JAXPORT thriving during pandemic, ready to accommodate more ships & containers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The holiday countdown is underway: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

But those holidays also have some of us tracking items we’ve ordered, more closely, than usual.

Action News Jax Courtney Cole reports that, even with global supply chain issues, JAXPORT said they are ready to help make sure shelves are stocked and your gifts arrive on time.

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Robert Peek, the Director and General Manager of Business Development, said JAXPORT has not experienced the same kind of congestion like ports to the north and the west.

But Cole spoke to a shopper who has a gift-giving plan that’s full-proof.

“I’m always a last minute shopper. It’s just how I am, it’s how my family is too,” said Benny Pastrana.

But Pastrana knows supply chain issues and last-minute shopping don’t mix... so he’s got a better plan: gift cards.

“You don’t have to worry about too much contact and everybody can appreciate getting a gift card,” Pastrana explained.

For those of you who are still planning to buy tangible gifts, JAXPORT is working to help make sure the things on your wish list have a chance of getting there on time.

“This last year, we handled more containers than we ever have in our history. 1.4 million cargo containers this year. We’ve been handling containers for more than 50 years and our terminals this year handled more than we ever have in a single year,” Peek told Action News Jax.

Peek told Cole that pretty much anything you would find at a big box store, or home improvement store is making its way through a port.

“Not only consumer goods, appliances, consumer electronics, furniture, a lot of furniture moves through our port. Also a lot parts for factories,” Peek said.

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Peek went on to say that JAXPORT could handle considerably more containers than they have now, upward of 50%.

Pastrana said it hasn’t affected his family yet, instead they’re focused on something else that reappears during the holidays:

“Got a house full of people that order from Amazon all the time. They get their stuff all the time. Gotta watch the snatchers out there, though,” Pastrana said.

Investments including harbor deepening, new cranes, the re-building of berths, and re-doing terminal yards have all allowed for more capacity at JAXPORT – which helps in a situation like a pandemic.

Just last week, Governor Ron DeSantis said Florida seaports have the capability to handle more cargo.

That’s good news for holiday gift giving over all, but some of our local businesses are definitely still feeling the effects of the supply chain.

Cole spoke to Rick Doran, the General Manager at Arlington Toyota, about how it’s affecting their inventory.

Doran told Cole they are selling the product as it comes in, but they’re not getting a lot of ground stock.

“It’s pre-sold when it comes in. Which is making the supply chain go further out, because we’re selling what’s coming in, so if people want a car, they have to wait 60 days to get it,” Doran explained.

When Cole asked Doran how customers have been responding to this, he said, “I think they’ve gotten used to it because it’s every industry. It’s not just automotive. It’s every industry.”

Doran said 75% of their inventory is either at JAXPORT or incoming and about 25% of it is on the ground.

JAXPORT said strong demand from car buyers has JAXPORT’s auto business near pre-pandemic levels.

More than 616,000 vehicles moved through JAXPORT during the year.

“Jacksonville historically has been the second busiest vehicle handling port in the United States. We handle, most years, we handle over 600,000 vehicle units, that’s imports and exports,” Peek told Action News Jax.

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Doran said they’ve been dealing with low inventory here at Arlington Toyota for a little over a year.

While their new-car inventory is low, they’re selling used cars as well. They have about 400 right now.