SEATTLE TRUCKER BECOMES AN OCEAN CONSOLIDATOR

SEATTLE TRUCKER BECOMES AN OCEAN CONSOLIDATOR

Maust Corp., a Seattle trucking and freight forwarding outfit, has jumped into the ocean freight consolidation business and expanded its third-party logistics division, but has closed its terminal and warehousing operation.

The moves reflect a more international outlook and strategy for the 93- year-old firm.Maust's international division was organized last year as a foreign freight forwarder. Earlier this month the company received Federal Maritime Commission clearance to operate as an ocean freight consolidator, known technically as a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC).

"We're definitely doing very well" in the NVOCC business, said Patrick G. Cohn, chief executive officer. Maust offers a worldwide network of agents to help control freight movements by all modes of transportation from origin to overseas destination, he said.

"This new division allows us to serve our existing customer base more thoroughly," he continued.

The decision to abandon intermodal container freight station operations at its 100,000 square-foot terminal was fairly straightforward. "We were not profitable there," said Mr. Cohn. "Last year was a very unprofitable year for us in terminal operations. We lost a large customer in 1994." Maust eliminated about 20 people from its payroll in the move.

Last month the Port of Seattle cited the same reason - lack of profit - when it ceased its container freight station at Terminal 106. Those stations are off-dock areas where cargo containers can be loaded or unloaded for export and import movements. Generally, there is a Customs exam station at the same location or nearby.

But another trucking and freight station company, MacMillan-Piper, immediately stepped in, assuming Maust's lease at the terminal and hiring the employees that had been let go. Not a day of terminal operations at the facility was missed, said Jim Piper, president of MacMillan-Piper. "I guess we have more things going for us; we can make a go of it," he said.

MacMillan-Piper, with a work force of 170 and fleet of 50 trucks, now operates six terminals in Seattle, three in Tacoma. It is not registered as an NVOCC.

Maust's decision to get out of terminal operations reflects "changing market conditions," said Mr. Cohn. The company has no plans to get back into them. Instead it will focus on its strengths, which are trucking, transportation services and the new international division, he said.

The transportation service arm arranges trucking of refrigerated and dry commodities between the Northwest and inland points. It specializes in consolidations of frozen seafood from the Puget Sound area to the eastern United States. The unit is expanding into other refrigerated and dry-freight markets, including import and export movements through Northwest ports. Maust has the largest fleet of reefer trailers, about 70, in the area.

Maust Transfer operates from the Canadian border to the Olympia, Wash., area. The division is a Customs-bonded carrier with about 180 pieces of rolling stock.