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VOL. 6 | NO. 41 | Saturday, October 5, 2013

Logistics Limelight

City’s transportation and distribution capabilities on display during Southeast Freight Conference

By Michael Waddell

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World-renowned as a logistics and distribution hub, Memphis will further raise its profile this month with events that showcase the city’s transportation assets and standing in the global economy.

Interstate trucking is one reason Memphis is hosting the Southeast Freight Conference.

 (Memphis News/Andrew J. Breig)

The Memphis World Trade Club and Cargo Business News are making final preparations for the fourth annual Southeast Freight Conference and the 63rd Port of New Orleans Night to be held at the Memphis Cook Convention Center and The Peabody hotel Oct. 9-10.

The two-day event will include a variety of A-list speakers and panelists from the logistics industry, tours of local intermodal facilities, and various networking and social opportunities.

“This conference is officially on the map for the freight industry at large as one of the significant events in our industry,” said Peter Hurme, editor of Cargo Business News. “When we talk about the U.S. connection to global overseas markets when it comes to logistics, shipping and freight movement, the Southeast is the up-and-comer.”

The Southeast region is being termed the “battleground for cargo” by the freight industry for a variety of reasons.

Hurme cites the massive investments made by cargo owners for distribution facilities and infrastructure, big investments for improvements to rail yards, and the huge agricultural impact in the Southeast as key indicators. Plus, with more than 78 million in population, there’s a huge cargo base in the Southeast.

“Memphis is a huge intermodal hub competing with cities like Atlanta or Chicago, so it was a natural fit for the conference since it focuses not only on Memphis but the entire Southeast region and its connection to the global economy,” Hurme said.

The target demographic for the conference is beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) and the companies that serve them, like multimodal transportation providers, third-party logistics providers, ports and distribution facilities, technology and equipment providers, economic development agencies and other related professionals.

“There are so many reasons why Memphis is a great place for logistics,” said Allan Bowden, 2013 Memphis World Trade Club president, pointing out that those reasons include central location, five Class 1 railroads, the world’s second-busiest cargo airport, the nation’s fourth-largest inland port and two busy interstates.

The conference will be held Oct. 9-10, followed by Port of New Orleans night on Oct. 10.

“Attendees will hear about what’s happening with logistics in the Southeast so that they can be more informed and make more informed decisions about their freight,” said Bowden, who is also general manager with Prime Time Strategic Partners, a division of Corky’s. Prime Time handles frozen food fulfillment for Corky’s and other companies.

Hot topics are likely to include labor at the ports, containerization regulations and traffic, new railroad infrastructure, the opening of the expanded Panama Canal, new hours of service regulations for truckers, and air traffic to and from the Memphis International Airport.

“We’ve got a power-packed agenda, with executives and experts from the global freight logistics industry who will be speaking on a variety of topics,” Hurme said.

The theme for the opening day is “The Southeast Rises.” Hurme expects to begin the day with an economic overview and forecast of the shipping industry from Chuck Clowdis, managing director of transportation advisory and consulting services for the IHS Global Insight think tank and economic advisory.

Keynote speakers for the day will include Craig Mygatt, senior vice president of country operations with Maersk Line North America (the largest container shipping line in the world), and Memphis Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien.

Barry Horowitz, principal with CMS Consultants and former global logistics manager for Nike, will be the session leader throughout the first day.

“We will hear from the cargo owners about the Southeast and about Memphis, so we will hear from Adam Hall, director of international logistics for Dollar General Corp., and Howard Mitchell, the director of distribution operations for Medtronic Inc.,” Hurme said.

Also on hand on the first day will be Michael Symonanis, regional head of Allenberg Cotton Co./Louis Dreyfus Commodities and chair of the Transportation, Documentation and Insurance Committee for the American Cotton Association.

“We start with the cargo owners and move our way down the supply chain, so we will be hearing from rail, trucking, air and port executive from all over the Southeast,” said Hurme.

The afternoon of Day 1 will feature panel discussions on rail and trucking perspectives, seaports and inland ports and distribution, with speakers from Norfolk Southern Corp., CSX Corp., IMC Cos., Prince Rupert Port Authority, Jaxport, PortMiami, Performance Team, South Carolina Ports Authority, and the Port of Virginia.

The theme for Day 2 is “Memphis Moves,” which begins with keynote speakers Neely Mallory III, chairman of the Regional Logistics Council president of Mallory Alexander International Logistics.

Later in the day Larry Jensen, CEO of Commercial Advisors/Cushman & Wakefield, and Jack Sammons, president of Ampro Industries and chairman of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, will talk about the growth and evolution of the aerotropolis surrounding Memphis International Airport.

The morning will also feature panel discussions on the Memphis supply chain and the Memphis-New Orleans connection, with panelists from CN Worldwide, Dunavant Global Logistics Group, Nike, the Port of New Orleans and others to be determined.

The afternoon of the second day will include a tour of the Intermodal Gateway-Memphis intermodal terminal at Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park, which is shared by CN and CSX railroads, as well as a surprise customer facility tour.

“The Southeast Freight Conference highlights Memphis’ connectivity to the rest of the globe, particularly the Southeast ports and the city of Memphis’ distribution network and supply chain capabilities,” said Roquita Coleman with CN Supply Chain Solutions and the 2011 Memphis World Trade Club president.

CN, which has intermodal and switching facilities here and whose longtime but now retired CEO E. Hunter Harrison is from Memphis, has sponsored the conference for many years.

“Memphis is a very critical part of the CN network, so from our perspective the area covered by the conference is part of our network and highlights our capabilities as a rail provider for the region,” Coleman said.

The second day will be capped off by the Port of New Orleans gala at The Peabody, with dinner and remarks, cocktails, live music and dancing.

“Day 2’s special presentation on the Memphis-New Orleans connection will be the perfect lead-in that evening for the Port of New Orleans night at The Peabody hotel,” Hurme said.

Port Night celebrates the key strategic relationship between Memphis and the Port of New Orleans.

“Port Night is a very popular event and a great finishing touch for the conference,” Bowden said.

The Port of New Orleans and CN are the title sponsors of the conference. Other sponsors of the event include local companies like IMC, Adams & Reese, Dunavant Enterprises, Mallory Alexander and V. Alexander, plus a number of national and global companies.

The conference is growing each year, and this year more than 1,000 people are expected to attend during the two days.

“We think the Southeast Freight Conference is going to become our flagship event,” Hurme said. “Of all the events that we do, we are really bullish on this one.”

Last year’s conference was held at the Hilton in East Memphis, but this year organizers selected the larger Memphis Cook Convention Center to handle anticipated growth in attendees for the next several years.

“We were looking for a permanent home for the event, where there would be plenty of room to grow,” Hurme said. “We see a trade show component growing alongside the conference content down the road to make this really a huge event. We feel we are at the beginning of something really big.”

This marks the third year in a row the conference will be held in Memphis, following an initial year in Charlotte.

Seattle-based Cargo Business News is a shipping and logistics business media enterprise and commercial printing company that formed in 1922. The company puts on a number of regional freight conferences across the country each year.

The mission of the Memphis World Trade Club is to be the key resource in the Memphis community to promote the growth and participation in international trade. Membership for the 66-year-old club has grown steadily over the past few years, pushing enrollment to more than 300 members.

“We have events on a monthly basis and conferences on an annual basis to provide a network and a forum for people in the international logistics community,” Bowden said. “The club’s theme for this year is to “Move Memphis Forward,” and our goal is to be a catalyst to help Memphis be all it can be.”

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