New sprawling port facility serves Alaska cargo, client

More than 100 people, including port commissioners, city councilmembers, and shipping industry executives, celebrated the grand opening yesterday of a...

More than 100 people, including port commissioners, city councilmembers, and shipping industry executives, celebrated the grand opening yesterday of a new 50,000-square-foot warehouse for Alaska-based Carlile Transportation Systems during a ribbon-cutting ceremony that underscored the important connection between the Port of Tacoma and Alaska trade.

“This is a new era for us,” said Linda Leary, Carlile vice president of sales and marketing. “This new state-of-the-art, multi-modal facility allows Carlile to better serve its Alaska client base and expand into the busy Pacific Northwest market.”

The new 16-acre terminal is located on the Port of Tacoma tideflats. In addition to the massive warehouse (which features an 80-door cross-dock that allows trucks to deliver freight on one side and load cargo on the other), the new terminal also includes 14,000 square feet of office space, and access to a rail spur and the Hylebos Waterway.

For the city and port, the new terminal represents a victory of sorts in a competitive South Sound business environment. Construction on the terminal began last May, and Carlile moved its operations from Federal Way to the new and larger terminal in December.

“It’s nice to see a new facility like this opening up,” said Port Commissioner Dick Marzano. According to Marzano, the move brought 110 jobs from Federal Way to Tacoma. “As Carlile continues to grow, the port will grow with them.”

“Moving the terminal to the port made sense because so much of our business from the Pacific Northwest destined for Alaska funnels through Tacoma,” added Carlile’s Leary. “The new location gives us rail, ship, and truck access from one location. We also have the option to expand internationally from the Port of Tacoma.”

Tacoma City Councilmember Spiro Manthou stressed the importance of Tacoma’s economic connection to Alaska.

“We need to understand Alaska is a critical trading partner and an important part of the Pacific Rim picture,” said Councilmember Spiro Manthou, who traveled to Alaska last fall with Carlile representatives to tour the state and learn more about the economic connection between the Port of Tacoma and Alaska.

Manthou highlighted port statistics that show domestic trade with Alaska accounts for 30 percent of the port’s total trade volume; more than $3.5 billion in trade with ties to Alaska moved through the port in 2004; and Alaska is the port’s third largest trading partner.

The new terminal has a series of distinguishing security and communications features.

Activity at the terminal is monitored by a digital security network of 80 cameras. And physical access to the terminal is limited by computer-controlled doors and gates fitted with proximity card sensors.

Thirty-two miles of ethernet and fiber optic cable in the office, warehouse, and yard connect over 50 workstations and servers to the corporate network which spans western North America, from Houston, Texas to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Wireless networking throughout the terminal, combined with wireless handheld computers and printers, enables a new generation of logistics applications.

Carlile was founded in 1980 by brothers John and Harry McDonald. It is one of Alaska’s largest trucking companies with more than 200 company-owned trucks that serve Alaska from wholly-owned terminals in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kenai, Kodiak, Prudhoe Bay, Seward. The company also has terminals in Seattle, Houston, and Edmonton, Alberta.

David Graybill, president of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, was pleased with the new terminal. He said the chamber has relied on Carlile’s long history in for knowledge on transportation and business connections in the state.

“We’re privileged to have an Alaska-based company in our community,” said Graybill.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Related Stories