Merchants Exchange of Portland Teaches Business of Shipping

A confession—I actually didn’t know what a Stevedore was until last month.*

That’s when I attended Shipping 101, presented by nonprofit Merchants Exchange of Portland. The one-day seminar presented a unique opportunity to learn the basics of shipping and introduced the players who facilitate maritime trade in the Pacific Northwest.  It covered everything from Columbia River history, key shipping terms and even the documents required to send something from point A to point B.

As a current college student studying supply chains and international trade, a class led by shipping industry professionals was fascinating, but you didn’t have to be a newcomer like me to learn something new.  All who attended the event brought their unique perspectives that added context and depth to the material.

The array of transportation and shipping professionals in attendance, 62 in fact, was impressive: from port employees and shipping agents, to Columbia River pilots and stevedores. To my right were supervisors from terminal operator, Ports of America; and to my left, Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association Kristin Meira. For me, Shipping 101 was a chance to witness how different professions in the industry relate to each other, and presented a great networking opportunity.

Merchants Exchange staff said they intend to make Shipping 101 an annual event and plan a shipping 201 class in the fall. No word if a final exam will be required at the end to graduate. We’ll let you know on Port Dispatch when we hear about future classes.

*A person employed or company contracted to load or unload a ship.


Andy Smith is a public affairs Intern at the Port of Portland and a junior at Portland State University studying Supply and Logistics Management and minoring in Spanish. He intends on studying abroad in 2017. Additionally, he hopes to one day work in the field of international trade with Latin America and other global markets.