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Port of Cleveland sees increased demand for global shipping services extending into spring

Port of Cleveland
Posted at 5:39 PM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 18:49:11-05

CLEVELAND — Dar-Tech is a Northeast Ohio based supplier of raw materials to the paint and plastics industry, traditionally bringing their goods in through ports like New York. Now due to a backlog of shipments sitting at ports, it's considering alternatives like Cleveland.

"We've got stuff sitting on the water we don't even know where it's at," said Dar-Tech Vice President Pete Marek. " We have containers in the port of New York, we don't know where they're at, they're stacked somewhere."

Like businesses around the world, their ability to operate has been slowed by the backlog at the ports, shipments that once took four or five weeks, he said, are now taking 12 to 18. Dar-Tech though has an option many other businesses around the country do not; a port in their home town. One that they admit they previously stayed away from for cost, but as we all know right now time is money.

"In normal times, the Port of Cleveland was more expensive," Marek said. "Today with time, cost of money and time, yes it's much cheaper to do it this way right now. It's quicker and cheaper now to bring it in through the Port of Cleveland."

Marek says the folks at the Port of Cleveland guided them seamlessly through the process working with their suppliers and he is not the only one. As the Port's gone from two cargo ships a month to three and they are fuller.

"The last container vessel had 230 import containers on it and almost a hundred containers going back out," said Dave Gutheil, Port of Cleveland's chief commercial officer. "Which is fairly large increase from what we had been seeing previously."

The only problem is the new demand comes as the Great Lakes Shipping season gets set to shut down for the winter right before Christmas, but the Port of Cleveland is already getting inquiries about shipping in the spring.

"I've had multiple calls within the last week and a half of customers that really want to use the service starting next year," Gutheil said. "They're making plans to change some of their routings. We've heard from other entities who are considering moving vessels into the Great Lakes as well."

Gutheil said they are in constant communication with Spliethoff, the largest ship owner in the Netherlands which operates the service between Cleveland and Europe. "They eventually like to add another vessel to the service if the volume is what they anticipate it being which means we would go from initially seven, eight years ago one call a month to basically a weekly service and that's been the goal all along."

That would give companies like Marek's more options. He's also gotten something else out of this new arrangement, a greater sense of civic pride.

"It makes us feel good, we're a Cleveland company, we've been in Cleveland for 70 some years, it feels nice to finally bring stuff into the Port of Cleveland."