Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 24

Lessons Learned
As ports pursue niches, Laberge suggests looking at natural advantages, but
also considering infrastructure. "Are the
powerlines, the rail lines, already there? Do
you have a good road connection? Location
plus infrastructure can provide answers as
to which niches to pursue."
O'Hollaren said developing a niche is a
balance of "being realistic and opportunistic. Every port is going to be mindful
of where they are in the world and what
trade lanes they are participating in and
compete in. For every port on the West
Coast, and especially here in the Pacific
Northwest, proximity to Asia is our primary
advantage. Clearly that's where our focus is.
We do, however, participate in the north/
south trades as well."
Routes can offer their own niche opportunities, either by growing in products typically imported/exported from those regions
or in the routes themselves. Heintzelman
notes that historically West Coast ports have
aligned with business in Asia; East Coast
ports have specialized in traffic to Europe
while Gulf ports have aligned with South
America. But ports can no longer simply
focus on routes, he said. "Safe to say, today
generally most of these ports support carriers across various global trades. There
are unique needs that certain ports can
supply through terminal container capacity
for instance, that can service the largest
container ships calling at U.S. ports today.

Ports such as Baltimore and Brunswick
(Ga.), for instance, provide comprehensive
land and vehicle processing capacity for the
exports/ imports of autos and machinery.
Their port expertise in the ro-ro segment
has evolved over time, through targeted
expansion with the right infrastructure considerations. Each niche or expertise has its
own respective dynamic variables at play."
By their very nature, niches are strategic
and small. And that means potential partners can be few. That is especially true for
Saguenay. "We have to identify our potential customers and also the potential logistics company," Laberge said. "We have to
be connected to them and make sure they
know our facility. They have to know that
we have a rail line. If one of the links doesn't
work, you don't have a chain."
Ultimately, though, developing a niche
can provide a competitive edge in today's
port business. But it also means letting customers and potential customers know that
the service is available. It means marketing strategically to the niche as well as the
broader port audience.
"Part of that requires taking a hard look
at yourself and identifying what you do best,
followed by what you may need to improve
on, and then lastly, your vision for the future,"
Heintzelman said. "Working together with
carriers in removing roadblocks, listening to
their end customers and working to develop
the additional services which anticipate the
future demand is important, as well. Port

authorities sharing their long-term vision
with their customers enables them to incorporate those plans into their strategic decision-making, which avoids surprises. This
enables a more robust collaboration. All of
these examples are good building blocks
toward mutual success."
Focusing too heavily in a niche may leave
the port vulnerable to conditions outside its
control, including global economic challenges, trade policy and the niche business itself.
"You look at any commodity whether it's
auto or steel or exporting logs," O'Hollaren
said. "They all fluctuate and have their
particular world economic conditions. You
accept that. What you need to be mindful
of is whether the long-term fundamentals
are sound. Certainly, the long-term fundamentals in auto are sound. There is a
strong import market and a developing
export market. You have to ride out those
peaks and valleys."
The Port of Portland has an advantage due
to its many decades of focus on auto trade.
But that does not mean it can rest on its laurels. "It's really capitalizing on your reputation and exploiting it," O'Hollaren said. "Like
any line of business, you need to focus on the
industry, know everything there is about it,
anticipate changes within the industry and
really dive deep into understanding, whether
it is autos, steel or wind energy. You have to
fully understand the changes and developments within the industry."  ●

Hugh Wood Inc.

Global Independent Insurance Brokers

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From a leader you trust

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24 AAPA
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017

AAPA Headquarters
From the President's Desk
Seizing LNG Supply Chain Opportunities
Find Your Niche
The Power of One, Collaboration by Many
Bringing the Outside In
Accelearating the Future
Power Shift: In the Energy Sector, Change Is the Only Constant
Strengthening U.S. Ports to Support Increasing Freight and Transportation
Port Partnerships for Strategic Positioning and Success
Index of Advertisers
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - Intro
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - bellyband1
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - bellyband2
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - cover1
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - cover2
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 3
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 4
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 5
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - AAPA Headquarters
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 7
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - From the President's Desk
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 9
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - Seizing LNG Supply Chain Opportunities
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 11
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 12
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 13
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 14
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 15
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 16
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 17
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 18
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - Find Your Niche
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 20
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 21
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 22
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 23
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 24
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 25
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - The Power of One, Collaboration by Many
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 27
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 28
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - Bringing the Outside In
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 30
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 31
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 32
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 33
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 34
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 35
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 36
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - Accelearating the Future
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 38
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 39
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 40
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 41
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 42
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 43
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 44
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - Power Shift: In the Energy Sector, Change Is the Only Constant
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 46
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 47
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 48
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 49
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - Strengthening U.S. Ports to Support Increasing Freight and Transportation
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 51
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - Port Partnerships for Strategic Positioning and Success
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 53
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 54
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 55
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 56
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 57
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - Index of Advertisers
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - cover3
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - cover4
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - divider1
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - divider2
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 66
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 67
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 68
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 69
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 70
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 71
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 72
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 73
Seaports Magazine - Fall 2017 - 74
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