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Once again, I write to you from overseas. As you read this, I already will have returned home to rejoin a great editorial and sales team, and to deliver to you a robust and informative magazine in order to help you improve your business. This past month, I have been participating in a joint multinational NATO exercise. In April 2004, the 19 members of NATO embraced seven additional countries, bringing the total to 26 member countries. Some of the nations participating in this exercise once were part of the Soviet Union back when they were the adversary.

And there are some that are not part of NATO but have been invited to participate in this and other types of exercises. These countries include Warsaw Pact nations that eventually will become NATO members.

During this exercise, I have had the opportunity to work with officers and enlisted personnel from many of these NATO nations; they are the best in their field from their respective homelands. What is most interesting is that I am working alongside Naval officers from countries that were part of the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. I can only imagine that when we were younger Naval officers deployed to the Mediterranean Sea, or elsewhere in the world, we may have sailed in the same ocean or sea in an opposed posture. But now, we are working together on an important global problem – terrorism. Funny how a common goal can make old resentments seem like a distant memory.

How does any of this relate to what you are doing in your business? Perhaps there was a time when your OE of choice seemed more like an adversary than a partner. Or think back to when the shipping community wasn’t as – let’s say – flexible as it is today. Perhaps you worked with a software company that had no real field support – or a truck stop chain that just had a lot of asphalt for your drivers to park on, and little else.

I could continue, but I suspect you get the point. Here we are today, working in the NATO environment with our one-time opponents … and now we’re joined together against a common foe. The same can be said for carriers, finding common ground with former adversaries, working toward a common goal – business profitability and longevity.

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Some of those same companies today want to partner with you – from truck manufacturers to the software companies that not only track your equipment but also help optimize your operations. What’s cool is that I see it firsthand, but from another perspective: what was yesterday, and now what is today. All the players have not just changed sides, they’ve joined the same team. Energy pooled is more powerful than energy diverted.