By Terry Berthiaume
Morterm Limited was founded to capitalize on an expected surge in ship traffic when the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959, through the acquisition of an unused iron ore and coal dock in West Windsor. Known as Morton Terminal Limited, the company was backed by U.S. and Belgian interests. However, when ship traffic failed to materialize as expected, the project floundered, and the company became inactive.
Morton Salt became the company’s new owner, and made improvements to the then-60-year-old facility, with paving and the construction of warehouses. After a number of years, it became apparent that further investment was required, but low traffic volumes made that difficult to justify.
Morton Terminal Limited became Morterm Limited in 1983. Under new ownership, investments totaling millions of dollars were made to improve infrastructure and transform the terminal into a first-class facility, including improvements and renovated warehouses, re-construction and sheet piling of the pier, and a new entrance providing access to a local expressway, the Ambassador Bridge and Highway 401. More asphalt was poured and hectares of graveled outside storage compounds were created.
At the same time, equipment required to conduct business was overhauled and renewed. A 400-ton- capacity crane was acquired, as was a fleet of heavy-duty lift trucks and a reachstacker (up to 100,000-lb capacity). The network of rail lines on the terminal was revamped, as was the rail connection with Morterm’s sister company, Essex Terminal Railway, which provides shippers and receivers with rail access throughout Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Greg Steel, a 30-year-plus veteran of the industry, is the company’s Terminal Manager handling the day-to-day activities. Mr. Steel is supported by a dedicated group of supervisors and administrative staff. Teresa Boutet, Vice-President, oversees the entire operation. Longtime company executive Terry Berthiaume is President and CEO.
Morterm Limited has emerged as a major industry participant in stevedoring, warehousing, transshipment and storage company that competes in the Lake Ontario/Lake Erie/Lake St. Clair/Lake Huron region. The company handles steel in any form – coil, plate, beams, wire rod, etc. – as well as bulk products, such as fluorspar and raw sugar, and project cargoes including wind turbine components. Morterm Limited can handle any type of cargo from any type of vessel operating on the Great Lakes – St Lawrence Seaway system.
Morterm’s Windsor terminal is an ideal location for wind turbine importers. Southwestern Ontario enjoys wind conditions that have attracted wind farm developers to the region, and more than 100 wind turbines have been discharged from ships, stored, marshalled and shipped from Morterm by trucks in the past few years.
Everything about wind turbine components is big, heavy and awkward. Partly because of that, Morterm’s facilities – particularly the very large outside storage compounds – are ideal for wind turbine parts and pieces. Very large trucks needed to transport wind turbine components have to make only two turns to deliver throughout the area, an obvious advantage. The entrance to the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel Ferry is located just outside Morterm’s gate providing a cross-border transit option for wind turbine components, dangerous goods and dimensional loads.
The Canadian government has reached an agreement with the U.S. for construction of a new international border crossing which will be located about one kilometre from Morterm’s facilities, with access via the Windsor Essex Parkway, which is currently under construction. This new cross-border connection will further enhance the smooth, efficient flow of cargo to or from Morterm and the U.S. Midwest.
Terry Berthiaume is President of Morterm Limited.