Let's say you drive a foreign car. Maybe it's German, Japanese, South Korean, whatever.
Ever wonder how that import got from Asia or Europe to your driveway in the Garden State?
Sure, there are the dealers, the truckers, the shippers. But then there are also folks like Gary Love.
Love, who was appointed last month by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to the Marine Transportation System National Advisory Council, serves as vice president of Port Newark-based Foreign Automotive Preparation Service Inc., also known as FAPS. Continuously operating out of the port since 1956, the Foreign Trade Zone-approved company employs 205 workers and provides import and export services, such as accessory modifications to automobile manufacturers globally.
Perhaps a foreign-built Nissan or Infiniti comes into Port Newark without a rear backup camera or navigation system, two highly coveted accessories in today's American auto market. Or maybe it's a regulatory safety measure that the foreign car must adhere to. Love and the FAPS team will modify the vehicle so that by the time it reaches a dealership in, say, suburban New Jersey, the customer gets what they are looking for.
“We're actually adding value,” said Love, who first joined FAPS in 1996.
Love credits founder John LoBue with the company's success, noting that it was his vision in the 1950s that Americans would increasingly demand foreign automobiles that “allowed us to get to the place we are today.”
In 2007, during the height of automobile demand in the U.S., Love says the company worked on roughly 432,000 vehicles in a calendar year, a statistic he himself notes as a “tremendous figure.”
Though that was pre-recession, the company is still going strong and has now established a Detroit-based office near the heart of the American auto industry — where Love currently operates — in order to help grow its export market.
Still, FAPS is a Jersey company and has no business interests outside Port Newark, which Love says is the “most strategic port in North America” in terms of markets that can be reached from it. For instance, through Port Newark, FAPS can service markets as far north as Toronto and Montreal and as far west as Chicago.
But it's not always rosy down on the waterfront. Though Love lauded the Port Authority's recently approved five-year incentive program to attract new automotive manufacturers to the port as a measure that will keep the industry “competitive,” he notes more needs to be done to level the playing field for all of the ports on the Eastern Seaboard.
High harbor maintenance taxes and a well-documented worker shortage at the area's port has others taking notice, from Norfolk, Va., to Baltimore to Davisville, R.I., the latter of which has served as the port of entry for Porsche Cars North America for several years.
“We've become an easy target for others that would want our business,” Love said.
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