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This eNewsletter is distributed to over 2,000 members of our transloading community, including 800+ shippers!


June 2021


TDANA announces new event!

  • What: Regional meeting
  • When: Oct. 18-19, 2021
  • Where: Denver 

For the first time, TDANA will offer a regional meeting in the West! Anyone can attend this half-day meeting that provides many ways to connect with new and familiar colleagues. The meeting agenda will feature executive leadership from OmniTrax, shipper perspective discussions and a focus on new technology to enhance your business. Suppliers to the transload community will be offered avenues to sponsor and exhibit. A virtual option will be offered to those who can᾿t attend in person.

Held at The Westin Denver Downtown, just minutes from Union Station, this is an event you won᾿t want to miss.

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Mark your calendars!

  • What: TDANA Annual Meeting
  • Where: The Westin Denver Downtown
  • When: April 4-6, 2022
We are excited to get back to meeting in person with our members from across North America at our Annual Meeting at The Westin Denver Downtown! Mark your calendar and keep an eye out for updates in your inbox.

Membership renewal

It᾿s time to renew your membership! Keep your membership directory listing and other TDANA benefits up to date by renewing prior to June 15. Members should have received an email reminder, or you can simply go to the membership renewal page. The process is fast and easy.

Renew Today!

Questions? Call Carrie Foor at 331-643-3369 or email at

Highlights in this edition

  • Mexico Transloading
  • New Member: TL Terminals Serves Mexico Transloading in Challenging Times

  • Member Feature: Ventura Transfer Adapts to Industry Change
  • Transloading Top 10

  • Discounted membership in Inland Rivers, Ports, and Terminals Association
  • AAR Rail Indicators Report


Mexico, U.S. transloaders celebrate growth, partnerships


Significant growth for Mexico’s transload industry has been cultivated throughout the past two decades. With limited rail assets within its borders, transloading has become a main source of origination traffic in Mexico looking to export, as well as a distribution point for import traffic. 

According to SIPSA Managing Director Xavier Zermeño, several factors contributed to this heightened demand. Shippers have shown interest in investing time and resources to convert 85% of the country’s total cargo away from truck. As one of two top trading partners, the U.S. seeks increased shipment via rail to and from its southern border. Lastly, rail’s success with reducing the carbon footprint presents an environmentally friendly shipping option.

The Mexican government’s decision to privatize railroads in the late 1990s ushered in most of these changes, diverging from the inconsistent operations of the past. Through a concession agreement, rail companies turned to terminals to take advantage of the new transportation mode. Transloading growth has persisted ever since.

Zermeño points to the partnership with Kansas City Southern as a rewarding aspect of this riveting economic period. Its Mexican affiliate exclusively serves all of its terminals. The KCSM transload network comprises 136 terminals in Mexico and handles an expansive variety of commodities.

“We go way back with them and have been great business partners and friends,” he said. “We have developed ambitious business and logistics projects together; it’s a win-win for everyone. We at SIPSA are excited about near-future options to work jointly with KCS .”

KCS AVP Corporate Communications & Community Affairs Doniele Carlson credits the company’s high volumes in Mexico to the country’s energy reform. Products such as regular and premium gasoline, diesel and LPGs need facilities with secure safety measures, a fast unloading process and high-storage capacity, which makes transloading an ideal fit for this expanding market. The Precision Scheduled Railroading strategy also works well with KCS efforts to improve its service design to align with this growth and offer the best alternative for U.S. shippers and Mexican receivers of refined fuel products.

“The railroad enjoys organic growth with its transload partners, and the U.S. and Mexico Sales personnel engage with these partners throughout the year to grow and support the business,” she said.

KCS connects with every major rail carrier in North America and continues to focus on cross-border growth by rail. Carlson referenced the addition of a second rail bridge at Laredo, Texas-Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, as a great indication of the railroad’s commitment to long-term growth in Mexico. 

“In addition to strengthening the KCS network, the second bridge will allow Union Pacific to move more freight across the highest volume rail crossing between the U.S. and Mexico today,” she said. “KCS connects the eastern U.S. and Canadian railroads to the growing Mexican economy. While many of the eastern U.S. and Canadian markets are mature and defined, KCS cross-border business continues to evolve and outperform those markets.”

Zermeño also lauded LOUP Logistics, deeming the company a formidable ally with whom they also possess a long history of serving customers in the U.S. LOUP Logistics provides the know-how and knowledge of the market, whereas SIPSA brings the infrastructure needed to receive or ship products to the Bajio region, Mexico’s industrial hearth. 

Zermeño also said TDANA membership compliments these new business ventures.

“By participating, Mexican transload companies would have great visibility to new ventures and monthly networking with American peers,” he said. “I believe a cultural change needs to happen in small to midsize companies to become involved with TDANA.”

The business surge coincides with several economic and political changes. Mexico’s government-implemented changes to rules assuring a free market availability discourage investment, and officials send mixed signals regarding commitment to free trade and environmental goals promoted by the USMCA.

On the other hand, USMCA’s higher North American content provisions will increase the amount of cross-border automotive business. Carlson explained that the USMCA is boosting productivity and trade in North America for big manufacturers, as well as creating ways for smaller players to expand their business, which positions transloaders as key players in rail logistics.
While surveillance has posed challenges for many years, independent companies such as KCS have accomplished great strides by investing in equipment, personnel training and technology that have resulted in a comparative advantage to competitors. 

“The Rule of Law poses the biggest challenge not only for terminals, but also for the whole country,” Zermeño said. “A good example is the tracks being blocked by political protestors that affected Chihuahua, Michoacán, and some other important rail nodes for Mexico for many days, without government intervention. This translates in loss of business both for the railroads and the terminals.”

Operations continue to recover from pandemic-induced disruptions. While some business segments such as auto and energy have experienced a larger hit, others like agriculture and plastics had higher volumes. Nevertheless, all terminals have been affected by workforce unavailability, which negatively impacts morale and productivity. The country’s vaccine efforts have remained inefficient and slow.

“However, all of this has sparked innovation for new, better ways to do things that we had not envisioned in the past,” Zermeño said. “We will persevere and emerge smarter, stronger, more motivated and more grateful.”


Adaptability is longtime member's specialty


Consistently demonstrating a flexible skill set and ability to adapt to needs of a constantly evolving industry, Ventura Transfer Company has earned a solid reputation with shippers for decades.

“We’re dabblers and tinkers,” Chairman and CEO Randy Clifford said. “We not only learn new ways to do something, but we also find ways to do it better.”

Founded in the 1860s, the Ventura-based company began by hauling basic dry goods commodities to and from the harbor, and offloading products onto the shore. Soon after, the company started transloading products using rail, wagons and eventually trucks, establishing an intermodal freight connection that has served the western U.S. for more than a century. With facilities in Commerce, El Centro, Long Beach, Phoenix, Tucson and Wilmington, Ventura Transfer also recently opened operations in Sparks to accommodate an auto customer’s unique needs.

Clifford expresses pride about his company’s reputation for working hard to transport intermodal containers at the surrounding ports and throughout neighboring states. Roughly 50% of services involves trucking and transloading containers, whereas the other half pertains to depot operations such as cleaning, repairing and heating. The company’s 90 employees and 40 contract drivers possess impressive expertise, he said.

“We offer much of the same operations as we did 150 years ago, just with different commodities,” Clifford said. “Because we coordinate well and have all of our resources in one place, it’s easy to work with us. We facilitate all of the steps to schedule work effectively and efficiently, which is how we’ve stayed in business more than a century.”

The late 1880s ushered in a heightened demand for bulk commodities, particularly petroleum and crude oil. Ventura Transfer catered to this need until crude oil gradually transitioned from tank containers to lines below ground. As the industry waned, markets such as chemicals, gasoline and diesel, as well as plastics gained prominence several decades later. 

“I remember seeing plastic straws for the first time in restaurants,” Clifford said. “It wasn’t uncommon to leave comments on the back of receipts, so we’d make a habit of noting we liked the straws because most of the plastic came via our company trucks.”

Realizing chemical production largely occurred not on the Western Region, but in the eastern states and was transported to California by truck, Ventura Transfer assessed its role in the booming industry. Company officials discussed how to stage its inventory to serve plastic manufacturers and similar growing businesses. The solution signaled its entrance into the modern-day transload industry.

The establishment of the Southern Pacific Railroad also created the first Long Beach terminal. The company joined with Ventura to transfer plastic pellets and powders from hopper cars to trailers, which helped it emerge as one of the industry’s major plastic transloaders.

Clifford noted how Ventura quickly acquired a reputation for conducting certain operations other companies declined. Not only did the chemical demand correlate with a growing trailer expense, but the skill set required of employees to safely transfer the product also required more commitment than what many businesses agreed to give. Ventura rose to the challenge then and maintains its prestigious reputation with various specialized operations today.

As more companies concentrated in increasingly commoditized plastics and rates declined, Ventura brainstormed ways to retain competitiveness. This happened by pursuing intermediate chemicals as a new niche, which has secured steady business for the last decade. The company transloads 80% of the chemical containers through Long Beach and Los Angeles. 

“We store 600 containers at any given time, as well as load or unload them at the ports for our customers,” Clifford said. “Moving the whole tank or vessel is a broad business that uses knowledge leveraged from extensive truck transload operations as far back as the early 1900s.”

Creativity and engineering prowess also play significant roles in this success, particularly since 1961 when Clifford’s father designed the first fully independent self-loading pneumatic trailer. Instead of two pieces of equipment for transferring, he enabled the truck engine power to siphon product out of rail cars and load into hopper trailers. This enhancement produced many economic benefits and ushered the company into its current period. 

To accommodate the newest wave of intermodal evolution, Ventura recently brought flexitanks into its expertise. The large bladder-like bag offers a low-cost solution for liquid bulk transloading and sits inside regular containers. Ventura employees acquired the necessary skills for their installation and transport, which includes carefully assessing the containers’ interiors for spots that could tear the bag.

“We do a lot of different things, but they’re all related to one another to accomplish our objectives and keep us relevant,” Clifford said. “Otherwise, we’d still be shoeing horses and repairing wagon wheels. Other experienced professionals in the industry are shocked by the complexity of our daily tasks; but for as long as we’ve been doing this, it’s second nature for us.”

He points out that this operational diversity and flexibility, in addition to taking on services others turn down, has helped the company stay competitive. In recent years, Ventura has taken on business from Mexico, as well as met environmental and safety standards for transporting hazardous chemicals.

Clifford also credits 20-plus years of TDANA membership, as well as his involvement in other transportation organizations, for his professional growth. 

“TDANA allows us to rub shoulders with railroads, see what others are doing and expand our network,” he said. “Involvement also secures our reputation in safety and industry expertise.”


Reduced IRPT membership offered to TDANA members


TDANA members receive more than 30% off membership in our partner organization: the Inland Rivers, Ports & Terminals (IRPT) Inc. We are always on the lookout for ways to help our members connect with shippers and expand their reach across the industry. This offer is one way we can provide more value to our members and help ensure their success.

Through this strategic partnership, IRPT and TDANA can expand the possibilities, capabilities, connectivity and shipping locations to shippers, owners of cargo, freight forwarders and more.

IRPT is a nationwide trade association for the country’s inland waterway, port and terminal professionals. The association advocates for the inland waterways and the industries and companies that serve and utilize our inland rivers, ports and terminals. IRPT actively engages in the daily operations, project improvements and challenges of ports and terminals, and strives to offer solutions. It also promotes the use of our nation’s rivers as the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly form of transportation.

IRPT and TDANA believe the commonalities within both associations will serve the shipping communities’ needs while increasing the visibility of our members. Both associations’ members are transload providers who need resources to grow their businesses as well as rely on association partners to help connect them with potential new customers.

TDANA members can join IRPT here or they can email IRPT’s Executive Director, Aimee Andres, for a reduced cost membership at

IRPT benefits:

  • Listing in annual directory mailed to all IRPT members and selected shippers.
  • Member-specific page on IRPT website.
  • Port/terminal facility listing on IRPT Interactive Map for transload facilities.
  • Career postings
  • Member-only information and inbox alerts to Federal Register notices, funding options, webinar library and legislation.
  • Reduced registration at annual IRPT Conference.
  • Free biannual IRPT Basin Meetings (pre- and post-COVID).
  • Free Marketing and advocacy services.
  • Using numerous platforms and through an extensive network, IRPT’s reach is far and wide.

“Inland Rivers, Ports & Terminals looks forward to serving as a resource for the TDANA members as well as providing the nation’s shippers a variety of transportation solutions,” IRPT Executive Director Aimee Andres said.


TLTerminals CEO Alejandro Rodríguez expresses gratitude for TDANA playing an important role in the company's growing contributions to and prominence in the transload industry.


TLTerminals on track for bright future


While it won't celebrate its first anniversary until September, TLTerminals already enjoys participating in and being recognized within Mexico's growing transloading industry. And its CEO, Alejandro Rodríguez, credits the company's TDANA membership, in part, for its early networking success.


"Members in Texas had already handled some of our project and thought it would be wonderful to receive support from other affiliates," he said. "We want to promote our company and network with businesses in Mexico the US and Canada."


Since its launch last fall, TLT has served customers seeking to ship various commodities such as household products, canned food, bottled water, lumber, paper, plastic products, lead, aluminum and steel.


"If it's something that can be moved by rail, we can load and unload it at our facility; it's easier to check what we can't handle instead of what we can," said Rodríguez, who brings 14 years of experience with logistics and international freight to his current position.


While working with these diverse commodities has already proven advantageous, any size companies can benefit from being served by both Class 1 Mexican railroads Ferromex (FXE) and Kansas City Southern de Mexico (KCSM). Its facility also features a +96,000-square-foot warehouse.


Regardless, TLT seeks to expand anywhere a need arises. Rodriguez predicts increased demand soon.


"Mexico and the US has a shortage of drivers and equipment, so more companies now look to rail," he said. "We let them know that although they may not have tracks at their facility, they can rely on TLT for receiving and sending because we extend our infrastructure to them."


The CEO noted their clients love the company's proximity to Mexico's railroads and any location in Mexico. He also expressed pride in the strong relationships they've fostered with FXE, KCSM, UP, BNSF, NS and CSX.


"Due to been served by both railroads, we offer a cost-effective, environmentally friendly shipping solution with a people-first customer service philosophy," he said.


Rodriguez and his colleagues plan to strategically navigate their industry's challenges, which include recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the supply chain.


"We also look forward to helping Mexico reduce its carbon footprint through partnering with our railroads."


Whether TLT supplements the transloading industry through the air, ocean, rail, intermodal or OTR operations, they are eager to obtain prominence as one of Mexico's premier service providers and connect with many outstanding companies. Rodriguez foresees TDANA playing a significant role in that process.



North American
freight-rail traffic highlights


From the AAR June 4, 2021 Rail Time Indicators report

Despite navigating strong economic headwinds during COVID-19, the rail industry now experiences recovery in many areas and produced encouraging numbers for May.

U.S. total carloads averaged 241,089 per week, a 30.4% increase from the prior year.

Last month, 18 of the 20 carload commodities tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with May 2020. These include:


16,076 carloads


Grain mill products

3,341 carloads


Food products

3,353 carloads



23,368 carloads


Petroleum & petroleum products

5,361 carloads



77,228 carloads


Lumber & wood products

3,908 carloads


Pulp &
paper products

3,167 carloads



17,180 carloads



2,886 carloads


Primary metal products

14,536 carloads


Iron &
steel scrap

5,354 carloads


Motor vehicles & parts

34,021 carloads


Crushed stone, sand & gravel

4,020 carloads


Nonmetallic minerals

1,066 carloads


Stone, clay & glass products

4,021 carloads


Waste & nonferrous scrap

2,684 carloads


All other


3,286 carloads


U.S. Commodity groups posting decreases as compared to May 2020 include:

Farm products excluding grain

166 carloads


Primary forest products

67 carloads



YTD through May 2021 compared with 2020:

U.S. total carloads were



329,416 carloads



U.S. intermodal carloads were



957,198 carloads



Canadian total carloads were



70,475 carloads



Canadian intermodal carloads were



1,344,436 carloads



Mexican total carloads were



390,990 carloads



Mexican intermodal carloads were



11,996 carloads



Transload Distribution Association of North America

PO Box 198, LaFox, IL 60147

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