For the second time in 16 months, logistics firm Plantgistix will open a major new resin shipping center in Baytown, Texas.
The new center will open March 1. At 337,000 square feet, it's slightly larger than a similar center that the Houston-based contract packaging firm opened in Baytown in December 2017.
The new facility is needed because of massive growth in exports of resin — primarily polyethylene — from the U.S. to other parts of the world. Exports of PE from the U.S. and Canada grew by more than 5 billion pounds in 2018, according to the American Chemistry Council.
North American PE makers need export markets to absorb new capacity that they've added to capitalize on low-priced feedstocks sourced from shale gas. That's created an opportunity for Plantgistix and other logistics firms.
"I was hesitant for us to add on capacity at first, especially since we had just opened one facility," CEO Marc Levine said in a Feb. 7 interview with Plastics News. "It seems like every time an industry expands, everyone does it and then there's too much capacity."
But Levine changed his mind after talking to DowDuPont Inc. and other PE makers who've been adding capacity.
"The [PE] producers look at it as needing certainty," he explained. "It might look like there's too much today, but they're nervous about needing export packaging."
The new site is 15 minutes away from the Port of Houston — a major shipping hub — and will be equipped with two new packaging lines, boxing and 55-pound bagging, along with 84 dock doors, more than 3,000 feet of private rail spurs and daily switching services for rail cars serviced by Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway.
The new facility will boost Plantgistix's inbound hopper car capacity by at least 250-300 cars per month. The plant will be the firm's third facility, bringing its total warehouse space to more than 1.3 million square feet. The new plant represents a $30 million investment for Plantgistix and will create around 20 new jobs.
Executives with PE makers DowDuPont and Westlake Chemical, both Plantgistix customers, complimented the firm for its decision to expand. DowDuPont North America outplant leader Mark Waldmann said that Plantgistix "has been a great service provider and partner to DowDuPont and the plastic industry over the past several years."
"We are very excited about Plantgistix's recent commitment to the industry and the Baytown area by expanding their supply chain capabilities and service offerings," he added.
Westlake logistics manager Chris Anderson said in the release that Plantgistix "continually anticipates the needs of the industry and expands to ensure capacity for its customers."
Plantgistix, formerly United DC, has been working with resin makers for seven decades. The firm was one of the first in the U.S. to provide contract packaging to the plastics industry. Its history dates back to the early days of the U.S. plastics industry, when brothers Harry and Louis Levine founded injection molder Commonwealth Plastics in Leominster, Mass., in the 1930s.