Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: ITS Logistics is making big moves in the Lone Star State; Lineage Logistics opens a cold chain logistics center in Houston; a metal recycling firm acquires a 55-acre tract at a logistics park; and TQL opens a new brokerage office in Arizona.
ITS Logistics making big moves in Lone Star State
ITS Logistics recently opened a $100 million logistics facility in Texas aimed at creating a distribution and fulfillment service across the U.S.
The 1.1 million-square-foot facility is located in Fort Worth at the Intermodal Logistics Center, a development adjacent to BNSF Railway’s Alliance Intermodal Facility and also in close proximity to FedEx and UPS regional hubs, Fort Worth Alliance Airport and Interstate 35.
“The Dallas-Fort Worth center is a big one and … we’re starting a heavy-haul special projects division that’s going to focus on cross-border, really heavy industry freight that supports oil and gas, aerospace and manufacturing that’s going to be spearheaded through Houston,” Paul Brashier, vice president of drayage and intermodal at ITS Logistics, told FreightWaves. “We’re going to start really building out that triangle from Houston to Dallas, down to Austin, San Antonio, back to Houston.”
Reno, Nevada-based ITS Logistics is a 3PL providing supply chain solutions across the U.S. The company offers logistics and warehouse services, as well as commercial trucking transportation.
The Fort Worth facility is ITS’ first logistics facility in Texas and, combined with the company’s existing facilities in Reno and Indianapolis, will support efforts to offer national fulfillment services to 95% of the U.S. population in three days or less.
The new space features 40-foot clear heights, 200-plus dock doors and parking for 211 trailers. It also allows ITS to add regional trucking operations, including dedicated contract services, drayage, linehaul and expedited.
Brashier said increasing freight flows at ports along the Gulf of Mexico is another reason for the new logistics facility in Fort Worth.
“If you look just at what’s going on in Texas through Port Houston, and some of the other Gulf Coast ports, it’s the reason that we’re shifting focus there,” Brashier said. “We’re also starting to focus on cross-border. Mexico is now the U.S.’ largest trading partner, larger than China.”
ITS Logistics recently issued its monthly U.S. port/rail ramp freight index on port container and drayage operations for the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts for November.
For the first time in the history of the index, all modes across all regions are at normal operations, ITS Logistics said.
“As the good news arrives just in time for the holidays, shippers and carriers should continue closely following the choke points at the Suez and Panama Canals as water conditions worsen and the current conflict between Israel and Gaza continues,” according to the index.
Brashier said water levels in the Panama Canal are limiting the amount of cargo that can be transported, while unrest in the Middle East also has the potential to affect vessel flow through the Suez Canal.
The ongoing freight recession is also causing many carriers to offer rates under their operations cost, which will cause more trucking companies and owner-operators to exit the market in the coming months, Brashier said.
“The largest concern there is that you’re seeing that these exits are not just in the dray space. You’ve seen Yellow go down, Convoy. … You’re seeing the canaries in the coal mine,” Brashier said. “It’s adversely affecting the small to medium-sized carriers a lot more.”
Brashier also said shippers should be wary of just looking for the cheapest freight transportation providers in the market.
“If you’re going to the RFP right now, you’re going to get cheap capacity [that is] in many cases, 75% to 65% rate reductions on lanes year over year,” Brashier said. “So you’re going to get the savings that you want, but it’s also a call out to what are you buying? The thing that we always tend to be mindful of and communicate back to our clients and those in this ecosystem is, how financially healthy are those providers?
When rates bottom out, many providers are operating at a loss on a rate per mile, which is bad for the overall freight industry.
“As long as rates stay there, you’re going to start seeing a lot of the folks that probably provided some really super-low rates start kind of washing out, they won’t be able to maintain those rates,” Brashier said. “Make sure that you have strong relationships and folks that you have a long-standing business relationship with, keeping them in network.
“It’s a very difficult balance for shippers, but taking in the fiscal health of the carrier base and hedging and just bringing more carriers on if you’re not 100% sure on some of your current carriers is a smart decision, we feel, as you go into uncharted waters in 2024.”
Lineage Logistics opens cold chain logistics center in Houston
Lineage Logistics announced the opening of a 315,000-square-foot temperature-controlled logistics facility in Houston, its sixth facility in the area.
Known as the Houston ColdPort facility, it’s located near the Jacintoport Terminal at Port Houston and offers integrated transportation and drayage operations to support import and export demand.
“[Houston] has recently seen a surge in port demand amid congestion and other issues at the big ports on the West Coast,” Brian Beattie, Lineage president of North American West, said in a news release. “By adding ColdPort to our Houston network, Lineage’s customers have another option to help manage their costs and increase productivity.”
The addition expands Lineage’s footprint in Texas to 20 facilities totaling more than 192 million cubic feet of capacity. Lineage also recently opened a cold storage facility in Lancaster, near Dallas.
Novi, Michigan-based Lineage Logistics operates more than 400 facilities on three continents, employing 17,000 workers.
Metal recycling firm acquires 55-acre tract at logistics park
OmniSource LLC, a subsidiary of Steel Dynamics Inc., has acquired a 55-acre, rail-served tract at the Gulf Inland Logistics Park to expand its metals recycling operations.
Gulf Inland Logistics Park is located in Dayton, Texas, about 37 miles northeast of Houston. The logistics park totals 2,400 acres and aims to provide manufacturing, distribution, rail services, storage and transportation capabilities for companies in the Gulf Coast region.
“Gulf Inland Logistics Park’s strategic proximity to Houston and its direct connectivity to key road and rail networks make it the perfect site for our latest metals recycling facility,” Miguel Alvarez, president at OmniSource, said in a news release. “The opportunity to begin operations in 2024 will empower us to quickly enhance our capacity to cater to our customers’ demands and significantly extend our footprint throughout the southern U.S.”
OmniSource operates around 70 scrap collection and processing facilities in the U.S. and Mexico. Its parent company, Steel Dynamics, opened a 1.2 million-square-foot flat roll steel mill about 226 miles south in Sinton, Texas, in 2022.
TQL opens new brokerage office in Arizona
Total Quality Logistics (TQL) recently opened a brokerage office in Tucson, Arizona, which reinforces its investment across the region, officials said.
“We chose Tucson because it is a major transportation hub and has a great pool of talent,” TQL President Kerry Byrne said in a news release.
The company opened its Phoenix office in 2016 and currently employs 100 people at the location. Tucson is the company’s 57th location nationwide.
Cincinnati-based TQL is one of the largest logistics firms in North America, with more than 9,000 employees in 56 offices across the U.S.
More articles by Noi Mahoney