From his office in Eastport, commercial shipbroker Brian Houst interacts with maritime professionals around the world. Closer to home, he is passionate about connecting local maritime professionals and growing the local maritime industry.
An Annapolis resident and president of the Annapolis Maritime Society (AMS), Houst graduated in 2002 from Fort Schuyler, the SUNY Maritime College, where he served as student government president and played and coached lacrosse, while earning a U.S. Coast Guard Third Mate’s License and a master’s degree. Presently, Houst and his wife (both Long Island natives) reside in Annapolis with their two young sons.
What is a commercial ship broker?
Similar to a stockbroker, I’m an intermediary who puts together deals based on my relationships and professional expertise. My job involves the art of finding ships for cargo that is being shipped internationally. Brokers such as me might represent a ship owner, cargo holder, or both. At times a deal can involve as many as four brokers—in-house brokers for the seller and buyer, plus a couple of outside brokers who are intermediaries. Most people would probably be surprised to learn how wide the scope of my profession is.
There are so many different directions one can go in this field. In my career I’ve brokered ships for niche cargo, become an expert on foreign shipping regulations, chartered ships, dealt with government contracts, brokered ship sales, and dealt in shipping futures.
What kind of ships do you broker?
The ships I deal with are tankers or dry bulk, not the container ships that Bay boaters frequently encounter in the shipping channels of the Chesapeake. Unlike tankers and dry bulk vessels, container ships are tariff-based and don’t have brokers. The time frames for pairing cargo and vessels can vary, but usually the deals I am brokering are for ships and cargo that need to be paired within a few weeks. In addition to brokering immediate shipping needs, there is also “futures” trading in shipping, similar to the stock market.
With my current employer, Dome Chartering & Trading (DCT), I am director of freight trading. We recently built a new corporate headquarters in Eastport, where we act as commercial managers of foreign-flagged and U.S.-flagged vessels. We also work as consultants in freight portfolio management, including vessel operations and freight futures. DCT’s focus includes the dry bulk, tanker, and container market.
Tell us about the Annapolis Maritime Society.
Earlier this year I founded AMS, which started off as happy hour at Davis’s Pub with a few business friends. Now it has grown to a group of local maritime professionals that meet monthly at Fado’s Pub in Annapolis. Our purpose is to provide industry education and growth. I encourage anyone in the commercial maritime industry to join us. Our membership includes pilots, tugboat captains, customs brokers, agents, entrepreneurs, and others. We have three big events each year, a holiday party, summer family picnic, and the Annapolis St. Patrick’s Day parade. Learn more about AMS at Facebook and naptownmaritimesociety.com