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BYLINE: BILL MONGELLUZZO
U.S. exporters have plenty of customers. What they need are containers. Export demand is growing by 20 percent a year, but shippers are losing sales because they have to wait three weeks or more for ocean carriers to reposition empty containers to their warehouses and packing facilities.
"Products are rotting in the field because we can't get containers," said Terri Bartle, Portland operations manager at the Oregon freight forwarder TLR.
Equipment-leasing companies have what appears to be an ideal solution. They have thousands of empty containers scattered across the country. The leasing companies have to reposition the empties to Asia to be reloaded with lucrative cargo, but they don't want to pay the freight rates that ocean carriers charge for repositioning.
So the lessors are willing to lease their containers to exporters for free. If there is a drayage charge to truck the empty box to the exporter's facility, the leasing companies may even consider paying part of the cost. And they'll do the same on the receiving end. After the consignee in Asia unloads U.S. …