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2020 in hindsight: A look back at an imperfect year

Dec. 30, 2020
Familiar faces make list of top 6 most-viewed stories with media galleries on bulktransporter.com during a strange year

The past 12 months were unusual on many levels, and many industry leaders would just as soon forget the year of COVID-19.

But 2020 also saw several bulk transportation companies make big moves, and included many of the familiar storylines we’re used to following, from major acquisitions and expansions, to total reinventions and revolutionary technologies.

And a good, old-fashioned get together helps remind us we’re not alone in this strange new remote-working world.

As we enthusiastically prepare to welcome a new year, and eagerly usher out the old one, here are the top six most-viewed stories with media galleries from bulktransporter.com in 2020.

Click the headline link for the full story and images, and Happy New Year from the staff at Bulk Transporter magazine!

Trimac Transportation takes big leap

With a single fleet acquisition, Trimac Transportation became one of the largest oilfield haulers in Western Canada. Trimac’s leadership called it a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The acquisition of Gibson Energy Inc’s oilfield tank truck fleet in mid-2019 brought Trimac more than 500 tractors operated by independent contractors and roughly 1,000 trailers, including crude oil B-trains, propane B-trains, molten sulfur B-trains, and petroleum coke B-trains. Approximately 160 Gibson employees transferred to the Trimac operation, which is now named Trimac Energy Services.

Trimac paid $70 million Canadian for the fleet assets, as well as another $30 million for real estate, including the Edmonton, Alberta, field office and maintenance shop. Trimac is continuing to provide transportation services to Gibson Energy through a long-term exclusive agreement.

Quala out to revolutionize tank container cleaning

Jeff Noble and his team were looking for a way to improve upon the traditional tank cleaning process, and somehow find a way to add value for Quala and its customers, while also making an inherently dangerous job safer.

They found it on a trip to Europe—but not by listening to owners or vendors.

It wasn’t until consulting with the everyday operators using tank cleaning equipment and processes previously unseen in North America that company leaders were convinced—here was the investment they were seeking to lead their nationwide network of wash facilities, and the cleaning industry, into the future.

“We spent a full week going to different operations and talking with their folks, and we were really impressed walking away,” said Noble, Quala’s executive vice president of operations. “The team that I took in was skeptical, because you hear all the pros of the system—and we’re used to a traditional cleaning system—but once we were there, before the end of the first day, we were sold.”

ITCA reunites in Texas

Intermodal Tank Container Association (ITCA) members and sponsors once again gathered in Kemah TX for social networking, but the annual Intermodal Bulk Liquid Symposium was another COVID-19 casualty.

ITCA was established as a networking event for the intermodal bulk liquid industry. The conference held in the Houston TX area typically highlights news and trends within the intermodal industry, and business leaders from all over the world come together to collaborate with key executives representing shippers, ports, rails, truckers, depots, cleaning facilities, leasing companies, tank operators, surveying companies, ocean carriers and freight forwarders from various industry facets.

This year, with no speakers or educational opportunities, approximately 100 attendees settled for a smaller golf outing and outdoor industry reunion.

TransChem USA steadily expanding across southern United States

TransChem USA LLC continues to grow steadily as a chemical hauler with operations concentrated across the southern United States. The management team sees a good year ahead for the five-year-old tank truck carrier.

Established in 2015, the chemical carrier currently operates 45 tractors and 70 tank trailers out of terminals in Baytown, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Richburg, South Carolina (near Charlotte, North Carolina). The Baytown terminal on the east side of Houston is home base for the operation.

“While TransChem USA is a young operation, our goal is to be the best chemical hauler in the business,” says Andrew Petrofsky, TransChem USA vice-president & general manager. “This means we want to be the best carrier for our customers, the best company for our drivers, and the best representative for the motor carrier industry.”

Reinvention gives Liquid Cargo ability to respond to changing times

For more than a century, the company that evolved into the Liquid Cargo Group found success while overcoming more than a few obstacles and challenges. Not even a pandemic could stop the tank truck carrier.

Throughout the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the Liquid Cargo fleet kept rolling. The carrier kept all but a handful of its employees on the payroll and continued to meet the needs of its customers by providing the best possible transportation service.

From its headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida, and dispatch offices in East Chicago, Indiana, and Pasadena, Texas, Liquid Cargo operates nearly 40 tractors and a large variety of tank trailers to transport acids, corrosives, cleaning compounds, industrial oil chemicals, and general hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals. US Container Depot, a division of Liquid Cargo Group, provides tank cleaning at its New Jersey location and a full range of tank container depot services at depots in the northeastern and southeastern United States.

“So far, we’ve come through the pandemic in relatively good shape,” says Kevin Jackson, president of Liquid Cargo Group Inc. “One driver was diagnosed with COVID-19, and he was out sick for two weeks. Several others asked if they could park their trucks.”

Taking control: Kenan Advantage strengthens food-grade network

Kenan Advantage Group (KAG) is strengthening its presence within the bulk liquid food-grade transportation industry, and building a business capable of withstanding even the devastating impacts of a global pandemic.

Key ingredient No. 1 is the ability to pivot quickly, and meet ever-evolving needs of shippers.

“We’ve seen a lot of opportunity,” Tyler Coventry, executive vice president of KAG Food Products, said about dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. “We haven’t seen a significant downturn like other parts of the transportation network. Food Products has really been steady. We’ve actually seen quite a lot of growth throughout our network, in terms of being able to take more loads, through efficiencies and improving our network.

“The biggest thing we’ve seen is, whether you are working from home or in an office environment, you still need food.” And KAG Food Products aims to the be the carrier who makes sure those people receive it.

About the Author

BT staff