By Brian Dunn
Termont Montreal is a very busy place. While waiting for security clearance, no fewer than eight container trucks passed through the security gate at 9 a.m., part of the 900 or so vehicles that pass in and out of Termont’s Port of Montreal terminal daily, according to company General Manager Roger Carré.
The stevedoring and container handling company, located at Maisonneuve Terminal at Port of Montreal, is celebrating its 25th anniversary on Sept. 13 as it looks to tackle a growing, but pleasant problem.
“We have about 50 acres here that we lease from Port of Montreal and we’re operating at 100 per cent capacity, handling about 490,000 TEUs of container traffic a year,” said Mr. Carré. “But we need more space because the shipping lines want to grow their business here and we can’t fit more containers.” To help overcome its dilemma, Termont leases some space outside its terminal adjacent to the former Canadian Vickers Co. property and is negotiating with the Port for additional space further West near Hochelaga Street
Termont was formed in 1987 when two smaller terminal operators, Logistec Corporation and Cerescorp Company, created Termont Terminals. A subsequent re-organization witnessed the re-naming of the company to Termont Montreal Inc., owned by Termont Terminal Inc. (owned by Logistec Stevedoring Inc., a subsidiary of Logistec Corporation and Cerscorp Company) and Cortelina International Corp. Ltd.
The terminal is equipped with 11 rubber-tire gantry cranes, 14 front-end loaders, four specialized gantry cranes and 35 yard tractors equipped with chassis and other intermodal terminal equipment, and has direct access to CN and CP rail lines. Termont’s head office which houses about 30 office staff is new as of April, and is part of capital investments of close to $50 million that have been made during the past five years.
The new head office building is equipped with computerized inventory control with EDI capabilities, state of the art video cameras that monitor crane and rail movements and is about four times bigger than the building it replaced, said Mr. Carré. The old building was demolished for more container space. A new building is also being constructed for longshoremen to replace an older one which will also house the maintenance shed. “We were told back in 1987 that the original office was only a temporary one and we finally moved into our new premises 25 years later,” related Mr. Carré.
Born in Port-au-Percil on the North shore of the St. Lawrence River near Saint-Siméon, Mr. Carré comes from a seafaring family, with both his father and grandfather and countless uncles and cousins sailing the high seas. “My goal was to be a river pilot after I graduated from Marine School in Rimouski, but in 1970, I ended up with Clarke Steamships and then Cerescorp in Halifax for 17 years where I met my wife. Then I got transferred to Montreal by Cerescorp,” said the former deck officer on coastal and ocean-going vessels.
Termont handles about 45 per cent of the port’s business, second only to its next door neighbour, Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership, according to Mr. Carré. Its biggest client is MSC, followed by Hapag Lloyd and OOCL. The three carriers operate a joint North Atlantic Service to reduce operating costs and to maximize the number of ports they call on.
On a busy day, there can be upwards of 250 people working on the premises, including mechanics, stevedores, checkers and electricians, estimated Mr. Carré who added that Termont is the only Montreal terminal that can handle post-Panamax vessels with 17 containers across the deck compared to the standard 13. Asked how the business has changed in the last 25 years, Mr. Carré said a lot of lines have come and gone, notably the Russians, Dutch and Indians. “Some of them don’t even exist anymore.”
As for Termont’s own business, it has been profitable since Day One, although it came close to losing money in 2005, when it lost some customers. “We’re always at the mercy of the shipping lines and we have to be careful about competition from New York and Norfolk.”
With retirement looming, Mr. Carré’s biggest challenge is to find his replacement. He has no specific post-retirement plans as yet, but he will definitely be spending more time on his 33-foot sailboat plying the St. Lawrence past his “beautiful” birthplace on the way to the Gaspé coast.