Maher Terminals general manager Mark Schepp was the guest of the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce at their monthly luncheon on May 25, and spoke to the successes Fairview Terminal has seen since it began operations in 2007.
“In 2007 we handled 16,792 TEUS and had about 47,000 man hours of work. In 2008 we handled 182,523 TEUs and had just over 200,000 man hours and in 2010 we handled 345,0266 TEUs and are close to 300,000 man hours of work,” he explained.
“When I came to Prince Rupert in 2006 the ILWU had 80 members. They went on a membership drive and now have about 300 members…I expect we’ll need to double the number of trades people in the coming years.”
Speaking to the future of Fairview, Schepp said the company is committed to helping pursue phase II because the future certainly looks bright.
“I anticipate, with the current volume and the projected growth, that we will hit 500,000 to 550,000 TEUs, and phase one has a capacity of 750,000 TEUs,” he said.
“Our cargo at Fairview Terminal is discretionary cargo, meaning it could go to any port on the coast. One issue we have always had is labour certainty, and now we have that with the eight year collective agreement with the workforce.”
“More and more of our service is going to eastern Canada, and we’re getting more traffic to the Greater Toronto Area. Soon we hope to also be servicing the Alberta markets as well.”
Schepp said there are a number of factors that have contributed to the success of Fairview Terminal, and most are related to the workforce that is in place.
“As we approach four years of operation, what sets Prince Rupert apart is the reliability and efficiency of the service we are able to offer. The reputation of Prince Rupert is what is really driving shippers here and creating the need for more capacity and service,” he said.
“When we did our first ship we had 15 container moves per hour, which by industry standards is not that good. Right now we are the leader on the west coast with about 30 moves per hour. For the last two ships we did 32 and 34 per hour…We also have a very low dwell time, which is something shippers are looking for. Here in Rupert one of the standards we have is to have 85 per cent of the cargo shipped off within 72 hours.”
However, Schepp did note some challenges going forward, most notably in finding the people to fill the numerous jobs in the future.
“One issue is where the people are going to come from. When you see the declining population, the changing demographic and young people not coming back to town after school, you are going to have a challenge,” he said.
“We are committed to hiring locally and working with the First Nations…Much of the growth in our workforce is going to be First Nations.”