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Ship Shape: Ports Navigate Their Niches to Find Their Areas of Expertise

When it comes to handling a certain type of cargo, some ports immediately spring to mind as industry leaders. It may be the luck of location, years of honing expertise or a willingness to support shippers as they expand.

By Sandy Smith— 

When it comes to handling a certain type of cargo, some ports immediately spring to mind as industry leaders. It may be the luck of location, years of honing expertise or a willingness to support shippers as they expand. There’s no one formula for making the move from a niche to an outright specialty.

But a few factors run throughout any expansion: a willingness to stretch beyond comfort and become an expert in businesses other than ports. “If you approach your port business just focused on what’s inside the gate, you’ll not be successful,” said Blair Garcia, PPM®, vice president and U.S. director of Maritime Practice for WSP USA. “Because ports are nodes along the logistics supply chain, it’s absolutely vital that ports have strong relationships with the logistics components that they can’t control, whether it’s trucking companies, ocean carriers, railroads, other vendors and service providers.”

The same holds true for vendors like WSP (formerly WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff). “For us to be successful, we have to have a relationship with our port clients to successfully serve their needs,” Garcia said. “That relationship and them knowing and being able to trust our ability to deliver is important.”

In many ways, the stories that successful ports tell are similar.

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