Port's cargo handling hauls in award in Belgium

Duluth Cargo Connect officials called from Antwerp on Tuesday with news that its bundled water, rail and roadway services won a major international award.

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Kevin Beardsley, (from left) chief financial officer of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Rick Revoir, president of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority Board of Commissioners, Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Jonathan Lamb, president of Duluth Cargo Connect/Lake Superior Warehousing, Pete Kramer, general manager, Duluth Cargo Connect/Lake Superior Warehousing. (Photo courtesy of Duluth Seaway Port Authority)

The port of Duluth hauled in worldwide acclaim on Tuesday.

Duluth Cargo Connect was selected 2019 Worldwide Port/Terminal Operator of the Year, in Antwerp, Belgium, by the publication "Heavy Lift and Project Forwarding International."

Duluth Cargo Connect beat out other finalist ports in places such as Denmark and Corpus Christi, Texas.

Jonathan Lamb and Deb DeLuca, leaders of their respective halves of Duluth Cargo Connect, and others from Duluth were scheduled to be in Belgium throughout the week, visiting existing clients and drumming up further business.

“We’re honored to accept this award and we appreciate the recognition for our terminal,” Lamb, president of Duluth Cargo Connect, said. “It’s a big world of ports and operators, so being selected at the head of that class for 2019 is something special.”


In a conference call with the News Tribune following the awards ceremony, DeLuca said she was "immensely proud of what we've been able to accomplish in the middle of the North American continent at the farthest western terminus of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System."

An international panel of industry experts selected the award winners in different categories. The publication established the Heavy Lift Awards to recognize excellence in complex logistics, transport and engineering projects around the world.

Judges based their selections on the following criteria: Demonstrated safe and efficient handling of oversize cargo; investment in new equipment and facilities for the storing and handling of oversize cargoes; maintenance of existing facilities; and minimized wait time for customers.

Duluth Cargo Connect is a combined entity marketed globally and offering the bundled services of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and Lake Superior Warehousing. Lamb and DeLuca, executive director of the Port Authority, both called the award "a testament to the workforce."

"How much they care about what they do and taking care of the customer, just their dedication to the day to day," Lamb said. "They take immense pride in the operation."

Nearly 50 employees power the terminal operations for the Clure Public Marine Terminal and the CN Duluth Intermodal Terminal, through which travels wood pulp, finished paper rolls, OSB boards, steel products, intermodal containers on rail, and more. For instance, it's been a banner year for wind energy components at Docks C and D adjacent to the Clure terminal on Rice's Point.

Since 2016, the port has seen $25 million in capital enhancements at the Clure and intermodal terminals, DeLuca said, citing "important support at the city, county, state and federal government levels."

Efforts included rehabilitating a historic 28-acre dock, creating two new Seaway-depth ship berths, a roll-on/roll-off dock, and adding on-dock rail, constructing a new road through the original terminal to enhance traffic flow efficiency, adding a scale and trucker’s lounge, and expanding and enhancing the CN Duluth Intermodal Terminal with added rail and paved storage area. The transformation of the 28-acre blighted dock into a fully functioning multimodal transportation hub was a finalist for the Minnesota Brownfields 2018 ReScape Award in the Economic Impact category.


"Building and sustaining a great multimodal logistics terminal is a team effort," DeLuca said.

Lamb summed it up by saying, "For Duluth, Minnesota, this is a pretty big honor, because Duluth may not come to the forefront of the mind for global shipping. So to win is a big deal."

Bill Parsons, operating engineer, uses a reach stacker to lower a shipping container onto a train car at Duluth's intermodal container terminal. (2018 file / News Tribune)

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