Like the locomotives that power out of its Rotterdam warehouse twice a week, Railex never seems to stop moving forward.
Despite a major recession along the way, the company has steadily grown since landing in the Rotterdam Industrial Park. The unique freight service that once hauled an average of 55 satellite-tracked, temperature-controlled box cars into the facility each week in 2006 has roughly tripled the size of its trains.
Railex now employs about 240 workers, more than double the number it hired after building its warehouse. And before next year, company officials anticipate hiring another 40 employees in Rotterdam.
The added work force could come in handy if Railex advances projects to build two new terminals in the Southeast and Midwest. Paul Esposito, the vice president of sales and logistics for Railex, said his company is actively looking for areas to expand, much like it did before building a $32 million cold storage facility in the fertile south-central region of California in 2009.
“Right now, we’re in the researching phase,” he said Tuesday. “We’re using the same process that has worked for us so far.”
Railex now runs two trains per week out of both Delano, Calif., and Wallula, Wash. These trains are merged in Wyoming to form a 150-car behemoth, which completes the trip east to the hub of operations in New York.
In total, the trains usually make the trip in under five days.
Once unloaded in Rotterdam, the cars are at least partially refilled with items to be shipped back west, including everything from bait fish to bottles of East Coast wines to beer.
Esposito said new terminals are being sought out in areas such as southern Georgia and northern Florida. He said the company is also considering building a terminus near major Midwestern cities, such as Chicago or St. Louis.
“We’ve done our analysis and we know there is a demand in both areas,” he said.
The robust business and future expansion plans also means Railex may be interested in expanding in Rotterdam. The company’s agreement with the Galesi Group, the industrial park’s owner, provides for an additional 220,000 square feet of expansion onto its existing 250,000-square-foot warehouse.
“We laid out the building so that it could be expandable,” said David Buicko, Galesi’s chief operating officer.
Esposito said plans for expansion in Rotterdam could be forthcoming. He said the company would like to add an additional five bays onto the 14 it now uses to unload the trains.
Railex wasn’t completely impervious to the economic woes experienced by the rest of the country. Esposito said the company saw a decline in revenue in 2008, largely driven by the trucking industry lowering its rates to 2006 and 2007 levels. But the company continues to win over new customers with its business model. Esposito said Railex has proven to be expedient, environmentally friendly and cost effective for companies utilizing its trains.
“We’ve been very lucky,” he said. “We’ve shown a continual growth in what we ship.”