Sponsored by Oregon Business

Shipping: East meets East in Umatilla

| Print |  Email
Archives - May 2006
Monday, May 01, 2006

PORT OF UMATILLA — When longtime business professor Kim Puzey arrived to run the Port of Umatilla 12 years ago, it was in deep debt with a loading crane built in 1940. Puzey has since helped erase the debt and snag $3.8 million in federal funds for a new crane to offload shipping containers. Now, he’s ready to make Umatilla an international trade hub. Don’t snicker. His port may be nearly 300 miles up the Columbia, but he’s forging some strong ties with Chinese companies looking to bypass the crowded ports of Long Beach and Seattle-Tacoma.

Kim Puzey, Port of Umatilla

Photo courtesy of the Port of Umatilla

Oregon Business: Why were you in China last year?

Kim Puzey: There are 1.3 billion people in China and I’ve got this crane at a dinky little port in Eastern Oregon. I was sure I could get connected with someone out of those 1.3 billion.

We met with folks at Yichang, the Yangtse River port that is most like Umatilla. We’re drafting an agreement to share assistance and information. Since the trip, we had a visitor in Windy Pang, general manager of the Chongqing Kingstar Science & Technology Co. Ltd. (an import-export outfit). She’s interested in building a distribution center at the Port of Umatilla for export products — all-terrain vehicles, motorcycle parts, generators. If we get a distribution center, we’ll get retailers and wholesalers interested and everybody is going to be jumping up and down.

How would you fill the containers back up for export?
I’m really close to signing a deal to export logs, scrap metal and hides. It’s so close the walls are bulging around here. I also know there are french fries being trucked from Eastern Washington into Puget Sound.

Why wouldn’t shippers just continue using rail and truck freight?
We are not that much slower than the train and you need a lot of real estate to park a train. We are $100 less per load than a truck, plus there’s an environmental advantage with just one engine per 600 containers versus the one engine per load with a truck.

This comes just a few years after the Port of Portland lost 40% of its container service.
We might just turn this thing around.It’s been painful year and half. Ship-ping companies can do more trips and make more money by bringing high-value goods from Asia and head back empty from Long Beach and the Puget Sound. So they haven’t had to take on our agriculture exports. When I’m out talking to people in China, I’m marketing Portland 50% of the time. All our imports and exports would come by ship to Portland, then offload by barge tow to come up here.

— Oakley Brooks
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


More Articles

Reader Input: School Choice

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Which of the following would be most effective in reducing the cost of operating a public university in Oregon?


The God complex

Linda Baker
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
093015-zydellren-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR

The media coverage about Pope Francis must have put me in a Biblical frame of mind. Because after touring the latest phase of the South Waterfront development, a mind boggling 1.5 million square feet of office and retail space that will spring up north of the aerial tram over the next few years, I couldn’t stop thinking about the massive project as a modern day creation story.


Storyteller in Chief: Brew Stories

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Over the years, many mentors have taught me lessons that have helped shape the way I view the world of work and our business.


Inside the Box

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Screening for “culture fit” has become an essential part of the hiring process. But do like-minded employees actually build strong companies — or merely breed consensus culture?


Getting What You Pay For

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A conversation with Chris Maples, president of the Oregon Institute of Technology.



September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Ben Kaiser holds his ground.


Salad Days

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

How Portland's Garden Bar plans to become the Starbucks of salad.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02