kind. Boomerang carnets' foray into the internet began in 1996 when the first online carnet application system was introduced. Carnets-By-Internet® marked a significant improvement in the application process and was the only online application available in the U.S. for several years.
Mr. Wilson's entrepreneurial spirit, critical and creative mind, and professional mentorship significantly influenced many others, and in 1991 inspired the founding of Trade Risk Guaranty (TRG), the first customs bond agency to sell directly to importers. He later became an investor and board member of TRG, a company that has grown and flourished by implementing the innovative thinking that Mr. Wilson encouraged.
"Bruce was my mentor," said John Michel, founder and President of TRG. "He inspired business creativity, cultivated leadership and challenged my thought process, always asking, 'why?' This prompted me to deeply reflect and improve the idea."
Mr. Wilson and Kernow Capital Corporation, in partnership with TRG, established the start-up Trade Bridge International Brokers in 2006, automating the direct filing of customs entries and thereby supporting U.S. importers to reduce their costs and streamline the entry process. This enterprise continues today as Strix LLC, providing innovative services to U.S. importers.
Always looking for opportunities for expansion, Mr. Wilson brought boomerang carnets' innovation to the U.K. in 2015 with a strategic partnership with the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. Currently growing at an annual rate of 18 percent, boomerang carnets UK has been the answer to the UK's stagnant temporary export industry by alleviating excessive fees to process an ATA Carnet application. "And, we went in before there was talk of Brexit!" he said recently, envisioning the growth his new company will experience after March 29, 2019.
In addition to his many contributions to the business world, Mr. Wilson played a significant role in the success of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre. His strong belief in the future theatrical powerhouse led him to bet on the fledgling company and personally sign their first bank loan. Mr. Wilson served as Steppenwolf's first board president.
"Without his crucial and founding support the 40 plus years of our artistic home simply wouldn't exist," said Steppenwolf co-founder Jeff Perry. "It was one short chapter for him, but for me a crucial chapter in his abundant life. Bruce shaped my life, forever, for the better."
His history and political science studies at Wayne State University, in Michigan, fueled his lifelong interest in politics. He was elected to the school board in Lake County, IL's District 111, in the 1970s. In addition, Mr. Wilson was active in the Lake County, IL Republican Party and was elected a precinct committeeman. He also volunteered and sponsored programs for Operation Breadbasket in the 1960s and continued to do so as Breadbasket became known as Operation PUSH and finally to be called the Rainbow Coalition.
His military service comprised two years in the Army (Calvary Dismounted) from 1951 to 1953, serving in Japan during the Korean War. He was most proud of his older brothers' service to their country during WWII.
Mr. Wilson is survived by his wife Kathleen (nee Johnson). Also by son, Curt and daughters, Leslie August and Moira, with former wife, Kathryn M. Hamann, and grandsons Nikolai, Henry, Chuck and Harrison.
For those wishing to attend the memorial service, family and friends will gather at 10 a.m. at Davenport Family Funeral Home, 149 W. Main St., Barrington, IL, with service beginning at noon.
SOURCE boomerang carnets