Most people might curse a slow-moving train that blocks an intersection, but Greg Canfield isn’t most people.
Instead the state commerce secretary praised the traffic jam that prevented him from getting to a ribbon cutting for a new MTC Logistics facility at Mobile’s port. For Canfield the train signified increased activity at the port, something MTC would add to once the facility was fully operational.
“That train was just doing its job,” Canfield said. “It was serving a damn good purpose.”
Touting a logistics background, Canfield knew there were multiple points of access to the facility.
“It just became a matter of figuring out where the alternative access points were,” he said.
Canfield was joined by other state, county, city and corporate officials to celebrate the opening of MTC Logistics’ new refrigerated cargo facility at the port.
“It’s staggering in size and design,” Canfield said of the building that represents a $61 million investment and will bring 75 jobs to the area. “My hat is off to MTC Logistics.”
The opening of the facility is more than three years in the making and comes as global supply lines are struggling to keep up with demand as the world slowly comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those challenges, specifically targeted toward the logistics industry were not lost on many at the ribbon cutting ceremony, especially Harry Halpert, chairman of MTC Logistics and CEO of Hoffberger Holdings.
“Every day you read about problems in the supply chain,” he said. “Those are real problems for MTC Logistics and its employees. Sometimes a paycheck is not enough. Sometimes a ‘thank you’ is not enough.”
Halpert had those in attendance on the rain-soaked Wednesday afternoon stand and applaud the workers in the adjacent facility.
The pandemic-caused supply chain issues were heavily discussed during the event and many of the speakers believed MTC Logistics’ decision to expand in the city and the growth of Mobile’s Port — which is the fastest growing container port by percentage of lifts over the last five years — has positioned the area to take business from ports to the east and the west.
Rick Clark, deputy director and chief operating officer at the port, said the pandemic opened eyes to a lack of resilience in the supply chain.
“This provides supply chain solutions,” he said. “This adds resiliency for times when we have interruptions.”
MTC Logistics’ decision to expand in Mobile means more jobs and a large investment in the port, but it also provides an opportunity to bolster the area in other ways. APM Terminals Managing Director Brian Harold said the port had been losing refrigeration business over the past few years, but this move will help that trend stop.
“I’m confident we can get that back,” he said. “The uphill climb seems to be leveling off a bit and the future looks bright.”
Speakers praised the facility’s state of the art refrigeration systems and other innovative design elements that set it apart in the logistics field. Rick Shultz, co-chairman of Arco Design, a MTC Logistics partner on the facility, said a 50-foot tall mobile racking system can store 42,000, 2,000-pound pallets instead of the traditional 30,000 pallets.
“It’s an investment in the future of this facility and in Mobile,” he said.
The facility is also more efficient and flexible than others, Shultz said.
“MTC Logistics put the time and effort into doing everything right,” he said. “They wanted this facility to be successful, not for five years, not for 10 years, or 15 years; they wanted it to be successful for 30, 40 and 50 years.”
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and County Commission Chairwoman Merceria Ludgood both spoke of the importance of Team Mobile in helping MTC Logistics choose the city for its newest venture.
“Team Mobile existed before Sandy Stimpson became mayor and it probably existed before Merceria Ludgood became a commissioner,” Stimpson said. “Even as elected officials come and go, Team Mobile helps us realize that we play a role …. You realize that you have to do what’s right for the city.”
Ludgood talked about the jobs the company would bring to the area with this announcement.
“This reminds us that what happens in the business sector often affects real people,” Ludgood said. “In this case, those real people are the employees.”
Ludgood also commented on the company’s option to purchase 20 acres next to the facility, where officials are already planning the next expansion.
“We all look forward to growing together,” she said. “If you grow, we’ll grow with you.”
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