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Author : Dennis Culnan

PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: LEHIGH HANSON

Lehigh Hanson, a core South Jersey Port Corporation tenant/partner, and aggressive ally in battling climate change, is working hard to reduce its environmental footprint and is committed to becoming carbon neutral.

“The climate is changing in ways that impact our planet and contribute to rising temperatures, rising seas, flooding, and droughts,” said Lusmerlin Lantigua, Plant Manager of the Lehigh Hanson slag grinding facility in Camden. “We all must strive to reduce our energy use, conserve water, and protect our natural resources. As a company, we are committed to achieving net zero emissions. ”

HeidelbergCement, the global parent company of Lehigh Hanson, is one of the world’s largest integrated manufacturers of building materials and solutions, with leading market positions in aggregates, cement, and ready-mixed concrete. As a forerunner on the path to carbon neutrality, HeidelbergCement crafts material solutions for the future.

As part of its commitment to be a worldwide leader, the company has increased its focus on sustainable products, driving the circular economy through an emphasis on recycling and recycled products and working to decarbonize the industry.

“Lehigh Hanson has been a good business partner in creating good paying jobs through its operations and importing and exporting millions of tons of product to support the region’s infrastructure needs and it is admirably, a leading ally in the port’s commitment to becoming, with great urgency, a better neighbor by operating cleaner and greener,” said Andy Saporito, CEO and Executive Director of SJPC. Saporito noted that SJPC is in the process of purchasing $6.6 million worth of electric cargo handling equipment and installing an electric charging station at its Balzano Marine Terminal.

Lehigh Hanson’s carbon-neutral strategy goes beyond reducing the carbon footprint of its plant. It also focuses on the cement, concrete, and other construction materials it produces. “Cement is the key ingredient in concrete, the most widely used building material in the world,” explained Lantigua, manager of the Lehigh Hanson plant located at SJPC’s Broadway Marine Terminal in Camden. “Our slag cement significantly lowers the environmental impact of concrete.”

Slag cement is 1.2 times stronger than Portland Cement and, more importantly, emits six to fifteen times less carbon into the air than regular Portland Cement. The slag is the waste from making steel and is repurposed to make stronger concrete to build dams, bridges, highways, airports, and buildings which in turn will reduce overall emissions at upwards of fifteen times.

The alchemy in the Lehigh Hanson strategy is converting a waste product to reduce carbon emissions, a win-win for the environment. With two slag cement plants in North America, they are the market leader for slag cement.

With a capacity for 600,000 tons annually, Lehigh Hanson’s highly efficient Camden plant at Broadway Marine Terminal is 90% automated and employs fourteen full-time employees, not including the stevedores, truck drivers, and other supporting workers. It imports steel slag from Japan and, by barge and truck, supplies its slag cement product for the construction industry throughout the mid-Atlantic, from Virginia to upstate New York.

CUSTOMER FOCUS: FAMILY-OWNED STEVEDORING COMPANY, TRI-STATE BULK HANDLING THRIVES AT SOUTH JERSEY PORT

Supply chain discussions are often dominated by global corporate giants, but the world’s supply chain depends on thousands of local small companies like Page Lyons’s Tri-State Bulk Handling to be the ball bearings that make the global trade machine run smoothly.

“America is built on small business and so is the world’s supply chain,” said Lyons whose family-owned-and-run stevedoring companies have moved tens of millions of tons of bulk cargo at the South Jersey Port Corporation’s marine terminals in Camden.

“Page is a fantastic partner who we, at the port, and his customers trust to get the job done,” said Andy Saporito, Executive Director and CEO of the South Jersey Port Corporation. “He is successful because he is customer-focused and handles cargo the way the customer wants: fast, safe, and efficient. And, by the way, he is a people person which is important in our industry where personal relationships are the coin of the realm.”

An affable man with a quick wit and an appetite for prudent risks, Lyons is a first-generation port man pro, born in the steel town of Weirton, West Virginia. Graduating in 1972 from Bethany College, a small Christian liberal arts college in his native state, he moved with his college sweetheart to Malvern, Pennsylvania, where they started a family. He spent the next nine years bouncing from job to job until his gig as the charming tennis pro at a local club landed him a job as manager of bulk sales and operations at Lavino Shipping Company.

A quick learner with a gnawing ambition to branch out on his own, three years later, Lyons took the biggest risk of his life. At age 37, he started his own stevedoring company, Tri-State Bulk Handling, and the clients he developed at Lavino followed him to South Jersey Port’s marine terminals in Camden, New Jersey, which is a national leader in bulk and breakbulk cargo. Nine years later, he would take another risk and create Broadway Conveyor Corporation to improve the efficiencies of his operations.

“It’s all about relationships in this industry and the trust you build,” said Lyons. “You maintain clients by delivering beyond what is expected and by developing trust with everyone who is moving that cargo, from truckers to machine operators, from the terminal management to the ship’s crew. There are robust discussions and strong opinions that are resolved by relationships. You help them to be successful, they help you be successful. It’s mutual success.”

A case in point is the contract that Lyons has today with Lehigh Hanson Cement to move 600,000 tons of bulk slag cement annually. From 1984 to 1999, Lyons handled iron ore, coal, pet coke, sand, and magnesite on lease parcels at SJPC’s port terminals in Camden. He always evolved with the changing times and changing market needs. In 1999, the South Jersey Port Corporation wanted to lease Lyons’ parcel to Saint Lawrence Cement (the predecessor of Lehigh Hanson). Lyons gave up his leases as part of the deal to land St. Lawrence Cement which included significant capital investments along the pier and a new crane and economic development in Camden. Saint Lawrence gave Tri-State a 10-year contract and it has been renewed by multiple owners since – a testament to the service his company provides.

To better serve his customers, he created the Broadway Conveyor Corporation and invested $5 million to a state-of-the-art conveyor system to move the granular materials efficiently. With the exception of a one-hour “hiccup,” the Lyons’ team has fed the cement manufacturing plant for 23 years without shutting it down. The final loading of the barges and trucks from the silos is completely automated through an underground system to prevent dust. Additionally, Lyons’ team at the Balzano Marine Terminal helps feed 100,000 tons of gypsum annually to the Georgia Pacific operations.

Lyons has a strong commitment to his operation’s host city, Camden. Most of his fourteen employees are city residents. He even invested in a local restaurant but equally important is his sensitivity to the impact of his operations on the community. “We are always working to be a good neighbor,” he said.

All of Tri-State’s bulk-moving equipment are powered by Tier 4 diesels, the Environmental Protection Agency’s strictest emissions requirement for off-highway diesel engines. “In time, we’ll move to an electric fleet to further reduce our carbon footprint” Lyons predicted.

SOUTH JERSEY PORT CORPORATION STRENGTHENS MANAGEMENT TEAM WITH NEW HIRES

(September 2022) The Board of Directors of the South Jersey Port Corporation (SJPC) strengthened its management team with the recent appointments of Lisa M. McLaughlin as Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer and Auguste E. (Gus) Knestaut as Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs.

“These are two excellent, highly-experienced and accomplished professionals who now have responsibility for some of the most critical aspects of the SJPC’s legal, regulatory and financial operations,” said Andy Saporito, the ports’ Executive Director and CEO. “They have the skills and, just as importantly, the personalities and work ethic that synchs well with the executive leadership team we have built over the past two years.”

McLaughlin is a Certified Public Accountant with an MBA from Georgian Court College who served as Chief Financial Officer for Monmouth County Ocean Hospital Service Corporation. She has decades of experience in budgeting, finance, auditing, and billing and collections.

McLaughlin lives in Seaside Heights, N.J., and graduated from Rowan University with a Bachelor of Science degree. She served on the adjunct faculty of and taught Federal Income Tax Accounting at Ocean County College.

Knestaut has decades of experience as a lawyer and manager, both in the private and public sectors. He has successfully navigated the complexities of governmental regulations at local, county, state, and federal levels.

Knestaut previously served as First Undersheriff to the Gloucester County Sheriff and Assistant Gloucester County Counsel. A graduate of Widener University Law School, he has been admitted to the bar in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the U.S. District Court, and the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. He served as solicitor or prosecutor for numerous municipal-level entities. Born in Woodbury, N.J., he grew up in Paulsboro and graduated from Paulsboro High School (Class of 1984). He and his wife, Angela and their two children (Cassandra and Matthew) live in West Deptford, N.J.

The South Jersey Port Corporation (SJPC) was created in 1968 to operate marine shipping terminals in the South Jersey Port District, consisting of seven counties: Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, Mercer, and Cape May. SJPC is a national leader in bulk and breakbulk cargo, shipping and receiving to and from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. SJPC’s four international seaport facilities in South Jersey handle more than four million tons of bulk, breakbulk, and containerized cargoes annually.

SOUTH JERSEY PORTS OPERATING CLEANER AND GREENER

The South Jersey Port Corporation (SJPC) has deployed its first all-electric terminal tractor, the vanguard of 27 cargo-handling “green machines” which are funded by a $6.6 million grant from Governor Phil Murphy’s Administration. It’s all part of the Governor’s $100 million initiative to grow the green economy by creating new jobs while battling climate change by turning to clean energy alternatives and making New Jersey fully powered by clean energy by 2050.

“As we work determinedly to safeguard New Jersey against the impacts of climate change, we must electrify not just light-duty vehicles, but the medium- and heavy-duty tractors and equipment upon which our thriving logistics industry depends,” said Governor Murphy. “There is no better place to continue our efforts than at the South Jersey Port Corporation, which is contributing to our state’s national reputation as an offshore wind hub. Here in South Jersey, we’re proving that transitioning to clean energy both complements and catalyzes the growth of new industries and the generation of good-paying jobs.”

“Creating family-sustaining jobs is one of our prime objectives,” said SJPC Executive Director & CEO Andrew Saporito. “But, as Governor Murphy warns us, there will be no jobs if we destroy our planet and communities in the process. Jobs are inextricably connected to how we protect our environment and shrink our carbon footprint to zero. We strive to be a better neighbor in the communities we serve by making our operations cleaner and greener while also building the green economy on initiatives such as offshore wind development.”

The governor is funding his “green machine” initiative by leveraging proceeds from the reentry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and money from the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund. In addition, New Jersey and private corporations are investing a billion dollars to build port facilities and infrastructure to make New Jersey the epicenter of the job-rich $100 Billion offshore wind energy industry.

“This is another important step in the Murphy Administration’s commitment to improve air quality in communities overburdened by air pollution and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles that fuel climate change across New Jersey,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette said.

With this $6.6 million investment, SJPC will replace twenty-seven pieces of older gasoline and diesel forklifts and cargo handling equipment with new electric-powered units and associated charging stations. SJPC aims to systematically convert all of its energy-consuming assets to zero-carbon within the next decade as suitable replacement equipment becomes commercially available.

From steps as simple as planting trees in its host cities to updating warehouse lighting to LED to investing millions in improving direct ship to rail access, SJPC has been working aggressively to reduce its carbon footprint. Instead of retrofitting its vehicles – it can afford to convert its fleet from carbon fuels to electric.

SJPC has become the cornerstone of New Jersey’s growing Green Energy Economy. Its unparalleled location combined with available land and warehouse space and an integrated network of highway, rail, and marine facilities provide the infrastructure to support offshore wind energy investments along the Atlantic Coast. It’s Paulsboro Marine Terminal (PMT) has already emerged as the prime manufacturing site for components of offshore wind turbines.

We’ve Moved

South Jersey Port Corporation moved their corporate headquarters to the Camden waterfront last week. We are occupying office space in the Ferry Terminal Building which is just a short drive from the Balzano Marine Terminal. The new office will allow SJPC to consolidate the executive, engineering, administrative, and accounting departments into one location allowing for better efficiency and meeting space for business development and administrative functions. The move will also result in creating additional space to meet future port operational and space needs. Our new address is 2 Aquarium Drive, Suite 100, Camden NJ 08103.

Customer Spotlight: Camden Yards Steel

“2021 was our best business year ever,” Michael J. Amato, president of Camden Yards Steel Company at the South Jersey Ports’ Broadway Terminal proclaimed proudly as he cast an optimistic but cautious eye toward 2022.

Sales volumes and imported tonnage of steel all hit record levels in 2021 for the family-owned-and-operated steel fabricator which, in turn, contributed in part to an overall record tonnage year for the South Jersey Ports. The company increased its steel imports by 20% to 200,000 tons last year.

Camden Yards Steel is an International Organization for Standards (ISO) certified prime flat rolled steel service company that specializes in the processing and distribution of full truckload quantities flat rolled steel. With over fifty years of experience in the steel industry, they service customers across the entire United States and parts of the Mid-Atlantic region.

“Camden Yards Steel has been a great long-term partner of ours and is an example of the type of family-owned business that is the backbone of our economy,” said Andy Saporito, Executive Director and CEO of South Jersey Port Corporation. “We congratulate them on their record-breaking year and look forward to continuing to support their growth and success.”

 “Our business has grown steadily since we opened in 2002 and we just invested another $10 million in our Camden facility to upgrade our equipment and sharpen our business in a very competitive sector that demands high quality and tight margins,” Amato added.

The investment has increased efficiency and productivity and propelled Camden Yards into a new business sector of galvanized steel for HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) manufacturers where other long-time suppliers, according to Amato, had grown complacent.

“We are very, very service oriented and very, very customer-oriented,” he boasted. “We showed we provide service and quality at a competitive price and as a result our galvanized steel business has grown consistently and dramatically, from 200 tons a month six years ago to 4,000 tons a month last year and it keeps growing from Maine to Florida to Ohio,” he said. “The leadership at South Jersey Ports helped us find laydown space to support our business growth, which was appreciated given the overall space constraints at ports nationwide.”

While optimistic about the future, the steel-eyed businessperson in Amato is cautious about predicting a consecutive record-breaking year in 2022.  While it would be nice, realistically businesses just do not keep having endless record-breaking years especially in a business hostage to variables in steel prices.

Camden Yards, with fifty full-time employees to support in Camden, was able to navigate the whipsaw impacts of COVID, steel tariffs, supply-chain shortage in 2021 in which steel prices rose to $1.00 a pound with pent up demand; and then, suddenly dropped to 30-cents a pound, sticking the company with high priced inventory to meet its commitments.

“Half of our business is contractual, and half is transactional,” he explained. “We are committed to our customers to deliver what we said we would deliver, when we said we deliver and at the price we agreed on.”

It just happens that the price for steel goes way, way too high and then suddenly goes way, way too low.

“We try to buy on the down but it’s like trying to catch a falling knife without getting cut,” Amato explained. Sometimes you catch the handle, sometimes you don’t. Whatever, the outcome, Amato protects his customers. “That’s how we earn the trust and business of our customers,” he said. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is expected to have a major impact on the world economy in 2022, especially on steel prices. “We don’t use Russian steel for our products, so we don’t anticipate any dramatic impact for our customers, but we’ll deal with whatever high and lows as we have in the past. It’s the nature of our business.”      

             

 

South Jersey Port Corporation Announces Appointment of Chris Perks to Director of Engineering Position

The South Jersey Port Corporation is pleased to announce the recent appointment of veteran engineer Chris Perks to the organization’s team. Perks was appointed as the Director of Engineering to support the agency’s growth strategy and continue to provide quality customer service for current and future tenants and customers. The appointment of Perks comes as the port closed on a record-breaking year for cargo handling and a flurry of capital projects, improvements, and milestones of the burgeoning offshore wind energy industry in South Jersey. Ensuring a strong leadership team has been a mission of Andrew Saporito, the agency’s Executive Director and CEO, who has assembled an experienced leadership team since first being appointed in 2019.

Perks has extensive experience in local public works engineering and construction markets and experience in project engineering related to design and construction of multi-disciplined large capital projects. He has previously and successfully participated in numerous capital improvement programs for a wide variety of clients, including many public and state agencies. In addition to his vast public experience, Perks was responsible for integrating and completing over sixty projects in Camden City, home to the port’s headquarters and Balzano and Broadway terminal facilities.

Perks will add value through his rich experience and prolific ability to direct all design, construction, and maintenance activities at the port. With a solid engineering skillset, Perks will be tasked with executing significant tenant improvements, capital projects, major operation works, and construction programs. Moreover, Perk’s expertise will allow the port to rely on his capabilities of capital program management, ensuring port facilities remain in good condition and meeting and exceeding expectations for efficient operations.

“SJPC has a long tradition of hard-working employees who go the extra mile for our customers. Ensuring our facilities are meeting standards and keeping up pace with our plans for growth is key to our continued success and customer satisfaction. Having Chris on the team is a critical part of our strategy and we welcome him,” said Andrew Saporito, Executive Director & CEO.

“My experience has taught me that capital program management is not just to keep the facilities in good condition, but more importantly to support excellence in operations. I am excited to get to work and be part of a top-notch team with the mission of expanding economic opportunity in the South Jersey region,” said Perks.

2021 Cargo Numbers Indicate Record-breaking Year for South Jersey Ports

The final numbers are in and the South Jersey Port Corporation closed out 2021 with an all-time record-breaking cargo volume of 4,636,097 tons, a 54% increase over 2020, breaking the previous record by 6%. 

“That’s the best in the history of the South Jersey Ports and we’re expecting 2022 to be a very strong year that may top 2021,” reported Andy Saporito, Executive Director and CEO of South Jersey Port Corporation at the monthly meeting of the Board of Directors.  “This milestone is a testament to the skilled workers and partners who keep goods moving through the supply chain while our team seeks solutions to improve efficiency, attract business and build for the future.  The ongoing collaboration with SJPC’s labor force and industry partners lifted the port to this extraordinary record during the challenging time of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Saporito.

The dramatic increases in tonnage came from nearly all the SJPC’s prime cargo sectors: steel, plywood, recycled metals, cocoa beans, cement, and gypsum. The lone laggard, sand exports, is expected to increase as the national infrastructure plan is implemented.  

Rebounding steel imports led the way with 2,399,076 tons, a 141% increase over 2020.  The majority of this increase occurred at the Paulsboro Marine Terminal which moved 1,760,018 tons of steel slabs.  Plywood import tonnage increased by 98% totaling 220,812 tons demonstrating the Camden terminals as a premiere plywood portal on the East Coast.  Cocoa beans totaled 76,108 tons, a 36% increase verses 2020 totals. Exports of recycled metals increased by 10% and cement increased by 8%. 

The number of ship days was 960 days compared to 549 ship days in 2020, a 75% increase. “Ship days is the number of days a ship is loading or unloading at its terminal” explained Kevin Duffy, Assistant Executive Director / Chief Operating Officer. “We’ve worked hard to ensure we continue to operate safely and efficiently to move the increased cargo and have space to meet our customers’ needs”.  

Brendan Dugan, Assistant Executive Director / Director of Business Development, expects the cargo activity at South Jersey Ports to remain strong for the foreseeable future due to the national infrastructure plan and New Jersey’s leadership role in the $109 billion offshore wind industry.  EEW Group, which is building a $300 million manufacturing plant at the Paulsboro Marine Terminal to provide the massive steel monopiles for the offshore wind farms along the entire eastern seaboard, will ultimately require 150,000 tons of imported steel annually to meet their customers’ demand.  To build on this momentum, SJPC is conducting a study of the Port of Salem, which is a smaller port just down river from Paulsboro that could become an important supply port for the local offshore wind support services industry.  

“The challenge is to build the infrastructure to grow the port while operating more efficiently to meet current demands,” said Dugan.  South Jersey Ports received a $6 million grant to upgrade the rail infrastructure at one of their Camden terminals and a $9 million grant for wharf infrastructure improvements at the Salem Terminal.  “We identified an old building that we might refurbish to put another 40,000 square feet of storage space online and meet long-term customer demands.” 

“We continue to focus on upgrading technology and automation to optimize the fluid movement of cargo through our terminals and to ensure our customers’ storage and inventory needs are met”, added COO Kevin Duffy.

The South Jersey Port Corporation was created in 1968 to operate marine shipping terminals in the South Jersey Port District, consisting of seven counties: Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, Mercer, and Cape May. The South Jersey Ports is a national leader in bulk and breakbulk cargo, shipping and receiving to and from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.  Their four international seaport facilities in South Jersey handle more than four million tons of bulk, breakbulk and containerized cargoes annually.

SJPC WINS $1 MILLION GRANT THANKS TO SENATOR MENENDEZ, SENATOR BOOKER & CONGRESSMAN NORCROSS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) and Congressman Donald Norcross (D-N.J.-01) today announced $1,010,800 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to support the operations at Balzano Marine Terminal at the Port of Camden. The South Jersey Port Corporation (SJPC), which operates the marine terminal, will use the funding to purchase two American-made, low emission reach stackers, which will help improve operations and throughput at the terminal.

“With billions of dollars of goods coming through New Jersey’s ports every year, we must invest in their infrastructure to secure our competitiveness and keep our state and national economies moving,” said Sen. Menendez. “This federal grant will ensure Balzano Marine Terminal can continue moving goods and products in and out of the facility everyday smoothly and efficiently. Throughout my career, I have always advocated for our ports and I will continue fighting to make sure they have the critical resources they need.”

“We know that investing in South Jersey’s port infrastructure is a proven way to spur economic development, bolster our region’s economy, and create jobs,” said Sen. Booker. “I stand committed to continue fighting alongside Senator Menendez and Congressman Norcross for the federal resources needed to maintain the Port of Camden’s strength and economic competitiveness.”

“The Balzano Marine Terminal is a critical link in our supply chain and handles cargo that feeds directly into the broader economy,” said Rep. Norcross. “Increasing the number of low-emission reach stackers at the terminal will grow its capacity to offload and move goods, ease bottlenecks, and contribute to the South Jersey economy.”
Balzano Marine Terminal offers one-stop service for breakbulk and bulk cargoes. The facility handles steel, project cargo, wood products, cocoa beans and other bulk cargoes on a regular basis.

“Senator Menendez, Senator Booker and Congressman Norcross have been forceful and effective advocates for our ports in southern New Jersey,” said SJPC CEO Andrew Saporito. “This grant will support our continued efforts to operate the Balzano Marine Terminal more efficiently and utilize the marine highway which reduces the number of trucks on our roadways and neighborhoods. This is even more critical as we are moving record cargo volumes.”

RAIL CONNECTIONS, EFFICIENTLY MOVING GOODS TO DESTINATIONS

South Jersey Ports offers on-demand commercial rail service to the Port of Salem with connections to both Class 1 Railroads – Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation. SMS Rail Lines provides the last mile to the port on the 19-mile branch owned by Salem County – which makes the Port of Salem competitive with many ports on the East Coast. Responsive rail service ensures that all the ports in Southern New Jersey serve as an integrated network offering importers and exporters necessary transportation options to move their goods. Freight rail continues to be the modal option to move breakbulk cargo off the port to consuming markets up and down the east coast as well as the mid-west.

In the past decade, $40 million has been invested to upgrade the Salem Rail Line. Cargo that has been handled on this line includes fertilizer products, fresh fruit and produce lumber, and aggregates that have come from both domestic and international points of origin. Rail service for industries in South Jersey and beyond offers better freight costs which strengthen companies’ bottom lines and supports growing jobs in the region. Having reliable rail service also gives companies a reason to look at Salem County as a potential location for their company.

In addition to operating the Port of Salem interconnection, SMS provides rail services to the Pureland Industrial Complex, a 3,000-acre industrial hub in Logan Township that is home to more than 120 companies, including Amazon, and has rail/truck intermodal capabilities to serve New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland markets.

The continuing upgrade of the regional rail lines is key to New Jersey’s plan to grow domestic economic development in the southern tip of the state and strengthen its leadership in the building and support of the $100 billion offshore wind energy industry. The $300 million Wind Port will be located seven miles south of the Port of Salem, providing the opportunity for a rail to barge service for the supply of offshore wind components.