Port enters lease agreement with FMT over Lake Charles Stevedores

By 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.