Southcoast Container Services

New startup Southcoast Container Services expands tank cleaning options in Jacksonville FL

April 6, 2016
A NEW two-bay foodgrade wash rack debuted late last year for the Jacksonville, Florida, market. The wash rack was just the beginning of a full range of offerings under development at Southcoast Container Services.

A NEW two-bay foodgrade wash rack debuted late last year for the Jacksonville, Florida, market. The wash rack was just the beginning of a full range of offerings under development at Southcoast Container Services.

The new startup occupies a prime location just inside Jacksonville’s port district. Sitting on nine acres at 1751 Marshall St, the wash rack is targeting a broad range of edibles, with a specific focus on chocolate, vegetable oils, barley malt, and sweeteners.

“We spent much of the past three years developing this project, and we are now operational,” says Robert Heistand, president of Southcoast Container Services. “It has taken some time to get the word out that we are open for business, but the effort is paying off as we move into the key foodgrade shipment time of the year. We still believe there is a strong need for more tank cleaning capacity in the Jacksonville area.

“We believe we will succeed because we have a prime location with plenty of flexibility to provide the services our clients need. We have state-of-the-art tank cleaning and wastewater treatment capabilities. Finally, we have solid financing and a management team with decades of experience in the transportation and chemical industries.

“We already have a couple of fleet tenants on the property, and we are steadily building a customer base for foodgrade cleaning. We’ll add chemical wash bays later this year. We also have the ability to add rail transload capability.”

Learning experience

For Heistand and his partner, Karl Kronquist, building Southcoast Container Services has been a true learning experience. Neither had any experience in tank cleaning, but they saw an opportunity to build a sophisticated operation to provide efficient, high-quality service.

Kronquist was working for a railcar repair business that diversified into tote cleaning with a small one-bay facility. Heistand had spent 15 years as a chemist with Dow chemical working in new business development. From there, he went on to manage a microelectronics company.

It was Kronquist who found the property in the Jacksonville port district. He says he realized immediately that it was a property with plenty of potential.

“Real estate is always about location, and that certainly was true for this property,” Kronquist says. “It falls within the port district, which makes it much easier for us to shuttle equipment to and from customers who are also located in the port district. Another benefit was the previous owner, a cement company. Leftover cement from construction jobs was used to completely pave the facility.

Office space

Other features on the property include several buildings that could be leased out as office space for fleet tenants and shops for truck and trailer maintenance providers. A rail siding is already in place and could be upgraded for transloading or tankcar cleaning. Ample space is available for tank trailer parking and to store upwards of 500 containers.

Roughly four acres are available for trailer and container parking and storage. The rail siding offers enough capacity to accommodate roughly 20 railcars for transloading.

“We had hoped to be up and running a year ago, but we had to overcome some challenges,” Heistand says. “My partner found this property in 2013, but we weren’t able to close on it until July of 2014. We didn’t get our building permits until January 2015.

“However, we’ve both been through startups. We know there will be challenges. There will be speed bumps.”

 After finding the right property, Heistand and Kronquist sought out industry experts to learn as much as they could about tank cleaning operations. “We’ve been able to obtain guidance from the best experts in the tank cleaning industry,” Kronquist says. “They have given us the resources to handle any issue.”

Expert help

Early on they met with Robbie Day at The Peacock Company Inc, a manufacturer of high pressure/low volume interior tank cleaning systems. They met Mike Boyer with Agribusiness & Water Technology Inc, a designer of wastewater treatment systems. Then came Ward Wickham, formerly with PSC, and Ralph Nappi, who built and ran the Transport Resources Jersey City, New Jersey, depot and tank wash and is now with Niagara National Corp.

“We believe the Peacock system is the best one for foodgrade tank cleaning, and Robbie has extensive industry contacts,” Heistand says. “Agribusiness & Water Technology has built approximately 40 tank wash racks and has done a lot of work on pulp and paper plants. They understand piping and plumbing for industrial facilities. Ralph Nappi is helping with business contacts.”

Importantly the industry experts recommended an experienced wash rack manager to oversee daily tank cleaning operations. Miranda McMas had already helped develop and manage two foodgrade wash racks for Prime Inc over roughly eight years. Southcoast Container Services would be her third tank cleaning startup.

McMas got her tank cleaning initiation with Savannah Kleen, a foodgrade wash rack opened by Prime Inc in 2006 in Port Wentworth, Georgia. She and a friend, Niki Bowers, were the first tank wash workers hired at Savannah Kleen. McMas later was named operations manager.

From there, she played a key role in the construction and launch of Prime’s Decatur Kleen foodgrade wash rack, which commenced operations in late 2011 in Decatur, Indiana. She served as facility manager until 2014.

“Based on the recommendations, we felt that Miranda would be a good fit for our start-up,” Heistand says. “She joined us in January 2015.”

Foodgrade rack

Drawing on their network of tank cleaning experts, the Southcoast Container Services owners developed plans for an 11,232-sq-ft wash rack with two dedicated foodgrade cleaning bays and two bays for chemical tank cleaning. The foodgrade bays are operational now, and chemical cleaning will be added as customer demand dictates.

At 26-feet wide and 72-feet long the wash bays are very worker friendly, offering plenty of room for cleaning personnel to move around tank trailers and containers during cleaning. In addition, eave height in the wash bays is 27 feet and the roll-up doors are 14 feet wide by 16 feet high.

Adding to a worker-friendly environment are ceiling-mounted 3500-watt LED light fixtures. McMas’ wash rack experience played a role in the design of the roomy workstations where tank cleaners can scrub tank hardware and fittings.

SafeRack supplied the stainless steel platform and stairs that give workers access to the tops of the tank trailers. Gangways on each side of the platform are equipped with SafeRack’s stainless steel fall protection cages.

Tank cleaning is handled by one of the largest single pass high-pressure/low-volume units built by The Peacock Company Inc. The unit was ordered with a one-micron filter to help ensure wash water purity. A Peacock pressure washer is used for exterior cleaning of tank trailers.

Wastewater from the tank cleaning process is routed to a pre-treatment system designed and built by Agribusiness & Water Technology. The system includes two 5,000-gallon holding and treatment tanks. After pre-treatment, the wastewater is released to an industrial treatment facility.

 Heistand, McMas, and Kronquist are the tank cleaners at this time, which has given them a solid familiarity with the wash rack equipment and an opportunity to tweak the operating procedures. More wash rack staff will be added as cleaning volumes increase.   ♦