HOLTS’ PORT EMPIRE: Time To Revisit Their Sweetheart Contract?

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The Holt family has a history of confrontations and failures that would bend or break most dynasties. Today, though, it flourishes economically as the Holt Logistics Corp.

Tom, Sr. can sit back with great satisfaction, since his corporations’ flags fly over Philadelphia’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, the Port of Philadelphia’s largest, and Gloucester Terminals LLC, just south of Camden, which the Holt Logistics Corp. labels as having “the largest refrigerated capacity of any terminal in the United States.”

Its history at Packer Terminal has been checkered, but protected by a 50-year operator’s contract, the length of which is unheard in all the histories of all the ports in the entire world. It’s a contract that remains unbroken, despite the family’s habit of flipping management to new operating entities whenever an old one runs onto a financial reef.

For example, in 2002, Greenwich Terminals LLC had taken over responsibility for stevedoring and terminal operations at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal from Holt Cargo Systems, which had gone into bankruptcy.

Who or what is Greenwich? Quoting its website, “Though Greenwich Terminals is reportedly controlled by the Holt family, it is not involved in the group’s bankruptcy proceedings.” The name change did nothing but insure the Holt family would continue its domination over the huge terminal, the most lucrative asset of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, the government entity which oversees the City’s and State’s holdings in the Port.

The Holts didn’t miss a moment as Greenwich Terminals and as Astro Holdings Inc. assumed control as the leasehold tenant of the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal operation. Though they had gone into bankruptcy with one of their corporations, they remained as stewards of the terminal under the umbrella of another corporation.

The Holts’ image among Port stakeholders is, “brook no competition”. Their goal to dominate the Port has not diminished, no matter how many bankruptcies they’ve suffered. Recently, the Holts were able to exact some revenge for having lost their 2006 battle to take over Tioga Terminal from Delaware River Stevedores.

They had hoped their long-time patron, Gov. Ed Rendell, would pressure PRPA to approve a Holt bid to wrest Tioga Terminal from DRS, a firm with a long history at the Port, and headed by Robert Palaima, with an equally long history of working Port facilities.

Unlike the Holts’ contract at Packer Terminal, which reportedly covers 50 years, the Tioga Terminal contract was up for a revisit.

When Leo Holt inadvertently tossed off a comment to a business colleague overseas, to the effect “Gov. Ed Rendell has promised” his family Tioga Terminal when its contract with DRS came up for renewal, a Port alarm was sounded.

Joining and pushing for the retention of DRS were President Boise Butler, of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1291, the largest union in the Port, which knew under Palaima’s tenure Tioga Terminal would remain a totally union operation, and Ricardo Claro, president of CSAV, which controls the shipment of millions of tons of Chilean produce into this country.

Claro wrote Rendell in March of 2006, “For almost four decades, Pennsylvania and Chile have enjoyed an extraordinarily productive association. The hundreds of millions of tons of cargo we have transported to the Port of Philadelphia represent thousands of jobs and make an enormous economic impact.

“It brings me no joy to say if this contemplated change occurs, we will absolutely depart with regret from the Port of Philadelphia.”

CSAV said it would move its ships to Wilmington. Butler advised the Governor a meltdown in union cooperation would occur all around the Port. Shippers would be unhappy.

Despite the many chits the Holts had accumulated from their long-time financial support to the many campaigns of the Governor, dating back to his days as District Attorney, he pragmatically allowed DRS to renew its contract. It was a slap-down.

Questions continue to be asked about the Holt family and its history with the Port of Philadelphia, the first being, “Why so long a contract on Packer Terminal?”

The second question is: “Why are the terms so cheap?”

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One Response to HOLTS’ PORT EMPIRE: Time To Revisit Their Sweetheart Contract?

  1. Holt’s are a German Family and manipulated by the Nazi’s that have been monopolizing the world and are threading there way through world economy’s.They have been distracting us for year’s.Start the propaganda. TEA BAGGERS=NAZI’S.CONservative governMENt = NAZI’S..Spread the word.

    DANA MOORE
    February 28, 2011 at 9:20 pm

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