Mazda No. one million crosses Port of Tacoma docks

The one millionth Mazda vehicle to be imported to the United States through the Port of Tacoma – a Velocity Red 2004 Mazda RX-8 still covered in protective wrap – recently rolled off an auto transport ship at the port’s Blair Terminal.

“Everyone at Mazda is proud of our long-standing relationship with Auto Warehousing Company and the Port of Tacoma,” said Jim O’Sullivan, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations. “Today, over 28,000 Americans – designers, assembly workers, dealership employees, port operators and sales and marketing personnel – work together to bring quality Mazda cars and trucks to American consumers.”

Tacoma-based Auto Ware-housing Company (AWC), of the largest auto processing companies in the United States, handles about 3.2 million vehicles each year – about one-fifth of vehicles sold in the United States.
“This vehicle represents a milestone in a continuing partnership,” said Port of Tacoma Commissioner Dick Marzano. “Mazda has its choice of business partners, and they have made a commitment to Tacoma. And the Port – with our facilities and our labor partners – has made a commitment to Mazda and the auto industry to ensure their long-term success. We have the ability and willingness to grow and meet the needs of these important customers.”

Robert DeWald, the port’s senior director of industrial development and real estate, added, “Twenty-five years and one million cars can only be accomplished with good people, particularly Dan Merryfield, manager of Mazda’s port operations in Tacoma and Ron Hitter, director of port operations and logistics.”

The landmark vehicle was promptly transferred to the port’s new $40 million Marshall Avenue Auto Facility, where the vehicles of Port customers Isuzu, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Suzuki are processed.

In 2002, the vehicles of these manufacturers accounted for a port record 180,000 autos. At 146-plus acres and built to be among the most efficient in the nation, DeWald says the auto facility is capable of storing and processing more than 19,000 vehicles at a time.

The facility, which includes buildings for offices, washing and vehicle maintenance, is designed for quick, efficient transfer of autos from ship to processing, and to truck or rail, explained DeWald.

Mazda has been importing vehicles through Port of Tacoma facilities for the past two and a half decades. “We congratulate Mazda USA on this landmark occasion and we look forward to the day that Mazda number two million to crosses our docks,” DeWald concluded.