By MIKE BENBOW
Don Hopkins started feeling good about the Port of Everett’s new container shipping venture when he ran out of business cards during a whirlwind series of promotional meetings in Japan last week.
"I went in thinking that hopefully there is a bright future for Everett," he said Tuesday. "I left Japan just grinning."
Hopkins, a port commissioner, John Mohr, port director, Peter Neess, vice president of North Pacific Steamship Corp., and others visited Japan to promote North Pacific’s shipping service between Everett and the Japanese cities of Osaka, Kobe and Nagoya.
Shortly after their arrival, the Tokyo-based Shipping and Trade Journal featured the service on its front page, boosting interest at subsequent meetings in the various communities to be served by North Pacific.
"The meetings kept getting bigger. People kept asking to be included," Hopkins said, noting he and Neess eventually ran out of business cards and had to have more printed up.
The new twice-monthly Japan-Everett service is the first venture into container shipping for the port. North Pacific has already signed up the Boeing Co., which will transport 777 fuselages assembled in Japan to the Everett plant.
"Boeing gave us instant credibility," Mohr said.
He noted that in previous port visits to Japan in the past, officials were trying to sell Japanese companies on the facilities here. "The main thing (this time) was that we had a service to sell," Mohr said.
He said there was strong interest in the service, especially from businesses with perishable cargo.
"There was a lot of interest from people moving highly valued cargo that was time sensitive," he said, noting the Seattle and Tacoma ports have continuing traffic tie-ups. "They’re interested in getting their cargo in and out pretty quickly."
North Pacific is chartering two ships initially, each with 40-ton cranes. The vessels will carry 72 Boeing containers, each four times the size of regular marine containers, plus additional cargo. It hopes to add a third ship later so cargo sets sail every 10 days instead of every 15.
The first vessel, dubbed the Everett Express, is scheduled to arrive in Everett July 19, Mohr said.
The scheduled service to the three Japanese cities will also include feeder services between those ports and China, Russia and Korea, Mohr said, adding the proposal was well-received in Japan.
"I expect we’ll see a significant amount of business from that," he said. "It’s the most successful trip I’ve ever been on."
You can call Herald Writer Mike Benbow at 425-339-3459 or send e-mail to
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