West Coast ports slowdown affecting local businesses, could drive up prices at stores

SEATTLE -- The West Coast ports slowdown is created a rippling affect for businesses who are trying to get products on the shelves.  The problem is a lot of container ships are stuck out in the Sound.  For some distributors, its creating backlogs and delivery delays.

One company experiencing the effects is Norvanco International Inc. in Sumner.  It's a company that brings in goods manufactured overseas, puts the products in their warehouse, inventories the items and then ships them across the world.

But with the ongoing issues at the ports, Marcus Moore, the vice president of sales for Norvanco, says that trying to keep a timely schedule is becoming difficult.

"Typically we can pull a container from the port within two days of a vessel arriving.  Today we're looking at anywhere from seven to 10 days for that same container," Moore said.

The Pacific Maritime Association -- which represents the companies operating at the ports -- has shut down the loading and unloading of ships through the weekend.  An ongoing labor dispute with longshoremen has slowed work at West Coast ports for months.

Truckers are also feeling the pinch, having to wait hours just to get a single container from the ports to deliver to places like Norvanco.

"Some of the service provider rates have jumped by as much as 50 to 75% in the last 120 days," Moore said.

Soon those extra costs could trickle down to consumers who might have to pay more at the store.

"This would relate to potential price changes long term, simply because the cost of not having goods not on the shelf and on the water puts the importers in a difficult situation," Moore said.

It's also a financial burden for manufacturers.

"They're frustrated financially, they're frustrated from a timing stand point. Many of our clients have to hit certain timelines with the big-box retailers in order for their goods to be sold and they're missing those timelines in some cases," Moore said.

The Port of Tacoma and Port of Seattle are urging the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to reach a deal.

For companies like Norvanco, they hope an agreement is met soon.

"We're hoping for a mutually beneficial solution to come as quickly as possible.  Ultimately it's good for all of us to have cargo moving through the Pacific Northwest," Moore said.