Representatives working to make port more visible internationally
As part of its ongoing effort to reinvent itself, the Port of Montreal is now more visible internationally. It recently added a Hong Kong-based representative in Asia to its representation in the United States and Europe.
“As part of our business development strategy, we are in the process of completing our Growth and Development team,” said Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority. “We have representatives in the U.S., Europe and now Asia, and we are looking to add someone in South America.
“This representation allows us to have a constant presence in the markets where we are situated, and it provides us with the opportunity to attract new clients in both current and emerging markets. Moreover, it clearly demonstrates our desire to help our own clients increase their business and support them in their growth efforts.”
“We have hired representatives to develop specific commercial markets,” said Tony Boemi, Vice-President of Growth and Development for the Montreal Port Authority. “When we say we are reinventing ourselves, we want to be seen as a truly global port serving global markets. We want to promote our advantages, including our strategic geographic location in North America, our access to huge consumer markets, and our intermodal platform that is second to none.”
The port’s representative in the U.S. is Detroit-based Donald Finnerty, of Night Global Solutions. Mr. Finnerty has 25 years of experience in international transportation. Most notably, he has held senior positions with CP Ships and Canada Maritime. He was also president of Aseco Container Services.
In Europe, Giulio Schenone and James Wannell, of the Genoa-based Medov shipping agency, represent the Port of Montreal. Their mandate is to develop the European market not only for cargo but also within the cruise industry.
In Hong Kong, Jeremy Masters has been appointed the Port of Montreal’s representative in Asia. Mr. Masters was president of Canada Maritime and worked for CP Ships prior to founding Shipping Masters (HK) Limited seven years ago. He lived in Montreal for 14 years and is extremely well acquainted with the port. He will be working to develop markets in Southeast Asia and India.
“These markets are opportunities for the Port of Montreal if you look at where we’re located geographically and if you factor in transshipment centres in the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal,” Mr. Boemi said. “We want to be able to develop these markets.”
“In Asia, there is the basic issue that from the large ports of the continent there is competition offering both landbridge services via the West Coast of North America and all-water services, going east or west, to the U.S. East Coast,” Mr. Masters said. “Montreal is not generally considered an option, even though transshipment services over the Mediterranean or North Europe to Montreal and its hinterland can offer very competitive transit times and costs from many parts of Asia.”
Mr. Masters will use his knowledge of and contacts in Asia to promote the Port of Montreal, which he says has two distinct advantages. “Its proximity to a hinterland in Canada and the U.S. Midwest and Northeast gives it both service and cost advantages over its competition,” he said. “And as a gateway, its integration of handling and inland infrastructure – road and rail – is generally better than that of its competition. Also, historically there has been an unusually high degree of cooperation among the stakeholders who make the gateway work.”
Mr. Masters said having the right product at the right price is always going to be critical. “But it’s very important that your clients know what you have to offer and have the feeling that they will get the service and support they want,” he said. “The Port of Montreal has had comparatively little exposure to carrier and end-user decision-makers in Asia, so there is a great opportunity to get Montreal on the radar with more clients and ultimately increase the amount of Asian origin/destined cargo that goes over Montreal.”
Mr. Finnerty says the Port of Montreal is one of the most “efficient, competitive, flexible and stable environments on the East Coast of North America.”
“Its strategic location is a natural fit for the U.S. Northeast and Midwest and Eastern Canadian markets,” he said. “Container traffic can reach 40 million consumers by truck within one day and another 70 million consumers by rail within 37 hours of vessel discharge. Two railroads service the port on a daily basis, so speed is certainly an advantage. Cargo availability is exceptional due to the fact that all vessels into and out of the Port of Montreal are completely discharged upon arrival.”
In Europe, the extent to which Montreal reaches deep into the U.S. Midwest and the key role of the port and its railway partners “as a critical vector” are often misunderstood or undervalued, Mr. Wannell said.
Added Mr. Schenone: “European shippers and receivers tend to consider Montreal as a gateway for the Canadian market only and do not fully realize its inland connections to the U.S. Midwest.”
“We remind people of the fact that Montreal lies 1,600 kilometres inland, giving it better proximity to key population and industrial centres, including those of the U.S. Midwest and Northeast, and a significant door-to-door time advantage that is tangibly counted in days and inventory cost compared to U.S. East Coast ports,” Mr. Wannell said. “We also speak about fluidity of operations at and beyond Montreal’s berths.”
Mr. Schenone said his team at Medov provides timely market intelligence information to the Montreal Port Authority and its customers and ensures that the Port of Montreal maintains a consistently high visibility with current and potential customers including container carriers and cruise lines.
“We want to heighten awareness, educate prospective clients and listen to their requirements, and build bridges with local Montreal stakeholders, all through our existing portfolio of trade contacts in Europe,” Mr. Wannell said. “We can leverage our individual and longstanding relationships with key players in the liner trades within Europe to mutual benefit.
“Proposing cost-effective solutions is crucial at this time for shipowners who are only now rebuilding a return to profitability in a sluggish world trade environment and who are facing fuel challenges, overcapacity issues and impaired balance sheets.”
Although the port does not yet have representation in South America, it does handle cargo from that region through transshipments in the Caribbean. This cargo is destined for the Canadian market. “Approximately 7 per cent of the port’s cargo is from South America,” Mr. Boemi said. “We also receive some cargo connecting in the Caribbean through the Panama Canal.”
The Port of Montreal representatives fly the port flag in one-on-one meetings and group presentations and at receptions and trade functions, and then follow up with key players and contacts to build and maintain dialogue and address questions and concerns.
They also work to correct some misconceptions about the port. “Some people still do not realize the Port of Montreal is a 365-day-a-year operation,” Mr. Finnerty said.
PORT OF MONTREAL REPRESENTATIVES
Medov Shipping Agency
Director, Marketing and Development
Director, Growth and Development, USA
Director, Growth and Development, Asia
Telephone: 852 2824 8846
Mobile: 852 6692 2798