OSWEGO, NY – Excess military equipment, some headed for the scrap yard, is finding new life and helping to stimulate the economy in Central New York.
Zelko Kirincich, executive director and CEO of the Port of Oswego Authority, has recently purchased nearly $1.2 million of cargo handling equipment for less than $42,000.
The equipment is all U.S. Army surplus from Iran/Iraq.
It now has a new lease on life and is currently on-site and being utilized by the port as it expands its operations.
William Scriber, manager of administrative services, safety and security manager, at the port, used his connections to ferret out equipment that the military is no longer using – but is a boon to operations at the port.
Some of the equipment includes forklifts, semi-trailers, diesel generators, mobile ramps, dump truck, light stands and more.
“It’s all used military. He (Scriber) negotiates, he negotiates them down and he does what he does and we get things that we need,” Kirincich said. “Some thing we had to put a little money into but the value to us is much more.”
The equipment is all currently in use at the facility as well as on the breakwall.
For instance, the port was renting lighting plants at a cost of $300 per month. Scriber purchased three for $150 each.
“You have to be a state entity, you have to be certified and get registered with the federal and state government and be a part of the system, Kirincich said.
“Then, basically, it’s a lot of … work,” Scriber added. “The state has been exceedingly helpful to us. They have a department within the Office of Governmental Services that does this. Then you have overseas; we just got those forklifts from overseas. It’s like a pool of organizations that deal with excess equipment.”
Scriber goes on-line, looks at all the web sites, gets emails from people inquiring whether the port would be interested in certain pieces of equipment. They sort through all the information.
“If Zelko says, ‘I want this,’ I will find it. If I don’t find it, I may get you something ‘close’ to that. But you constantly have to be in the system,” Scriber told Oswego County Today.
“Those are 988 RTCHs (Rough Terrain Container Handlers),” he said indicating some heavy equipment working nearby. “Those, the government paid about $170,000 apiece for. On the local market right now they are worth more than 90 (thousand dollars), just to buy one. We paid $5,500. So that’s a good deal. But we couldn’t find a 40-foot rack attachment to handle these containers.”
“So (Scriber) went searching. Not only did he come up with one of them, he came up with six of them,” Kirincich said.
It took some time, Scriber said.
“You have to call each of the military excess bases; there are bases all over the United States that take these and put them on line. You have to learn about it,” he said. “I’ve developed a relationship with one person in Pennsylvania. She assisted me and sent emails out and we all kept our eyes open. We actually found them in California in an open field – they were going to be scrapped for excess metal. I called the guy up and said, ‘Listen, I really could use those.’”
After three phone calls, Scriber convinced the person to sell all six to the port.
“They were going to be scrapped. They were in a field in the middle of the desert, just sitting there. We paid for one rack $1,200 – on the open market, if we were to buy it there, it would be $50,000 and that’s for a used one!” Scriber said.
“Things that nobody wants, things headed for scrap, we bring back here and give them a new life,” Kirincich said. “Not one time have they failed us. We just put gas in them and they’re good to go. We got a lot of equipment and we’re not done yet. It’s a good thing.”
Two huge forklifts, with less than 600 hours on them, are on their way to Oswego from Germany, Scriber said.
“One was 2006, one was 2007; for military that is brand new. They’re even really broke in yet,” he said.
The equipment not only benefits the port, it helps drive the local economy.
“Every piece of equipment that we buy is another person in the seat, that’s another day’s work helping boost the economy. We can use all the forklifts we got and then some. We’re creating revenue for the port, which creates stimulus for the entire area,” Scriber said.
One of the new arrivals is being readied for what’s to come in the months ahead.
“We got a six-wheeled dump truck, all-wheel drive, and our mechanics put a snowplow on it,” Scriber said. “That’s better than any town or county snowplow. It’s all-wheel drive and heavy – it’ll go through just about anything.”
“Not only did we buy a Freightliner (tractor-trailer), we used it to go down and pick up another piece of equipment. So we saved a lot of money there,” Kirincich said. “It just makes sense. Other people should do it, if they qualify. We don’t buy everything we see.”
“I’ve been lucky enough to establish a relation with most of these major hubs so I can call and ask them what they think about this or that and they’d tell us sometimes to wait, something better could be coming along,” Scriber explained. “So, we get an idea of how good something is before we decide whether to buy anything.”