Visit to Asia Focuses Attention on Portland

What do a dog, cheetah, camel and horse have in common? All were featured on the Port’s exhibit hall display at the Breakbulk China conference in March to represent the Port of Portland’s attributes of accessibility, agility, capacity and reliability. The display highlighted the Port’s unique selling propositions and stood out from hundreds of others predictably displaying pictures of ships and cranes.


Raising awareness and attracting interest to Portland were also the primary reasons behind sales calls that marine marketing staff conducted in Asia before and after the conference. Greg Borossay, senior manager trade and cargo development, and Steve Mickelson, marine business development manager, recently returned from a whirlwind itinerary that included Tokyo, Seoul, Tianjin, Beijing and Shanghai.


“Working closely with the Port’s overseas offices, our sales calls, meetings and marketing efforts are aimed at keeping Portland on the map and maximizing the use of our facilities,” said Mickelson. “We always look to make the most of our time as soon as our wheels touch down.”


In Tokyo and Seoul, they met with officials at “K” Line, NYK Line and the Port’s largest container carrier, Hanjin Shipping. They also visited with Hansol Paper Company and other shippers that export products to the U.S. whose cargo could be handled through Portland more competitively than other West Coast ports.


In China, Port of Tianjin officials introduced a U.S. exporter of dried distillers grain with solubles (DDGS) whose buyer is the owner of a duck farm that hatches half a million ducks per day. The DDGS is used as 15% of the feed, and it could be shipped through Portland. The Port of Tianjin also has an exchange program with the Port of Portland, and they expect to send a Port employee to Portland in the near future.


While in Beijing and Shanghai, they met with Schneider Truck Lines, which has a growing presence in China, as well as Gearbulk  and Siem Shipping. During their presentations and conversations, they focused on current opportunities at Terminal 2 as well as connections to upriver ports, which yielded interest and potential future visits to Portland.


At the Breakbulk China conference in Shanghai, the Port display helped attract over 400 attendees to talk with staff – some even had their pictures taken in front of the booth. Many at the show were cargo owners, with an emphasis on large project cargo. Since Portland is looking to attract large project cargo that could move via water to points in the U.S. and Canadian hinterland, and there were few ports in the exhibit hall, it proved to be a positive opportunity to reach the right audience.


When the Portland-based staff leaves Asia, they depend heavily upon their overseas offices in places like Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Agents like Zoey Zong in Shanghai and Jackie Xu in Tianjin are increasingly working directly with customers and representing the Port year round. They maintain a consistent and meaningful presence for the Port by providing continuity between visits.


“Between our collective efforts, we’re seeing positive results,” said Mickelson.

Zoey Zong, Steve Mickelson and Jackie Xu staffing the Port booth at the Breakbulk China conference in Shanghai.