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Port enters lease agreement with FMT over Lake Charles Stevedores

Last Modified: Monday, December 17, 2012 8:42 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

Canada-based Federal Marine Terminals has entered into a four-year lease agreement with the Port of Lake Charles to operate the automated facility that used to be run by the Lake Charles Stevedores.

The port staff recommended the company, which has a U.S. base in North Carolina, be awarded the contract at its regular board meeting Monday. The board passed the recommendation unanimously.

The port selected Federal Marine Terminals, or FMT, as its contractor to handle commercial and USDA agricultural produced products and related commodities.

“The FMT proposal reflects the guaranteed tonnage and corresponding minimum guarantee payment to the port that is reasonable and in line with staff and independent market specialist studies of today’s market price,” Executive Director Bill Rase said at the meeting.

FMT is the marine terminal and stevedoring division of the Fednav Group. Fednav Limited is a shipping company with a fleet of more than 80 ships. It has offices on all continents, Rase said.

“FMT executive officers have many years of experience and oversee operations in 12 ports in the United States and Canada,” Rase said. “FMT brings a very substantial and active environmental, safety and mechanical analysis program to its facilities which are fully staffed, overseen and coordinated by senior directors.”

FMT has been operating Gear Bulk at the port for the past 13 months, “demonstrating consistent performance at a high level,” Rase said.

Specific to Lake Charles, FMT will provide an office staff, a company general manager, company superintendents and equipment.

“FMT has agreed to commit a dedicated person for the commercial and USDA bag business which is vital to the port,” Rase said. “FMT intends to draw the labor needed form the local (International Longshoremen’s Association) workforce providing continuity in port activities. The port is committed to our customers and stake holders to provide the services needed as has been done in the past in the coming years.”

The port staff decided it was in the port’s best interest to request proposals from other companies.

“This is the first time this particular agreement has been out for negotiation,” Rase said.

Rase said 12 companies picked up the packet. Five made offers and the Port narrowed it down to two — FMT and Texas-based Lake Charles Stevedores, which is owned by Tom Flanagan.

The port created a committee — made up of port staff and commissioners — to interview applicants.

“We had certain factors that we wanted met,” Rase said. “We did not want to damage any current bag business we currently had.”

Rase said money was not the driving factor in the decision.

“There were many other factors,” he said, such as corporate structure, local supervision and staff members who would be located in Lake Charles.

Michel Tosini, executive vice president at FMT, attended Monday’s meeting and thanked the board for the confidence they have in FMT.

“Everything we have put in the proposal, you have my word, you have FMT’s word ... that we will live up to our promises and the commitment we have made,” Tosini said at the meeting. “Our commitment is true; it’s honest and we will prove that you made the right choice.”

Flanagan and representaives did not speak at the meeting but did provide a prepared statement upon request by the American Press.

“Lake Charles Stevedores have been apart of the local community for 90-plus years. During the past five years we have worked to make sure the port achieved and maintained the No. 1 status for USDA cargo in the United States despite the highly competitive economy and market situation,” Phillip Rogers, general manager for Lake Charles Stevedores, said in a prepared statement.

“The vast majority of companies using the port has written expressing their strong support for the Lake Charles Stevedores continuance in the Port of Lake Charles. We have a very close customer relationship built over the years and look forward to continuing them. Our focus has been to contribute to the port in a partnership and to the local community — that will not change. We intend to develop new cargo interests and continue to provide the best customer service possible. Our business is fine and healthy. We are here to stay.”

Rogers declined to reply to further questions posed by the American Press.

Rase said the Lake Charles Stevedores are involved in other commercial work at the port which they may continue to do.

In other business, the port board approved the operating and capital budget for 2013.

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