Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Toyota Docking in Benicia

Toyota Docking in Benicia
Partners Celebrate Arrival of First Shipment
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN, Times-Herald staff writer

NEW TOYOTAS are stored at the Port of Benicia after the first delivery by the cargo vessel Green Lake. Photo: David Pacheco/Times-Herald

BENICIA - There is a human element even in the largest international business deals, and the one that brought Toyota back to Benicia is no exception.

Jim Triplett, director of the Port of Benicia and president of Benicia Port Terminal, was instrumental in negotiating the deal over the past year and a half.

He spoke at a recent ceremony marking the arrival of the New Orleans-registered Green Lake, carrying the first new Toyota shipment to the Port of Benicia. The cargo ship held more than 5,000 Toyota nd Scion models, the latter described by Toyota officials as a youth brand sold by Toyota.

Dignitaries from the enterprise's various partners presented each other with plaques at the event, at which East met West on board ship. The assembly enjoyed a lunch featuring both sushi and sandwiches.

"We're very pleased that Toyota selected us, and we're excited to be a partner with such a successful automotive company," Triplett said.

At 54, Triplett said, he's been in the car import business for more than 30 years, since 1972, although that represented abandoning the road he'd originally chosen.

"I was going to be a teacher," Triplett said. "I was in college, but Ford had a better offer. So I got involved with importing, and stayed in the business."

Triplett said he loves the work.

"I genuinely enjoy getting up in the morning and dealing with international trade challenges and interfacing with customers that may be domestic. It's fun. Like playing a game. Seeing something be better each day than the day before," he said. "It could be a new opportunity,

a new customer, a higher level of satisfaction, seeing a new employee or seeing one advance up the ladder. It's all satisfying."

Among those present at the welcome ceremony was 23-year-old Third Mate, Christine Davis of Pasadena. This was the 2004 California Maritime Academy graduate's second shipboard job since finishing school.

As a child, Davis said she had imagined herself a teacher, like her father, when she grew up, but then her older brother entered CMA and she figured she would follow suit.

"It sounded good, and I kind of went in with the idea that if I didn't like it, I could leave but that it would be really sad not to try," said Davis, who added that her career goals depend on finding ways to juggle them with home life.

"I want a family some day, so I don't know. Chief mate maybe. But if I get that far, I'll probably want to go all the way to captain," she said.

Davis said her experience as a woman sailor has been mostly positive.

"I haven't had too many bad experiences. You learn to be tougher, with all eyes on you. You're a minority," Davis said. "But when you hear good reports, that makes you feel good."

- E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at or call 553-6824.

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