Known globally as a powerhouse in the import-export food industry, Jerry Allison exemplifies the qualities of a Huskie: smart, driven, and innovative — representing Northern Illinois University with great pride. Allison attributes his beginnings in international business to a trip he took to Mexico while a NIU student — one he only did to fulfill a language requirement. “I discovered a whole new world outside Illinois which changed my entire perspective,” said Allison.
This small step outside Allison’s comfort zone sparked an interest in international business … and he never looked back.
After graduating in 1962 with a B.A. in Economics, Allison went to work in cargo sales at Sealand, a shipping company which revolutionized the industry by being the first company to pack goods in uniform shipping containers. This innovation allowed goods to be transported in a quicker, more seamless fashion from warehouse to truck to rail to overseas shipping, transforming the industry. It also offered significant savings for international trade operators. While Allison was at Sealand, the company shipped over 1,000 containers to Asia during the Vietnam War, valuing the business at over $450 million in revenue.
From Sealand, Allison went on to other companies before launching his own, AJC International — a logistics management company, located in Atlanta, Georgia — for frozen and refrigerated foods, specifically poultry, beef, pork, seafood, vegetables, and fruits. Under Allison’s leadership, AJC has grown from six offices in 2004 to fifteen offices in 2014. Today, the company has over 540 suppliers with origins in 39 countries, including the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Asia. It also has transactions in 139 countries. Allison grew the employee base over time to more than 300 diverse people — many of whom speak several languages and are well-versed in local customs and practices.
A short trip to Mexico while a student at NIU, sparked Allison’s interest in international business, changed his perspective and transformed his life. Other students have followed.