Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tacoma Port Marks Auto Handling Milestone

August has been a month of milestones at the Port of Tacoma.

Just days after celebrating the 100-millionth board-foot of lumber moving through the West Hylebos Log Facility last week, the port marked the handling of the one millionth Kia vehicle moving through the port.

The 2011 Optima Hybrid, still covered in protective wrap – rolled off a ship at the port’s Blair Terminal on August 11.

The automaker began importing vehicles through the port in February 1995, and like every vehicle since, the one millionth Kia was processed by Blair facility operator Auto Warehousing Company (AWC). AWC, which has been based in Tacoma since 1970, is the largest vehicle processing firm in North America and employs about 200 workers at the Tacoma auto facility.

Port commission president Connie Bacon celebrated the milestone and praised the benefits the port's association with the South Korea-based Kia and AWC have brought to Tacoma.

“Over the years, the Kia business in Tacoma has meant thousands of longshore hours for our International Longshore Workers Union Local 23 workers who drive the vehicles off the ships, and hundreds of jobs at AWC and throughout our community," Bacon said.

The United States market share for Kia Motors America (KMA) – the US marketing and distribution arm of Seoul-based Kia Motors Corporation – has grown each year since the automaker entered the US in 1994. Last year the automaker eclipsed the 350,000-unit per-year sales mark in the US for the first time – its best-ever US sales year and its 16th consecutive year of increased US market share.