Toyota Logistics Services recently presented Crowley’s Puerto Rico/Caribbean liner services group with its prestigious Partners Award in Customer Service for 2007. It was the sixth consecutive year the company has received such recognition from Toyota.

Bill Pennella, vice chairman and executive vice president of Crowley Maritime Corporation, accepted the award during a dinner ceremony in Carlsbad, CA, at which Toyota Logistics recognized all of their logistics partners, including ocean, truck and rail providers for extraordinary service over the past year.

“This award is tremendously gratifying because we know Toyota is committed to building and delivering the highest quality vehicles for their customers,” said Pennella. “This award reflects the care with which we handle their vehicles and the responsive customer service we provide.”

Beginning with their first shipments of cars from the US to Puerto Rico in 1992, Crowley has been the exclusive carrier of Toyota vehicles to Puerto Rico. Crowley has nine triple deck barges, some of which are more than two football fields long, which are towed by large, oceangoing tugs between Jacksonville and San Juan.

The vessels and Crowley’s vehicle handling processes continually meet Toyota’s strict standards for quality.

Crowley reinvests profits to maintain and enhance the car decking on its vessels such that all have padding, alignment lines, and fresh paint. The padding on posts and rails and alignment lines were added to minimize the potential for damage to vehicles during the loading and unloading process. The vessels are equipped to accommodate between 200 and 400 vehicles per voyage.

Crowley employs a dedicated team of auto checkers and traffic specialists to handle vehicle shipments. The terminal’s entire traffic department plays a large role in ensuring that load lists are correct and documentation is complete.

Toyota established operations in the US in 1957 and currently operates eight US manufacturing plants, with two more under construction. There are over 1,400 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships located in 50 US states and there are 31 in Puerto Rico including 24 Toyota, six Scion and one Lexus dealership. Selling over 2 million vehicles in the US in 2004, Toyota has a direct US investment of over $13 billion and direct US employment of over 31,000. According to a 2005 Center for Automotive Research study, Toyota, along with its dealers and suppliers, has generated over 386,000 US jobs - including jobs created through spending by direct, dealer and supplier employees. In addition to its cars shipped within the continental US and into Puerto Rico, Toyota ships approximately 11,000 vehicles per year to Hawaii as well.