Bentley World Packaging has a niche making the right package to fit the shipment and the Port of Baltimore’s portfolio of freight makes a perfect fit. Partnerships are critical. Executives at Bentley World Packaging find that the Port of Baltimore and Maryland Port Administration (MPA), in particular, make good partners. That’s because not only is the seaport convenient, efficient and dependable, the Wisconsin-headquartered company has special needs. Bentley specializes in custom designing and packaging commercial and military shipments that can be both massive and delicate. The MPA has been of great help to this company that hails from Wisconsin and has some 15 locations, three of which are in the Baltimore area. Sara Scarfo, Bentley’s director of Business Development in Baltimore, points to how MPA operates as a facilitator between port customers, vendors and suppliers. “They act as the link to bring us together,” she says. “They have been extremely productive in allowing us to network.” The reason: MPA’s customers are all over the United States and the world. MPA also markets its port around the world.
Bentley's Sparrow Point 52,000 sq. ft. facility features cranes with a lifting capacity of 1-75T/50T and forklifts with a 15,000 lb. lifting capacity. (Photo: Bentley World Packaging.)
Bentley’s Sparrow Point 52,000 sq. ft. facility features cranes with a lifting capacity of 1-75T/50T and forklifts with a 15,000 lb. lifting capacity. (Photo: Bentley World Packaging.)
“MPA officials get inquiries, bring the information back, share it, and find out who can best help a customer,” Scarfo says. “They are a huge asset to us, and us to them. We also have access to customers that they don’t know.” MPA also employs people who work specifically on rail, trucking and warehousing issues, and break bulk, bulk and forest products. “MPA subject matter experts understand who in the community we can access and make certain these people understand their options in Baltimore,” Scarfo maintains. In addition, it doesn’t hurt that Maersk and CMA CGM now call on the Port of Baltimore. With Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and Evergreen Line in the mix, this means the port is now home to the four largest container shipping companies in the world. “They have the capacity to bring these ships in, which means more business for the port and businesses in the community,” she says. Scarfo particularly praises MPA’s efforts to work with the local community to get an access gate at the far left side of the Port of Baltimore in Fiscal Year 2016 so that trucks hauling oversized, over dimensional super loads do not have to go through the City of Baltimore to get to the port. Instead they would arrive directly from Baltimore County. “This is huge. This eliminates the need for a permit,” Scarfo says. “Getting permit can take hours and hours. Time is money. Plus permits cost money.” Acquiring the permit is especially a hassle, she explains, because one has to go through both the city and country to obtain the permit. Stakeholders in the shipping community also have an opportunity to get involved through groups such as the Baltimore Port Alliance and Q-Chat. The Baltimore Port Alliance holds monthly meetings the first Friday of every month to review and vent on issues and impediments to bringing new business to the port. “This is a forum for all stakeholders at the port to attend, and bring information and feedback for the people of the community,” Scarfo says. MPA sponsors Q-Chat meetings, an initiative created as a vehicle to assess performance areas, identify problems, and take corrective action steps to improve the quality handling of the cargo at the Port of Baltimore. Additionally the QCHAT measures quality factors to prevent problems from occurring. “The idea is to make sure everything runs perfectly,” Scarfo says. Perfect is a Must Shipments that move efficiently and without damage are at the heart of Bentley’s business. Case in point: Recently, Bentley World Packaging was employed by a global mining manufacturer to package and ship a massive battery carrier safely more than 8,000 miles from the Port of Baltimore to a mine in South Africa. Coming in at 40 feet long, 12 feet wide, 8 feet tall and weighing more than 55 tons, the battery carrier required carefully designed and engineered packaging to ensure it arrived at its destination undamaged. The Bentley team built a solid export box around the whole piece that featured a series of “trap-doors” on the top and sides that allow access to lifting points so the carrier and its packaging could be moved with a crane. “When you’re packaging something as large and as heavy as this carrier you can’t lift it using the box,” says Keith Stouten, plant manager of Bentley’s Baltimore facility near Sparrow’s Point Terminal. “The packaging is designed to rest the piece in, and the entire packaged unit is lifted using the lifting points on the carrier.” That facility – one of two at Sparrow’s Point Shipyard—is designed to handle heavy, wide and sometimes awkward products that need to be packaged and shipped worldwide. Seventy-five ton and 50 ton overhead cranes handle the lifting. Combined, the two heavy crane facilities offer nearly 150,000 square feet of packaging and warehousing space capable of handling almost any export packaging and warehousing job. Bentley’s other Baltimore facility on Erdman Avenue has two 15 ton cranes and two 5 ton cranes. Scarfo explains that the company chose to locate in Baltimore because of the port, its proximity in the Mid Atlantic and Midwest. “We have the depth of resources to handle anything from the warehousing, distribution, consolidation of projects that include larger, over dimensional super loads to military needs,” she says. “Not a lot of companies have this expertise.” Bentley World-Packaging, which has been in operation since 1942, is globally focused, yet regionally positioned. In fact, it has some 15 locations and over 1 million square feet of facility space within Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and operations not only in Baltimore, but also Charleston. Bentley is among the largest export and specialty packaging firms in the United States. While Bentley is predominately an export packer, it also handles imports – a business that Scarfo says is increasing due to the strong US Dollar. “We do a lot of warehousing for shipments coming into the Port of Baltimore and distribute shipments from that point,” she adds. When shipments arrive, Bentley employees strip the shipments from containers or flat racks, and then move them to flat beds or closed van trucks. “Shipments then go to various points in the Northeast or Midwest,” she says. Sometimes Bentley arranges the transportation from the port to its facilities or customer facilities. “We warehouse shipments until they are needed at end location,” Scarfo adds. “We work with customers from short-term cross dock transloading to longer term projects.” The Port of Baltimore offers on dock rail service to two Class 1 railroads, CSX and NS (Norfolk Southern). Additionally, rail is available at Sparrow’s Point Terminal. A short line railroad services Sparrow’s Point Terminal with 100 miles of track that also connects to CSX and NS. Sparrow’s Point Terminal with 100 miles of track that connects to CSX and Norfolk Southern. Currently, Sparrow’s Point is upgrading its onsite rail systems. “This will allow the Baltimore community to have better access,” Scarfo says. “As that becomes a more viable option in the port community, the Maryland Port Administration will be better able to sort out intermodal issues because they will have more access to both lines.” Currently, Bentley partners with another company when customers require rail access. But Bentley executives realized that rail services in more and more required by some customers. Consequently, the company is searching to add another location in Baltimore where it can utilize direct rail access.