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Good economic news: BendPak opens Alabama distribution center

Alabama State Port Authority and APM Terminals Mobile will help get products to customers quickly

APM Terminals Mobile is welcoming the opening of a nearby BendPak distribution center. (Photo: APM Terminals)

The opening of BendPak’s Alabama distribution center (DC) is good news in a time when there is very little good news.

“The economic outlook globally is stressed and uncertain. BendPak investing in Mobile shows economic confidence is out there and the public gets some good economic news,” said Jimmy Lyons, director emeritus of the Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA).

BendPak, which manufactures and sells automotive lifts used in car dealerships and parking garages, has opened a 100,000-square-foot distribution center in Theodore, Alabama, 11 miles from APM Terminals Mobile. The new administrative and shipping complex has access to three major interstates and five Class I railroads, helping BendPak achieve same-day or next-day deliveries to customers in the Eastern half of the country.

BendPak has opened a DC in Theodore, Alabama. (Photo: APM Terminals)

“This new distribution center will enhance our ability to get our customers what they need when they need it,” said Jeff Kritzer, Santa Paula, California-based BendPak’s executive vice president. “Today’s consumer expects immediate delivery and we’re focused on helping that become a reality.” 

Lyons said BendPak’s siting of its DC near the Port of Mobile validates the ASPA’s infrastructure investments as well as “leverages excellent, no-congestion inland transportation connectivity and acknowledges the harbor modernization underway that takes the port to a 50-foot draft by 2024.”

Deepening the harbor to 50 feet will allow the Port of Mobile to accommodate the largest vessels in the global fleet. Other projects underway include construction of the MTC Refrigerated Warehouse, slated to open in January to serve international supply chains with the most modern refrigerated technology and capacity for future growth of cold chains. Opening of the AutoMOBILE International Terminal also is on track for early 2021.

“Tremendous growth”

APM Terminals Mobile, working in partnership with the ASPA, opened in 2008. In December 2017, APM Terminals and the ASPA approved a $49.5 million expansion of the container facility at the Port of Mobile. The expansion included a 400-foot dock extension, super post-Panamax crane rails and upgrades to the fender system to accommodate ships with a capacity of 14,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). 

“The tremendous growth we have been experiencing here is the result of our strong partnership with the ASPA and Jimmy Lyons’ vision to grow the port as an economic engine,” said Brian Harold, managing director of APM Terminals Mobile.

APM Terminals Mobile handled 419,000 TEUs in 2019 and recently expanded the Inland Container Transfer Facility for rail cargo as well as completed enlargement of the berth to accommodate two or more ships at the same time. 

“We’re in the middle of the country, enabling companies to reach four major population centers in one day: the U.S. Gulf, the U.S. East Coast, the U.S. Midwest and Canada,” Harold said. “Supply chain flexibility, speed and lower costs create a more competitive edge. Supply chain leaders like our fast access to commercial U.S. centers via multiple landside logistics options — five Class I railroads, trucking and 15,000 miles of inland waterway connections.” 

Harold said BendPak looked at potential locations everywhere from Houston to Norfolk, Virginia, but settled on the Mobile site because of its proximity to the port and container terminal, the region’s skilled workforce and the ability to quickly get its products to customers in the fast-growing Southeast.

These factors also have helped APM Terminals Mobile weather the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our retail customers are doing very well and we expect further growth in other customer segments starting in July,” Harold said.

APM Terminals operates five container facilities in North America. In addition to Mobile, APM container terminals are located in Los Angeles, Miami, Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico. Part of A.P. Moller-Maersk, APM Terminals operates 78 terminals globally.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Kim Link-Wills.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.