Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: LGT Transport expands in Texas; Fintech firm raises $16M for cross-border trade; Transfar Shipping launches China-US Gulf Coast container service; and El Paso Logistics Park opens.
Nebraska-based tanker carrier expands in Texas to serve industrial refineries
LGT Transport recently expanded its facility in Baytown, Texas, to handle the growing volume of industrial gas clients in the U.S. Gulf Coast region.
The Baytown facility now also serves as LGT Transport’s Southern headquarters, managing clients and services in North Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas.
Pam Spaccarotella, founder and CEO of Omaha, Nebraska-based LGT Transport, said the growth in Texas has come from chemical and gas refinery customers.
“We still are focusing on the industrial gas industry, and the refineries are large consumers of industrial gases,” Spaccarotella told FreightWaves. “We have recently been expanding into anhydrous ammonia in the Gulf Coast region, and we are also expanding into liquefied petroleum gas.”
LGT Transport also has five other locations in Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee and California. Spaccarotella first opened a cryogenic manufacturing repair facility and truck terminal in Baytown in 2016.
“I had a trucking terminal and I also have this repair facility for cryogenic trailers and ISO containers that are used to transport ethylene in the liquefied natural gas space,” Spaccarotella said. “We outgrew that space, so in 2020 we bought 11 acres of land and we built our new facility in 2021.”
The Baytown terminal is now LGT Transport’s largest facility. It includes a 4,100-square-foot office space and 20,000-square-foot maintenance center. The expansion was completed in January.
About 75 to 100 trucks operate from the Baytown facility, with a mix of company drivers and owner-operators. The expansion included driver amenities such as showers, a laundry, a break room for meal preparation and storage, and a lounge and relaxation areas.
LGT has 178 trucks and 194 drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Spaccarotella founded LGT Transport in 2012 after a career in the Air Force where she worked as a missile launch officer. She is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and also has a law degree and is a certified public accountant.
“When I became a CPA, it was during that time in public accounting when I started working on transportation clients,” Spaccarotella said. “My trucking career really started when I became the controller and chief financial officer for Cryogenic Transportation.”
Spaccarotella worked her way up to president and CEO of Cryogenic Transportation before striking out on her own to found LGT Transport.
Petroleum and liquid tankers could be the trucking segment with the biggest employment shortfall, with an almost 42% reduction in qualified driver applicants since 2019, according to the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC), an industry trade group.
“The driver shortage has hit the specialized segment of petroleum drivers especially hard and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issue,” NTTC said in a study released in August.
Spaccarotella said LGT Transport has been very fortunate in finding drivers.
“We have excellent drivers, and we do not tend to have either the turnover or the difficulty in recruiting that most trucking companies have,” Spaccarotella said.
LGT Transport’s biggest challenge right now isn’t finding drivers but getting new tanker trucks.
“It’s very difficult to get trucks these days; the major truck makers are way behind on manufacturing this year,” Spaccarotella said. “All the trucks that we’re supposed to take delivery on in February have been pushed back to July.”
Watch: FreightWaves’ carrier update for Feb. 25
Fintech firm raises $16M to grow cross-border trade
The funding round was led by Union Square Ventures and included Upper90, FJ Labs, Base10 Partners, Exor N.V., Andbank, AlleyCorp, Operator Partners and Gilgamesh Ventures, as well as Brex, C2FO, Bluevine and Wisetack.
“We are very proud of what we have accomplished in our first two years. Our mission will continue to help more Mexican businesses expand their business internationally,” Mundi officials said in a statement.
Mundi was founded in 2020 by Martin Pustilnick. The company previously raised $7.8 million in a seed round led by Base10 and FJ Labs.
Mundi is a digital factoring financial platform aimed at Mexico-based freight forwarders exporting goods to the U.S. The company uses nonrecourse factoring solutions to provide financial services to transportation and logistics companies.
Transfar Shipping launches China-US East Coast container service
Singapore-based Transfar Shipping recently launched a China-U.S. East Coast service that includes two seaports in Texas.
Transfar Shipping will call the Chinese ports of Qingdao and Ningbo; and also includes stops in the Port of New York and New Jersey; Charleston, South Carolina; as well as Port Houston and the Port of Freeport in South Texas.
Transfar Shipping’s China-U.S. East Coast service currently offers one to two direct sailings per month. The service, which launched in December, is Port Freeport’s first container vessel to offer all-water service from Asia.
“The current disruptions in the supply chain have encouraged carriers and shippers to consider alternate ports of entry, Port Freeport has become an enticing alternative,” Phyllis Saathoff, CEO of Port Freeport, said in a statement.
Transfar Shipping began operations as a freight forwarder in July and launched liner shipping services on China-U.S. West Coast sailings using chartered vessels in August.
Transfar is owned by Chinese 3PL Worldwide Logistics, a subsidiary of Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company.
El Paso Logistics Park opens, signs 3 tenants
VanTrust Real Estate, a commercial real estate developer, recently completed the first phase of the El Paso Logistics Park in El Paso, Texas.
Phase I consists of four industrial buildings totaling 514,135 square feet on 59 acres. The park is a mile from Interstate 10 and 5 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border crossing at the Ysleta-Zaragoza International Bridge.
Kansas City, Missouri-based VanTrust also announced three new tenants at the park, including OLA Logistics LLC, Interceramic Inc. and Buckland Global Trade Services Inc.
“These three leases are a great example of the industrial demand that El Paso, the world’s largest border community, is experiencing,” Josh Meredith, director of development at VanTrust, said in a statement. “This is only the beginning of what is predicted to be a growing market in 2022.”
More articles by Noi Mahoney