Port Manatee wows truckers with free lunch
PALMETTO, Fla. - Port Manatee's first Trucker Appreciation Day has so impressed professional drivers that officials of the Florida Gulf Coast port are looking to make the free lunch event an annual happening.
"This is the first port I've seen offering free lunch to truckers," Robert Davis, a driver for Jackson, Ga.-based produce hauler Boaty's Transport, said after enjoying a hot dog served by Port Manatee executives. "I have been in the trucking business for 40 years and in and out of a lot of ports. Nobody showed this kind of appreciation before."
Davis was among nearly 200 truck drivers and even a few members of their families who were treated to lunch May 6 at a picnic-style function just outside Port Manatee's main gate.
"This is such a great event and I really appreciate this on behalf of my company," said Marlon Richardson, who drives for Vass, N.C.-based bulk carrier Sterling Transport.
Port Manatee's executive director, Carlos Buqueras, said, "We are truly grateful for the hard work and commitment of the drivers who contribute to the success of our port. We realize that truckers are often underappreciated, so we wanted, in some small way, to let those who haul cargo in and out of Port Manatee know we greatly value their dedication."
Betsy Benac, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority, enthused, "We are thrilled at how well-received our Trucker Appreciation Day has been. While we cannot thank enough the drivers who serve Port Manatee and its customers, we certainly look to make this an annual event."
Trucker Appreciation Day sponsors included terminal operation and stevedoring firms Logistec Corp., Federal Marine Terminals Inc., Kinder Morgan Port Manatee Terminal LLC and Gulf Coast Bulk Equipment Inc.
Located "Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico," Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanding Panama Canal, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The port generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, while supporting more than 24,000 jobs, without levying ad-valorem taxes.
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Matty Appice, left, Port Manatee's senior director of trade development and sales, gets a hug from Sterling Transport driver Marlon Richardson at the port's Trucker Appreciation Day lunch.
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At Port Manatee's Trucker Appreciation Day, lunch is served to truck drivers - and one of their sons - by, from left, Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee's executive director, and Dave Sanford, the port's deputy executive director.