Friday, October 1, 2010

Quality Refrigeration - 60 Years of Cool

Jack Appelt started in the refrigeration business riding along with his Uncle Dave in his uncle’s Ford Model T service truck. His uncle, Dave Shannon, was a refrigeration technician for Frigidaire in the early part of the 20th century, and those trips with his uncle inspired Appelt to begin a career in refrigeration and air conditioning. In the late 1940s and early 1950s the world was rebuilding from the war, and the Port of Los Angeles was filled with ships calling between the West Coast and Asia. Those ships needed equipment for the preservation of perishables in transit, including galley foodstuffs and cargo, and to air condition the quarters of passengers and crew.

Jack Appelt recognized the need for a specialized marine refrigeration service company in Los Angeles Harbor. In 1950 he used his experience in refrigeration to form Quality Refrigeration to serve the booming cargo ship market as well as the commercial fishing fleet in San Pedro Bay. The company was so successful that in 1958 Jack Appelt brought in a dedicated employee, Richard Webber, as a partner to share the workload. The proximity to the Long Beach Naval Shipyard gave the company the ability to offer services to tankers, cargo ships, troop transports and destroyers deployed to the Korean conflict, as well as the burgeoning fishing fleet that was producing 9.6 million cases of canned tuna a year.

Quality Refrigeration started life in an 800-square-foot shared warehouse in Wilmington, California. As the business grew, so did the facility, which was expanded to 6,000 square feet in mid 1970’s. In 1996 the Long Beach Naval Shipyard was shut down, and the Navy expanded operations in San Diego. Quality Refrigeration responded by adding a facility to serve the new and existing San Diego-based Navy ships. The continued success of the company led to a move from the original Wilmington location to a new, 18,000-square-foot facility, also in Wilmington.

From the first day, Quality Refrigeration Company Inc. specialized in marine, commercial and industrial refrigeration and air conditioning with full 24-hour service and sales. The company offered service and repair to the maritime industry, including commercial shipping companies, the cruise and fishing industries, oil rig platforms, passenger vessels, tugs and shipyards, as well as industrial customers including refineries, industrial bakeries, manufacturing facilities and seafood processing facilities.

“The area used to have a huge fishing community,” says company President Jeff Hawke. “Even in the mid 1980s half the work we did was for fishing vessels.” Jack Appelt pioneered the installation of mechanical refrigeration systems onboard commercial fishing vessels and completed installations worldwide for clients such as Starkist.

“Jack introduced the flooded chiller system to the San Pedro fishing fleet,” says Hawke. “As the fishing fleet became more successful and the boats had to go farther out for fish, mechanical refrigeration became essential.”

When refrigerated containers were introduced in the 1970s, Quality Refrigeration was the frontrunner for the service of these units as well. The company has since expanded out of the “reefer” box business, but still provides warranty service and parts as a Carrier Transicold Dealer. Jack and Richard worked hard to expand the business and eventually passed on the business to their children, Charlotte Hawke Pesusich and Mike Webber. Keeping in the family tradition, the business is now in the hands of a third generation, Jeff Hawke and Jason Webber. Hawke and Webber are President and Vice President, respectively, following in their grandfathers’ footsteps and maintaining the thriving refrigeration and air conditioning business. The company’s success with its two Southern California locations has led Hawke and Webber to explore expansion into the San Francisco/Oakland region.

Jeff Hawke graduated from Cal Maritime Academy 1985 as Marine Engineer, and joined the company in 1987. Jeff began his career with the company designing and engineering systems along with job estimating and sales under the watchful eye of his grandfather. Today Jeff is President and oversees the overall operation of the company. Jeff’s mother, Charlotte Hawke Pesusich has worked for the company for more than 50 years and currently works part-time as controller. Her father Jack passed away in 1997, but he left the company in good hands.

Jack’s original partner, Richard Webber, passed the tradition down to his son, Mike Webber, who worked for the company 36 years before passing the reins to his son Jason. Jason worked his way up the ranks as a young boy sweeping the floor and carrying his dad’s tools. This led to a passion for refrigeration and air conditioning which could only be satisfied by getting his hands dirty on the equipment and fulfilling the unique needs of each customer. After attending technical schools and completing on the job training, Jason worked from the driver position in 1992, up through service technician and journeyman. Today he leads the crew of service technicians, and became Vice President when his father retired in 2007.

Today, Quality Refrigeration operates worldwide, performing installation and service of air conditioning and refrigeration systems on ships in Japan, Korea, Singapore, Guam, South America, Africa and Mexico, as well as throughout Europe and the US. As Jeff Hawke points out, when customers need parts they need them in a hurry. To that end, the company keeps an inventory of more than $500,000 in parts and equipment between the Wilmington and San Diego locations, including an extensive inventory of hard-to-find parts for outdated equipment. Quality Refrigeration also has a team of 15 service technicians available 24-hours a day and ready to go where the client needs them. Six inside customer representatives take care of sales for the company, including parts and equipment, and have clients throughout the maritime industry as well as international export customers.

Quality Refrigeration can service, repair or replace any marine refrigeration or air conditioning system, and has served as a Carrier Transicold Marine Distributor and Service Center for more than 40 of its 60 years. Jason Webber says, “Safety is a priority to our company.” Webber is responsible for insuring that Quality Refrigeration complies and works to the highest safety standards, and the company conducts weekly in-house technical training sessions to ensure that the service technicians have the latest tools and information at their disposal. The training also allows Quality Refrigeration to keep their technicians abreast of environmental issues, new refrigerant regulations and the EPA compliance requirements.

Much of the company’s work is performed under government contract, and some of the company’s most recent projects include Navy vessels. One notable contract is the Navy’s T-AKE Program at General Dynamics/NASSCO Shipyard in San Diego. The T-AKE is a dry cargo/ammunition ship, designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea while providing underway replenishment services. The ships provide logistic lift from sources of supply either in port or at sea and transfer cargo that includes ammunition, food, fuel, repair parts, and expendable supplies and material to station ships and other naval warfare forces at sea. Quality Refrigeration has been providing installation support, start-up and commissioning of the ships stores refrigeration systems.

The Navy’s T-AKE program is expected to total 14 ships, which will keep Quality Refrigeration busy on the program through 2012. Quality Refrigeration has also performed work on the US Navy T-AGOS vessels for Military Sealift Command. The T-AGOS ships are ocean surveillance ships built on a Small Waterplane Twin Hull, or SWATH, design for greater stability at slow speeds. The ships gather underwater acoustical data in support of the anti-submarine warfare mission of the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. These ships were designed to tow an array of underwater listening devices to collect acoustical data, which also carry electronic equipment to process and transmit that data via satellite to shore stations for evaluation. The sensitive electronic equipment onboard these ships requires extensive cooling, as do the civilian crew operating the vessels. The four ships, USNS Effective, Victorious, Loyal and Able, each received three Carrier Transicold 96-ton chillers for the main air conditioning systems. The work was performed at a shipyard in Singapore, where the company provided installation support, start-up and commissioning. The USNS Effective was commissioned last month, and work on the other ships will be completed in 2011.

Earlier this month Quality Refrigeration embarked on a land-based project for the US Coast Guard. The company will replace all the galley refrigeration equipment at the Coast Guard Facility at San Pedro. Quality Refrigeration prides itself on maintaining the family atmosphere that started with Jack Appelt and Richard Webber. Along with the third generation currently running the company, many of Quality Refrigeration’s employees have been with them for decades. To thank their staff for their hard work and dedication, Hawke and Webber will be observing the company’s 60th anniversary with all of their employees and their families next month with a company-sponsored weekend celebration at a Mission Bay resort in San Diego.

Long Beach Council Takes No Action on Mayor's Veto of Bridge Project Funds

The Long Beach City Council on Tuesday took no action to overturn Long Beach Mayor Robert Foster's veto of a $60 million line item in the Port of Long Beach fiscal year 2011 capital outlay budget that could delay the start of construction of the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement.

A group of four Council members added a discussion of the Mayor's veto to the agenda during a Tuesday special meeting of the Council, but after lengthy debate and public comment, the Council as a whole took no action other than to receive and file the comments rendered.

The $60 million port budget line item rejected by the Mayor was to have paid for the relocation of the port’s maintenance yard which sits in the path of the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement. The yard, which houses port maintenance staff and equipment, must be moved as a precursor to starting construction on the bridge project.

The Gerald Desmond Bridge is the major ingress and egress point for truck traffic into the port area. Trucks traversing the bridge currently carry an estimated 15 percent of the nation’s container traffic.

The bridge replacement project, being funded by a combination of federal, state and local funds, would replace the existing bridge with a new $1.1 billion structure that would have greater traffic capacity and allow the largest container vessels to access the port's terminal facilities beyond the bridge.

The current bridge opened in 1968, and despite multi-million dollar upgrades by the port, is deteriorating structurally at a rapid pace.

The port maintenance yard relocation was originally intended to be part of a much larger project that would consolidate port staff and the maintenance yard in a new port administration building. The current port administration building opened in 1959 and has been deemed seismically unfit. The Mayor has opposed the construction of a new port administration building.

The Mayor vetoed the port line-item arguing that because the yard relocation was still itemized under the new administration building project line, he could not approve it. The Mayor suggested that even though port officials have publicly said the administration project is not moving forward, the relocation of the yard was a way for the port to move forward with the administration building project.

The port maintains that the yard relocation is necessary for the bridge replacement project.

Mayor Foster said that the port can still obtain the funds by coming to the Council as soon as it wants with a port budget amendment reflecting the yard relocation under a line item not associated with the administration building project.

Because the Council must now approve the port’s funding for the yard relocation, this would appear to place the final financial approval of the initial component of the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project in the hands of the City Council instead of the Board of Harbor Commissioners.

Vancouver USA Port to Seek Fed Funds to Complete Rail Project

The governing board for the Washington-state Port of Vancouver agreed this week to apply for a federal loan to cover the remaining $76 million needed to complete a major expansion project of the port's rail infrastructure.

The three-member port board voted unanimously on Tuesday to seek the loan through the United States Federal Rail Administration.

The loan, if approved, will provide the final funding component to allow completion of the port's West Vancouver Freight Access project. The goal of the estimated $148 million WVFA project is to boost rail capacity and efficiency at the port by increasing the port's rail network from just under 17 miles to more than 44 miles.

In July, the port completed a rail loop project as the final phase of its $66 million Terminal 5 rail upgrade project--itself the first key component of the larger WVFA project.

Work began on the Terminal 5 rail loop began in November 2009 and was declared officially open by BNSF on June 29. Completed ahead of schedule and on budget, the rail loop marked the first major milestone under the West Vancouver Freight Access and Industrial Track Agreement, a deal reached between the port and BNSF in 2008 that provides the overall blueprint and timeline for the WVFA project. The entire WVFA project is expected to be completed some time in 2017.

When completed, the WVFA is expected to triple the rail car capacity of the port-area BNSF tracks.

Seaspan Orders Four New Tugs for Vancouver BC Area

Seaspan International has announced that it has signed a contract for four new state-of-the-art assist tug boats that, when delivered between the end of this year and the fall of 2011, will be placed into service in the Port of Vancouver, British Columbia-area.

The order, with Sanmar Denizcilik Shipyard, of Istanbul Turkey, is Seaspan's single largest tug build commitment of a single class of vessels in more than 35 years.

Financial details of the deal were not released.
The primary duties for the new tugs will be to dock, undock and escort ships in and out of Vancouver Harbor and the Roberts Bank-area.

The new RAstar 28-meter tugs were designed by North Vancouver, BC-based naval architects, Robert Allan Ltd., and according to a statement by Seaspan, will be amongst the most powerful vessels to sail BC waters.

"We are excited to announce this fleet enhancement to our employees, the BC marine industry and the community at large," said Jonathan Whitworth, CEO of Seaspan parent-firm Washington Marine Group. "The benefits of a purchase of this type are numerous, including the rebuilding and modernization of our fleet, and increased safety and capabilities for all ship escorts performed in the Vancouver Harbor. As recently reported, the port has an immediate need for more modern and powerful tugs to assist the growing number of tankers within the port. Seaspan recognized this growing concern, and I'm extremely pleased to report that we took the necessary steps to assist Port Metro Vancouver and the BC Coast Pilots in providing the solution."

Whitworth also said that recent changes in Canadian tax laws and a favorable exchange rate due to the devaluation of the Euro environment had created a "golden opportunity" for Seaspan to order the new tugs.

"Because of these two factors alone, we were able to increase the purchase size from an initial three boats to the eventual four boat order," he said.

Mediator Wants 2-Year Extension to Canadian Docker Contract

A Canadian government mediator working to piece together a labor agreement between British Columbia dockers and their employers has recommended that the current contract be extended two years.

Contract negotiations between the union dockers and their employers have been ongoing since January 4, 2010 and the current labor agreement expired March 31, 2010.

The federal mediators' report, completed in July, recommends that if either the International Longshore and Warehouse Union of Canada or the employers' British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) move toward a strike before September 2012, the Canadian government be prepared to step in with back-to-work legislation.

The report also calls for the formation of an industrial inquiry commission to look at the protracted contract talks as well as persistent reports of discrimination against female dockers on the waterfront.

The BCMEA said it wants to see binding arbitration begin, while the ILWU supports the findings of the mediators' report.

A shutdown at the West Coast Canadian ports could have a devastating impact on the Canadian economy according to the mediator’s report. The three ports of Port Metro Vancouver alone, said the report, represented $9.8 billion in economic output for the British Columbia economy in 2008. The Port of Vancouver, BC, which is part of the Port Metro group along with the North Frasier and Fraiser River ports, is the busiest container port in Canada, the fourth busiest on the US/Canadian West Coast and the fifth busiest in North America.

The last labor related shutdown at the Canadian West Coast ports was in 1999.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Guam Banks $50 Million for Port Upgrades

A major modernization effort at Guam's commercial port received a sizable boost on Saturday when island officials were notified that the United States Defense Department has transferred $50 million to the Port Authority of Guam.

President Barack Obama approved the Defense Department transfer to the port as part of the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010, signed into law in early August.

The Act authorized the $50 million transfer to the Port Authority of Guam's Improvement Enterprise Fund, which will be administered by the US Transportation Department's Maritime Administration, or

The Port Authority of Guam has cited the federal funding as critical to kick starting a more than $260 million plan to upgrade the island's commercial port infrastructure needed to meet anticipated increases in cargo from an impending relocation of U.S. military operations on the Japanese island of Okinawa to Guam. The military buildup will see more than 8,000 Marines, their operations and more than 9,000 military dependents shift from Okinawa to Guam by 2014. The buildup is set to begin later this year.
The first phase of the plan is expected to cost just more than $100 million and focus on critical waterfront infrastructure and equipment upgrades at the port.

Several previous efforts by the port authority and island government failed to secure initial funding for the port upgrades.

The PAG also plans to use the $50 million in Defense Department funds to secure an additional $50 million loan for port upgrades from the US Department of Agriculture.

Bellingham Port Names Top Exec Candidates, Again

The nearly 15-month search for an executive director at the Port of Bellingham appears to be on track – again.

Bellingham port officials announced three new candidates to fill the executive director office left vacant since the resignation of former port top executive Jim Darling in June 2009. Port Facilities Director Fred Seeger has served as the port's interim executive director since June 2009.

The three new candidates are:

Mark Beaty, executive director of operations for the US Customs and Border Protection Office of Air & Marine Headquarters in Washington DC.

Gregory Borossay, general manager of liner development with the Oregon-state Port of Portland.

Charles Sheldon, a 20-year veteran of the Port of Seattle now serving as a special projects coordinator for the port's executive team.

Earlier this year the port announced five different individuals as finalists for the $125,000- to $135,000-a-year position after whittling down a pool of more than 110 applicants.
Shortly before a round of public meetings to introduce the candidates, two of the five finalists removed their names from contention.

Port officials then decided they wanted additional candidates beyond the three remaining finalists. Although the three individuals were asked to keep their names in contention, each withdrew his name shortly after the port decision to expand the candidate pool.

Los Angeles Approves Port Trucker Employee-Only Schedule

The governing board for the Port of Los Angeles on Monday approved new trucking regulations that will phase out independent owner-operator drayage drivers by the end of 2013 in lieu of per-hour employee drivers.

The employee-only mandate and several other components of an access license scheme contained in the truck program were cleared for implementation when US District Court Judge Christina Snyder dissolved an injunction against the components on Sept. 16.

Judge Snyder's ruling is being appealed by the American Trucking Association to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The ATA has also requested that Judge Snyder stay the removal of the injunction until the Ninth Circuit can fully review the case. A hearing has been set by Judge Snyder for Oct. 25.

The new employee-only mandate could impact more than 6,000 port-servicing drivers that are currently independent owner-operators. Portions of the truck plan implemented since 2008 resulted in more than 10,000 drivers leaving the port drayage service and the shuttering of hundreds of local mostly small trucking firms.

The new three-year phase-in schedule approved Monday calls for 20 percent of all gate calls at the port to be handled by employee drivers by the end of 2011, 66 percent by the end of 2012 and 100 percent by the end of 2013.

An additional truck program component that was previously enjoined calls for the truckers servicing the port to have an off-street parking plan in place. The new schedule will extend the deadline for trucking firms to have such a plan until Jan. 1, 2011, with enforcement expected to begin July 1, 2011.

Los Angeles Agrees to Seek Famed Battleship

The Port of Los Angeles already boasts a major Maritime Museum and a multi-million dollar Bellagio-like dancing water fountain. Now, Los Angeles City Hall is looking to add some major firepower to its list of port-area attractions.

The Los Angeles City Council on Friday approved backing a plan by the non-profit Pacific Battleship Center to bring the World War II battleship USS Iowa to the Port of Los Angeles.

The battleship remains in the Navy inventory in "on hold" status as part of a government program that donates vessels to museum groups.

The USS Iowa, which saw service in World War II, Korea, and served again as part of the US Navy's "big stick" policy from 1984 to 1989, is the last remaining battleship in the world that has not been permanently placed as a floating museum.

In May, after another proposal by a group seeking to locate the warship in Vallejo fell short, the Navy reopened bids for hopefuls wishing to acquire the USS Iowa.

In August, Los Angeles port officials began a study of the proposal and cost benefit analysis of the proposal seeking to bring the vessel to the port. The analysis is expected to take several months.
The Pacific Battleship Center group in the past has pointed to the nearly $500 million economic boost the city of San Diego has experienced since the aircraft carrier USS Midway opened on the San Diego waterfront as a floating carrier and naval aviation museum in 2004.

Approval of a 10-year lease from the Los Angeles port is needed before PBC can submit an application to the Navy to receive the USS Iowa. The Navy deadline for applications is November 24.

Ironically, the city of Long Beach, boasting the second busiest container port in the United States, which sits adjacent to the Los Angeles port, is nicknamed "Iowa by the Sea," for the large number of Midwest transplants to the city.