Tidewater Transit builds success methodically, deliberately
Oct 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Charles E Wilson
Cargoes are more varied today. The carrier expanded from the initial three liquid cargoes into a wide range of chemicals, both liquid and dry. Acids are part of the cargo mix. Plastics now account for about half of the 1600 shipments a week that the carrier handles on average.
“We've been transporting plastic pellets since 1988,” says Lance Collette, Tidewater Transit executive vice-president. “We began a major push in 1992 to expand our operating area and increase the range of products hauled. We plan to maintain the cargo diversity, because we believe that has given us an advantage with our customers.”
The customer base also became more diverse over the years. However, the company remains very focused on dedicated carriage, and fully dedicated service still accounts for about 15% of the business, according to Collette.
“We try to focus on customers who put a priority on service,” he says. “Certainly, we experienced pricing pressures during 2007. However, most of our customers want value in liquid and dry bulk transportation.
“We give them the customized transportation service that they need, and we work with them closely to meet very exacting requirements. We'll haul just about any liquid or dry bulk cargo that a customer wants to ship, and we'll take it just about anywhere in the United States and Canada.
“We take a lot of pride in the quality of the service we provide, and we follow the Responsible Care Management System process. We track our performance on a daily basis, and we consistently achieve 99.75% error-free performance. We monitor each service failure, and we address problems immediately.”
A key strength at Tidewater Transit is its ability to take on specialized projects for customers. “For one chemical shipper, we provide on-site dispatch service, and we've begun managing all of that customer's in-plant distribution activity,” says Tom Theriault, Tidewater Transit vice-president of sales. We run a 50-car rail yard for a chemical shipper and monitor product inventories. We set up a dedicated operation in Georgia to transport and transload calcium carbonate (marble dust). We're moving 18 loads a day in that program. I believe we'll see more of these projects in the future, and we certainly want to do more with aggregates.”
Tidewater Transit owns a rail transloading site in Fayetteville, North Carolina, that it operates for the Norfolk Southern Thoroughbred Bulk Transfer (TBT) system. The carrier also operates a TBT site in Dalton, Georgia.
“We see transloading as a growth opportunity,” Theriault says. “Both of these sites are plastics oriented, but we would be willing to transload a wide range of products in the future.”
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