U.S. Container Depot is pursuing two projects that will enable further growth and better protect customers’ tank containers.
In Savannah, Georgia, the container services company recently secured two additional properties totaling approximately 5 acres on Sonny Perdue Drive, right down the road from its current 4-acre facility, giving it a total of 9 acres in the region. And in Newark, New Jersey, the company is improving its yard through multiple phases, starting with the construction of a fully enclosed loaded container pad for safer storage and containment.
“We are excited to share these big steps forward for U.S. Container, and look forward to continuing to grow with (customers) in all three of our current markets: New York/New Jersey; Savannah; and Jacksonville, Florida,” the company informed customers in a recent update.
The two new properties include a 2-acre yard that will be used for tractor and chassis staging and parking, and a 3-acre yard that will feature empty container storage, and an ISO tank service center for maintenance and repair services. Combined with the company’s existing 4-acre yard for loaded and empty container storage and heating, U.S. Container expects to increase storage capacity by 1,350 containers, bringing total capacity in the Savannah market to approximately 2,250 containers, the company said.
“Savannah has been an ever-growing market for U.S. Container Depot since we started providing ISO tank services back in 2014,” Kevin Jackson, president of U.S. Container and Liquid Cargo, told Bulk Transporter. “Just prior to COVID we hit a high of nearly 500 containers in our facility. Obviously, things took a turn during COVID, and our storage numbers slid backward, but starting in 2021 through today, we have seen a steady climb.
“We currently store over 900 containers and have no space left to support the needs of our customers. When you find yourself having to turn away business from customers that have supported you for years, you have one of two options: One, stop growing, or two, go out and find a way. As a team, we went out and found a way.
“Working with our real estate advisor of the last 10 years, Jason Marzano, principal at PRE Real Estate Services, we found two new sites being developed just down the street from our current facility. While these sites are not all connected, they are within a short distance of each other and allow us to spread out the truck traffic.”
Jackson said previous owners already were upgrading the facilities for use, so now he’s only waiting for final permits from the city. He expects to begin using the first property by the end of the September, and the second by the end of October.
“This expansion should help establish U.S. Container Depot as the premier service provider in the Savannah region,” Jackson said. “I believe we will have the largest combined facility in the region at 9 acres, and will be one of only a few providers who are dedicated solely to the servicing of ISO tank containers.”
In addition, Jackson says the companies have grown their driving force by 28% this year, thanks to the efforts of Lisa Armstrong, recruitment manager for U.S. Container and Liquid Cargo, and a recent change to how drivers are compensated. Now all company drivers are paid by the hour, with overtime after 40 hours each week, he said.
“This rewards all our team that wants to work hard and put in the hours, but even those that can only put in a 40-hour week are well-compensated with wages at the top of the market,” he said.
Phase 1 of U.S. Container’s yard improvement project includes erecting a 9,614-square-foot, fully enclosed loaded container pad for secondary containment, eliminating vehicle traffic in the storage and containment area, the company said.
“U.S. Container Depot is about providing the safest and highest-valued service to its customers,” Jackson said. “While this project may result in an overall reduction of total containers that we can store in New Jersey, it will provide a safer, more secure environment for our customers’ containers, reducing risk and potential damage to the containers.”
Phase I is expected to be completed by the end of September.
The project was made possible by U.S. Container’s previous purchase of multiple reach stackers, allowing it to eliminate vehicle entry- and exit-ways. Along with protecting the containers from any yard traffic, the new 38-foot-by-253-foot concrete slab will better support containers inside a 1-foot-high wall, Jackson said.
“Reach stackers allow us to stack four containers per column by being able to reach over the first row to pick up a container in the second row,” he said. “By having access from both sides, we can have four rows of containers within the containment area. The value of these reach stackers is that they work outside the containment area, so that a container inside the containment area is protected from all vehicle traffic, including the stackers.”
Phase 2 involves installing a product transfer pad and containment area, the third phase involves expanding the company’s containment and safety area to allow for greater loaded storage, and the fourth phase includes laying a foundation for an improved pressure test and container testing facility at its Joseph Street location, Jackson explained.
“Site improvement has always been a goal of U.S. Container Depot at all of our facilities,” he concluded.
“We were waiting to secure our location in the Newark port for a long period of time before we invested heavily in site improvements. In July, we secured a 20-year lease on our facility and put in motion New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection-approved containment plans to improve the safety and security of our storage facility.”