“A rising tide lifts all boats”

“Run to daylight” has been our theme. We sounded like a broken record. We knew all along that the industry bright lights saw things exactly the way we did, but we also knew that for a number of reasons their hands were tied. Either they lacked the clout to take action or they just didn’t know how to make the drastic moves we were suggesting.

Ronald D. White of the LA TIMES put out a very interesting column on the 22nd of December, and it would appear that what we’ve been preaching seems to be coming about. He began his report this way:

“A rising tide lifts all ports: The continuing global trade boom, which has produced record cargo traffic this year in Los Angeles and Long Beach, has spread to smaller harbors across California.

“This upturn in business stretches from San Diego, which has seen freight volume rise 28% in the last fiscal year; to Port Hueneme in Ventura County, which has prospered by specializing in fresh fruit, new autos and other profitable niche categories; and to San Francisco and Sacramento, which have reorganized their port operations to accommodate changing customer demands.

“For many of the ports, the key has been to present themselves as alternatives to Los Angeles and Long Beach, the bulk of whose business is in moving the massive cargo containers that carry tools, toys, electronics and all manners of small goods across the Pacific.

“‘It’s been another banner year for us ,’ said Port Hueneme Harbor Commissioner Ray Fosse, whose facility moved 1.3 million metric tons of goods during the fiscal year that ended in June, or 9% more than the previous record volume in fiscal 2005. This year, it is again on a record pace.

“‘With the major ports going with containers as much as they can, customers are looking for a place where they won’t get chased out and where they become very big fish in a much smaller pond,’ Fosse said. ‘And with the expanding economy there is just more and more demand out there for port access.’…”

“Oakland is running more than 6% ahead of 2005s record of 2.3 million containers and is set to become the third-largest transcontinental gateway for goods moving throughout the U.S., behind Los Angeles-Long Beach and Tacoma-Seattle … and what Los Angeles and Long Beach have done in terms of spreading business to neighboring ports, Oakland is also doing …”

So far so good, but let’s not give credit where it isn’t due. The decisions to divert ships are not being made by those who are obliged to do so. These diversions are being ordained by those who have the responsibility to deliver goods to consumers in a timely manner. There’s a big difference. Faced with competition, agents and brokers make these shifts in order to provide reliable service to their customers. Competition gets the job done, and when smaller ports are eventually equipped to handle containers in order to compete with the “king-ports”, things will finally be set aright.