Port of Thunder Bay: The Superior Way West
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Port of Thunder Bay

Port of Thunder Bay: The Superior Way West

by Scott A. Sumner

  The Port of Thunder Bay  recently  launched a refresh of its corporate brand strategy, unveiling a new logo and tagline, “The Superior Way West”. The new brand strategy supports the Port of Thunder Bay’s
strategic growth objectives and vision as the preferred marine route for European trade with western Canada.
Says Tim Heney, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Thunder Bay; “The Port of Thunder Bay’s new brand will enhance our market proposition as the superior way to and from western Canadian markets.
We felt it was time to strengthen the Port of Thunder Bay’s global brand strategy as a provider of world-class port facilities and services in the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway to national and international supply chain customers.” 
A local agency, Firedog Communications, was hired for the rebranding project which involved significant research and consultation to gather insights from diverse stakeholders and Port customers across the
The rebranding project identifies the core proposition of the Port of Thunder Bay for future marketing and provides a new visual identity that will be applied across all communication materials in the coming
Continues Heney; “Our new identity reflects who we are today and better positions the Port of Thunder Bay for future growth prospects.  We are proud of our rich history, experience and capacity in the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway System. That’s why our new brand remains loyal to these core attributes for the benefit of our customers and community.” 
The Port of Thunder Bay is a vital international gateway for the movement of trade to and from Western Canada. Our business mix is continually growing and includes world-class cargo shipping, handling
and storage, as well as several niche activities. We are committed to being a market leader in the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway System, investing in our port facilities and developing partnerships to meet
global customer demands. Above all else, we work to be the preferred transportation route for international commerce with western Canada for the benefit of our customer and community. 

Tim Heney CEO of Port of Thunder Bay.
“ It’s a refreshment of our brand which we hadn’t done in 30 years, to update the message of the port, and our advantages in Thunder Bay. It really is a marketing tool for us. The process was quite interesting
and I’m kinda glad we did it. We will spread this on all materials going out.”

“ We have been a grain port for over 100 years and people sometimes think of us in the past. Geography may not be understood like it was in the past and my travels in the west had people asking where is Thunder Bay, is it still a port- these type of questions so we are trying to raise the profile of the port.”

“ We  want to increase and diversify the cargo of the port so how we do that is reach out to western Canadian projects that are ongoing like the oil sands, wind farms and construction projects. We go to the
suppliers in Europe and hook them together working also with trucking and railroad to put together a package that adds value to the shipper. We are now becoming recognized for this type of cargo.”

“ We then went through interviewing, port users, different people from Western Canada and from Europe and asked them their view of the port, what they felt our strengths were. We put together some of that
messaging into this logo. We have the Canadian flag, the blue line represents the seaway. We are uniquely Canadian as nearly everything we ship is a Canadian product. Other ports in Canada do a lot of American containers and coal and different products.”

“The port has an amazing capacity. Today we are unloading 400 rail cars in Thunder Bay. It happens silently, nobody notices the ships come and go. That  is only about 40% of what we could do. The Soo locks close January 15th and that is the end of it each year.”

“ We have a major project underway right now at the port, it is a major reconfiguring of the terminals. We have invested about $15 million in the last 10 years and next spring will build a new heated building and
rebuild some rail tracks. We have 8 miles of rail track here built to a 1962 standard. We are upgrading the
rail itself  to 110 pound rail and building new lay down areas. This will begin in the spring.”

  “ Oil could go through Thunder Bay. Potash we did in the past. Grain is getting a bigger harvest in the next few years.”
“The Port has about a $300 million economic impact in Thunder Bay with about 1000 direct jobs, say at the elevators and railways. We are a big employer and the biggest industrial tax payer in Thunder Bay.”

“We have seen investment in the seaway with 18 new ships, hands free mooring and the locks have all been redone.”

Greg Arason, Chairman of the Board
“ It has been 30 years with the old brand and it was time for a change. We are becoming much more of a two way traffic port  with the focus on serving  Western Canada as an importer and exporter. It has caused us to change our brand.”

“ The importance of Thunder Bay is sometimes lost on people further west and the objective of the port is to improve this. During this rebranding we found out some realities of our image so it was important
for us to project a new more modern outlook. The grain that comes  here is from most of Manitoba, a lot of Saskatchewan and some Alberta grain.
  The other cargo that goes through here is significant. We are a very viable and efficient alternative to move cargo like wind farm components, pipes etc.”

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