By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,738)
“We haven’t decided yet whether or not to move our USA headquarters to Portland,” said Larus Isfeld, Managing Director of North Americans Operations for Eimskip, yesterday afternoon at his office on the Portland waterfront. Currently, US headquarters are located in Virginia Beach, VA. where Isfeld has lived for the past thirteen years and become “Americanized!”
Eimskip is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. It started as both a transportation and freight business in 1914, but converted into a freight business according to its International Executive Vice President, Bragi Thor Marinosson, who gave an enlightening talk at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Portland, on Thursday, March 13th; part of its Portland’s Evolving Waterfront lecture series. That date also marked the First Anniversary of Eimskip’s arrival on the indistrual West Commercial Street. The population of Iceland is currently 320,000 and most live on the shores of the Island because the interior is composed of a glacier, according to Marinosson.
Eimskip chose Portland because the infrastructure was already in place and assurances from the MaineDOT that the facilities will be expanded to include rail service for its imports. The distance from its overseas ports is much shorter than from ports down the East Coast as well. “The local and state authorities have been fantastic,” Isfeld said. This past year there were 26 port calls to Portland carrying water, frozen fish, aluminum and local products coming from Northern Europe and Scandinavia. Currently, Emskip has two vessels from its large fleet calling on Portland – that number will grow as does capacity in the Portland port. These products are then shipped for distribution in Chicago, Kentucky, Los Angeles, Miami and Montreal. They are trucked to Worcester, MA. first. “It’s necessary to get the railroad into this terminal to move our products in a cost-effective way. MaineDOT is working toward bringing a rail track in here. Probably PanAm. That will eliminate the truck step and make shipping more cost-effective for customers,” said Isfeld. “There are lots of rich fishing grounds in the North Atlantic.”
Eimskip has already seen an increase in volume from current importers that want to use this new port and invest in it as well, although Isfeld would not divulge who they might be at this time. He expects rail accessibility to be completed within the next five years. To make it all come together, the MaineDOT says it’s currently “negotiating” to take a large hunk of what was to have been :Phin Sprague’s New Yard by eminent domain. The “negotiations” are ongoing according to a MaineDOT spokesperson, but are expected to be resolved by mid-April. The work will go out to bid in June.
“Eimskip sees many untapped opportunities in Northern New England, but the success of the move thus far should be credited o the dynamic combination of dedicated company personnel, a spirited group of partners and collaborators in Maine and an unerring focus on making the operations successful,” said a spokesperson.
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