Cross-border heavy-haul products keep getting bigger and bigger, said Ernesto Gaytan Jr., general manager of Laredo, Texas-based carrier Super Transport International (STI).
The revenue potential for companies willing to take on the bigger projects required to move the specialized freight (overweight/oversize) can also be much greater.
"You can do well with specialized transportation, but it takes a lot of work, a lot of planning," Gaytan said.
STI has moved everything from entire factories, massive wind turbine blades, and building-sized industrial biotrickling filters.
The coronavirus pandemic slowed down the heavy hauling specialized trucking segments, but Gaytan Jr. said business has been picking up again.
"Most of our stuff comes out of Mexico. There has been a considerable decrease
for us on the specialist side, but I would say it's coming back now," Gaytan said.
Gaytan added that they are also seeing an uptick in dry van loads and other types of loads.
"It's still starting to pick up; we do see a significant rise in freight rates in the number of loads and what's being offered. But at the same time, we're still not at the level of 2018. But we do see a resurgence starting," Gaytan said.
Laredo is seeing an increase in outbound tender market share as freight volumes have climbed over the last 30 days, according to FreightWaves SONAR platform.
Laredo is currently producing about 0.15% of all the freight out of 135 markets. While 0.15% doesn't sound like much, a month ago Laredo was registering more inbound freight than outbound. (SONAR: OTMS.LRD)
STI was founded by Gaytan's father, Ernesto Gaytan Sr., around 1990 in Laredo.
Several years earlier, Gaytan Sr. founded Super Transporte Internacional in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Gaytan Sr. started the company with one truck, hauling specialized heavy loads across Mexico.
"We're unique in that we actually started in the specialized transportation business, so we have experience with specialized loads for over 25 years," Gaytan Jr. said.
Today, they operate as two companies, but often combine and share equipment. STI has a fleet of around 500 vehicles and offers everything from regular dry van service to expedited and specialized transportation services in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
"We can borrow equipment across our two companies. We can load something very heavy with one of our specialized trailers in Mexico, and it can go all the way to the U.S. or Canada," Gaytan said. "So in the same trailer, instead of doing cross-docking or a lot of things that happen here in Laredo, we are one of the few companies that can do door-to-door service straight through."
One of the most recent hauls was moving energy sector equipment from Huehuetoca, Mexico, to Lubbock, Texas. The trailer used had 16 axles and 110 tires. The load weighed 426,140 pounds.
Gaytan Jr. said Texas State Troopers had to come certify the weight of the truck.
"We had to have 15 different state troopers from Texas, individually weigh each axle. They were there to make sure that the weight was correct and we weren't going over on the axles per weight," Gaytan Jr. said.
STI has worked with everyone from automaker General Motors to Montreal, Canada-based aircraft and train manufacturer Bombardier.
"We have projects like that going all over the country, especially in the energy industry. We move transformers and other big stuff all the way to Montana, and some smaller stuff, all the way to Prince Edward Island (in eastern Canada)," Gaytan Jr. said.
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