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.

And?
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

2015 100 Best companies announced

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 0022cneditBY OB STAFF

The 100 Best list recognizes large, medium and small companies for excellence in work environment, management and communications, decision-making and trust, career development and learning, and benefits and compensation.


Read more...

10 Oregon companies positioning themselves for growth

The Latest
Friday, March 13, 2015
vcthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Ten startups have secured venture capital, angel or seed funding in 2015.


Read more...

5 ways successful people kickstart the day

The Latest
Thursday, April 02, 2015
coffeethumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Are mornings the most productive part of the day?  We ask five successful executives how they get off to a good start.


Read more...

10 Twitter highlights from #OR100Best

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
100bestBY OB STAFF

Oregon Business held its  22nd annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon celebration Thursday night in the Oregon Convention Center.


Read more...

6 development projects reshaping Bend

The Latest
Thursday, April 09, 2015
bendthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Bend has reclaimed its prerecession title as one of the fastest growing cities in the country.


Read more...

Oregon Business expands events portfolio

The Latest
Friday, March 27, 2015
htctfacebookBY OB STAFF

New events series brings magazine to life.


Read more...

Are wolves good for business?

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 06, 2015
030615-wolf-thumbBY JEFF DELKIN | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

As a local business owner, I believe it’s important to build our economy on a platform of conservation values.  


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS