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Veteran Savannah developer George Powers back in logistics business

There’s a new business taking shape at Georgia Ports Authority’s Savannah River International Trade Park off Ga. 21.

It’s TradePort Logistics LLC, and the name of its principal should be familiar to anyone who knows the area’s maritime history.

Savannah native George Powers was building and operating warehouses near Georgia Port’s Garden City Terminal long before “logistics” became an industry buzzword.

In fact, Powers was in the warehousing business before most people – even locals – had any inkling Savannah’s sleepy Southern port was poised for an explosion of growth.

The son of a Savannah marine salvage and warehouse businessman, Powers established American Port Services in 1987, growing its footprint from 50,000 square feet to 13 million square feet and providing logistics services to the retail industry with locations in Savannah, Jacksonville, Charleston, Norfolk, Chicago, Seattle, Houston and Los Angeles.

In 2004, after turning down numerous offers for his company, Powers agreed to partner with one of the largest truckload carriers in the country.

The following year, the carrier made Powers an offer to buy the company and Powers felt it was the right time to sell, agreeing to stay on — along with longtime APS executive John Edwards — for the transition.

Powers left the company in 2007, while Edwards stayed on, just recently leaving to join Powers and his son, George Jr., at TradePort.

Filling a need

For their first venture back into the logistics business, Powers and company acquired Tract 8 at the Georgia Ports’ Savannah River International Trade Park, 70 acres of prime industrial real estate less than 5 miles from the Garden City Terminal gates.

In looking to fill a critical need, TradePort is currently preparing to break ground on a state- of-the-art, 100-door transload facility — or crossdock — with ample container and trailer parking.

“Transloading is part of our DNA at TradePort,” Powers said. “The evolution of e-commerce and the implementation of larger vessels continues to drive the need for speed throughout the supply chain.”

Powers said there are only three other large crossdock facilities in the area; all are filled to capacity.

“While TradePort will offer a wide range of logistics services, our focus is on fast-moving retail,” he said.

Also planned for the campus is a 650,000-square-foot, double-sided distribution facility, which will be operated by Tradeport Logistics.

“We are working very closely with our partners at the Georgia Ports Authority to ensure we are in step with market needs as we expand further in Savannah,” he said.

The real estate connection

The growing container volume at Savannah’s Garden City Terminal, coupled with the critical need for industrial warehouse capacity has prompted TradePort Holdings — the real estate arm of Powers’ company — to join forces with MDH Partners, LLC, to develop properties around the ports and in other locales.

Formed in 2005, MDH Partners is an Atlanta-based real estate investment company with a portfolio of more than 11 million square feet of properties stretching from Virginia to Florida.

“Savannah’s ever-growing port volume, along with partners like TradePort Holdings makes this the perfect market for MDH,” said company co-founder and CEO Jeff Smalls.

Powers agreed.

“It’s exciting to have partners like MDH and the Port of Savannah as we begin this new venture,” he said.

“It just feels like this is as good a time as any to get back into the business.”

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