CaroTrans Opens Dallas Office To Serve Growing Gulf Volumes

With its opening of a Dallas area office, neutral non-vessel-operating common carrier and ocean freight consolidator CaroTrans International is positioned to handle growth in cargo volumes through Gulf of Mexico ports.

“We do anticipate growth via the Gulf ports,” Greg Howard, global chief executive officer of Union, N.J.-based CaroTrans, told the American Journal of Transportation. “Being locally positioned in Dallas better serves the needs of the customer.”

Factors contributing to escalation of Gulf port activity, according to Howard, include the attractiveness of Houston as a South American market gateway, with lower costs and less congestion than U.S. West Coast ports; growing demand for bringing Asian cargo into a region that extends from Texas to Arkansas, Oklahoma and beyond; and increases in steamship lines’ tonnage serving the Gulf region. Such trends are seen as accelerating in conjunction with the 2014 completion of Panama Canal expansion.

The May opening of CaroTrans’ Dallas area office in Grapevine, Texas, is consistent with the NVOCC’s commitment to provide a local presence, said Howard, who noted that CaroTrans also opened its own office in Santiago, Chile, in May and plans additional U.S. office openings later this year in the Pacific Northwest and an as-yet-unannounced Midwest-Central state location.  “As an NVO, we need to go where our customers are,” Howard said. “The Dallas area office is a major feeder into Houston for less-than-container load shipments that are consolidated into containers headed for Europe, the Middle East, South America, Asia and Oceania,” he said. CaroTrans’ 13 U.S. offices also include a Houston location.

Whereas LCL still represents about 60 percent of CaroTrans’ business, full container loads have been on a rapid upswing for the firm, with FCL increasing at a pace of more than 30 percent over the past seven years, according to Howard, who termed the FCL boom “a permanent trend as opposed to a fad.”

Howard said more companies are bringing their full loads to NVOCCs, as opposed to directly to steamship lines, because of increased flexibility in service offerings without quantity commitments, higher levels of customer service and, often, better credit terms.  While CaroTrans anticipates continued heavy involvement, especially via Houston, in moves of oil well and exploratory machinery and equipment, the Dallas office will be engaged with shipments of more higher-value consumer products and equipment, according to Howard. Commodities for which documentation is being issued through the Dallas office include automotive and aircraft parts, oil well equipment, foodstuffs, restaurant equipment, lubricants, petrochemicals, footwear, finished products and raw materials, Howard said. The office also has been facilitating shipments to the Middle East of road construction equipment. (The American Journal of Transportation, June 27, 2011)