It pays to be diverse in transportation and to build lasting relationships with Customers: A new joint project between Watco Terminal Port Services and Watco Supply Chain Services that’s already producing activity and revenue has roots in a collaborative project back in 2013.
Commercial Manager Ryan Krull (WTPS) already had a relationship with a Customer and had stayed in close contact. When the Customer had a need that Branch Manager Shane Morris (WSCS) could service, Krull put them in touch.
“They were looking to ship by rail, but the timing didn’t work out, and we saw the opportunity to bring the Supply Chain side in,” Krull said. “As a result, we’ve successfully been awarded multiple lanes.”
The product? Yak Mats — wooden mats, each made of 6×6 and 8×8 square pieces of lumber bolted together, that can be connected to form a “roadway” of sorts on a large construction site such as a pipeline project.
Their purpose? To allow heavy machinery to more easily navigate across the terrain without damaging it or creating erosion.
“These mats can provide several miles worth of roads, in and out of sites, wherever they need big cranes and equipment to go,” Morris said.
Yak Mat manufactures and sources them, and Watco provides the transportation. With their size, that’s a challenge.
“They are 18 feet long, 8 feet wide, and each unit weighs about 3,500 pounds,” Morris said.
But Watco is up to the challenge, loading 17 of them onto a truck at a time, with 600 to 700 truckloads a month — or 30 a day.
“They’re a vital part of the project — without the mats, they aren’t able to get the equipment to where it needs to be,” Morris said.
Watco is working with the Customer to establish a distribution network within our terminals and ports facilities to give them nationwide distribution, enabling them to be stored and loaded at many different points.
This wasn’t Watco’s first experience at serving the Customer. In 2013, the WTPS traveled to Cherryvale daily from July through January 2014 to unload crane mats off of railcars, store them at the Cherryvale Mechanical Shop, and deliver them by truckload to Independence, for what was then called Dixie Mats. The project then was a pipeline being built from the midway point in Missouri to Cushing, Oklahoma.
All told, they unloaded 300 cars of 20,000 mats, inbound on the Kansas City Southern Railway to Pittsburg and then via the South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad to Cherryvale.
At the time, Terminal Manager Adam Hanson predicted: “The ability to touch one Customer with several of our services helps build the relationships for future projects.”