- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2000

A new state-of-the-art auto-processing plant has opened at the Port of Baltimore.

The Masonville Auto Facility, located on the south side of the Patapsco River across from Fort McHenry, will eventually process up to 125,000 vehicles annually.

The 55-acre, $20 million plant, which opened officially Sept. 28, will create between 250 and 300 jobs.

This facility is the fifth auto terminal at the port, which is ranked consistently among the top three automobile ports in the country.

The cargo that passes through the Port of Baltimore ranges from automobiles and zinc to coal and wood pulp.

About 30 million tons of cargo pass through the port annually, generating $1.4 billion in revenue.

More than 400,000 imports, exports and domestic cars and light trucks like sport utility vehicles passed through the port last year. In the past 10 years more than 3.5 million cars and small trucks have rolled through Baltimore.

The new facility will expand the port's capacity to handle automobiles by 25 percent.

Already a shipload of Hondas sent to the Masonville facility are being delivered to dealers in the Washington metropolitan area.

The auto-processing plant, operated by ATC Logistics International Inc., makes sure the imported cars are completely finished so they can be delivered to dealers in the area. ATC Logistics inspects the cars and washes them. The company also does a variety of additional work to the cars from installing radios and air conditioners to adding outside stripes to the body of the car.

"We are an extension of the factory," said Howard Gable, president and chief operating officer of ATC Logistics International. The Jacksonville, Fl.-based company has a 20-year lease with the Maryland Port Administration to operate the facility.

About 70 percent of the cars that will be shipped to the plant will likely already be sold and, once fixed up, will be delivered to area dealers. The remaining part of the shipment is usually sold within a couple weeks at the most.

The facility also has an advanced vehicle tracking system that tells where each of the cars is headed. It also gives dealers access to the plant's inventory.

The Masonville facility will also handle exports and prepare those cars to be shipped around the world. Those vehicles need such work as seat belt changes or even televisions added.

Mr. Gable said after about 18 months the Masonville facility should be handling between 100,000 to 125,000 vehicles annually.

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