The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on nearly every sector of the U.S. economy. The transportation and logistics industry has not been spared from those ill effects, but some segments have proved more resilient than others.
The Port of Savannah has seen a mere 1% volume drop year-over-year and managed to break a tonnage record during the past fiscal year, according to the Georgia Port Authority (GPA). The busy port did take a volume hit during the height of the pandemic’s disruption earlier this year, but its recovery is well underway. GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch attributed the Port of Savannah’s overall resilience to both its growing export markets and strong volumes before the coronavirus hit U.S. soil.
Total loaded exports at Savannah running from July 2019 to May 2020 came in at 1.33 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), an increase of 15,500 from the same period a year ago.
The Port of Savannah has undergone significant improvements and experienced a lot of expansion over the past decade. These changes — coupled with the fact that Savannah has become a first port of call from Asia — have helped solidify the port as a top choice for Fortune 100 companies that have been integral to the country’s pandemic response, according to World Distribution Services VP of National Sales Chris Krawczyk. This business undoubtedly helped Savannah stay afloat during the early months of the pandemic.
The Port of Savannah handled more containerized agricultural exports than any other port last year, and agriculture accounts for 60% of the Port of Savannah’s exports. Krawczyk expects this jump in export activity, which has been seen over the past several years, will keep the port stable for years to come.
“We strive for a 50/50 model of imports and exports. This keeps business consistent and keeps equipment running,” Krawczyk said. “This balance also allows freight forwarders to offer additional services like street turns. Ultimately, more emphasis on exports will benefit the port in the long term.”
World Distribution Services (WDS) currently operates one warehouse facility near the Port of Savannah. The company is set to open its second facility in October to meet growing customer demand.
“The last couple of years have been very interesting — potential trade wars, tariffs and a pandemic,” Krawczyk said. “These situations have caused some severe ebbs and flows in international trade, but overall the port has done a great job of making things as sustainable as possible.”
Companies utilizing Savannah have a lot of options at their fingertips, and figuring out how to best take advantage of the port’s offerings can seem like a monumental task. Partnering with a well-rounded 3PL like WDS can make the process far less daunting and ensure companies are getting the most for their money.
Some of the most important qualities to look for in a 3PL partner are multimodal capabilities, outside-the-box thinking and innovative technological offerings.
In order to embody this spirit, WDS is preparing to launch a virtual interactive tour, allowing current and potential customers to experience its facilities with a real-time tour guide from the comfort of their own homes. In a world with lingering travel restrictions and significant health risks to consider, this VR offering is designed to recreate the in-person experience without exposing either party to illness risks, according to Krawczyk.
As WDS strives to lead the industry into a safer, more connected world, Krawczyk emphasized the company’s commitment to the Port of Savannah and the surrounding community.
“Our organization has made a long-term commitment to Savannah,” he said. “We’re working with retailers all over the world to meet their e-commerce needs. Companies who need assistance with e-commerce fulfillment, cross docking, transloading, FBA, etc. should reach out to us about their needs. We can help.”