Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Texas Trucking Association appoints Ernesto Gaytán Jr. as chairman; Saddle Creek to open new distribution center in Texas; CFI reports four years of accident-free operations in Laredo; and 11 tractors destroyed by a fire at Texas plant.
Ernesto Gaytán Jr. is the new chairman of the Texas Trucking Association
Ernesto Gaytán Jr. brings more than 20 years of experience to his new role as chairman of the Texas Trucking Association (TXTA).
Gaytán, general manager of Laredo, Texas-based Super Transport International (STI), succeeds Jonathan Kennemer as chair of TXTA. His term runs from July 2021 to July 2022.
Gaytán brings 20 years of experience in the trucking industry.
“I am very honored to be the first Hispanic, first Mexican American and Latino to be named chairman, it really shows that TXTA is a diverse organization and has different members from many different types of places,” Gaytán, 37, told FreightWaves.
In addition to being the first Hispanic, Gaytán is also the youngest person and the first person from Laredo to chair TXTA.
“This puts Laredo on the map too. We never had anybody from Laredo serve as chair, even though Laredo is one of the most important ports in the U.S.,” Gaytán said.
TXTA was founded in 1932 and is based in Austin, Texas. It’s one of the oldest and largest trucking associations in the U.S.
TXTA’s aim is to enhance the effectiveness of its members by advocating for public policies, along with providing education, training and information about commercial truck transportation issues across Texas.
Trucks play an important role in the Texas economy. Over $1.6 trillion and 1.2 billion tons of freight are moved through Texas by trucks annually, according to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
Trucks move over 50% of all freight across the Lone Star State. By 2040, truck tonnage will increase by 78% and account for 56% of all freight moved, according to TxDOT.
Gaytán grew up working in the trucking industry with his father, Ernesto Gaytán Sr., who founded Super Transporte Internacional in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, in 1988. Today, Super Transporte Internacional and STI operate as two companies along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Gaytán Jr. said he’s been part of TXTA for about 8 years. He started around 2011, when he participated in TXTA’s youth committee, along with the organization’s Emerging Leaders Council.
“They started the council for people under 40, and it’s still going on right now,” Gaytán Jr. said. “It’s really awesome to see that young people are taken into consideration at TXTA and even more importantly, that you now have a chairman that came out of the council.”
Gaytán Jr. said he has several objectives such as continuing to advocate against abusive litigation aimed at the trucking industry, as well as finding solutions for driver shortages and promoting the need for better road infrastructure across Texas.
On Sept. 1, Texas House Bill 19 (HB 19) goes into effect. The legislation will regulate plaintiffs’ cases where commercial vehicles are involved.
“[HB 19] was one of our biggest goals last year, it was a big win for us,” Gaytán Jr. said.
The next step is to focus on how personal injury cases involving commercial vehicle crashes are financed.
“We’re going to continue looking at lawsuit abuse with the financing of a lot of these cases against trucking companies,” Gaytán Jr. “Some of these cases are financed by people almost as a for-profit business.”
Gaytán Jr. said he will also focus on driver shortages affecting both long haul and local trucking positions.
There are around 2 million truck drivers across the country making an average annual salary of $47,130, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“The driver shortage is a big problem for the U.S. and Texas. We’re seeing a lot of people move into Texas, which means there’s more need for trucking more goods,” Gaytán Jr. said.
Gaytán Jr. said TXTA needs to keep spreading the word that trucking is a good job and is something that a lot of people can do with starting pay between $40,000 to $50,000.
“Third on my list of big things is infrastructure. We want to look for better ways to fund infrastructure, which is needed, but not on the back of one industry,” Gaytán Jr. said. “The trucking industry is only 6% of the total traffic in Texas, the rest are cars and vehicles. We want to look for better ways to fund our roads, make sure they are taken care of in a way that’s equitable with everyone paying their part.”
Saddle Creek to open new distribution center in Texas
Saddle Creek Logistics Services announced Thursday plans for an 864,000-square-foot distribution center in Fort Worth, Texas.
Company officials said the distribution center will support significant growth that is occurring in the warehousing industry. It is scheduled to open by the end of the year.
“We’re seeing incredible demand for centrally located distribution facilities that are equipped to accommodate growing order volume,” Bobby Hays, Saddle Creek’s regional vice president of operations, said in a statement.
Lakeland, Florida-based Saddle Creek is a third party logistics provider that offers supply chain solutions for B2B and B2C companies.
The facility will be Saddle Creek’s fifth in Texas and second in Fort Worth. The company has 53 facilities across 16 states.
“Fort Worth is a prime location for expansion because it is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, it’s also conveniently situated for efficient, cost-effective transportation. Many U.S. markets can be reached in two days or less via ground service,” Hays said.
CFI reports four years of accident-free operations in Laredo
CFI, an operating company of TFI International, recently announced the maintenance associates of its Laredo, Texas, service center have surpassed four years of accident-free operations.
It’s the longest streak of accident-free safety performance by a service center in CFI’s 75-year history, the company said in a release.
“Anyone who has ever worked in equipment maintenance knows that there is the potential for a lapse in safety focus virtually every minute of every day,” Greg Orr, CFI’s president, said in a statement. “For our Laredo team to go an entire four years without a safety incident is a remarkable achievement.”
CFI’s Laredo facility is one of the company’s busiest centers, officials said. It sits on 40 acres with eight bays for trailer inspections and repairs, inspecting on average 3,520 trailers per month, or 120 a day.
The facility is CFI’s gateway for cross-border truckload freight shipments between Mexico and the U.S. It processes 43,000 of CFI’s 60,000 annual cross-border shipments.
11 tractors destroyed by a fire at Texas plant
A fire at the Poly-America manufacturing plant in Grand Prairie, Texas, Thursday destroyed 11 tractors parked at the facility.
According to the Grand Prairie Fire Department, the fire at the plastic plant began before dawn. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation. No injuries were reported.
Hazmat crews responded to the scene to clean up diesel fuel.
Thursday’s fire is at the same plant that caught fire on Aug. 18, 2020. No official cause for the first fire has been disclosed.
More articles by Noi Mahoney