Intermodal Cartage Sees 30 Years of Steady Growth

From the Memphis Daily News –

Founded by Mark George in Memphis with one truck driver in 1982, Intermodal Cartage Co. Inc. has grown steadily for nearly 30 years and now has locations in 26 cities nationwide.

With a gross annual income hovering around $150 million, IMCG now employs more than 1,100 workers.

IMCG presently owns seven operating companies. Five of those are trucking companies, and two are maintenance and repair companies that specifically repair ocean-carrier containers and chassis.

The company is a provider of intermodal transportation services, and its main focus is international shipments – servicing import and export cargo. When George launched his business, containerized shipments over the Memphis gateway were just beginning to evolve.

“Most trucking companies in town didn’t want to deal with going in and out of the railroads and picking up containerized shipments,” George said. “They didn’t like dealing with U.S. Customs (and Border Protection), and none of the ocean carriers had offices here in the U.S.”

By meeting a service need, George took advantage of what turned out to be an opportunity of enormous proportions. Being in Memphis – which embraced the slogan of “America’s Distribution Center” and later “America’s Aerotropolis” – certainly helped out, as well.

IMCG is still growing, and under the current business plan, George expects to double in size every five years. So far, that has happened.

“It’s my vision to see our company reach $1 billion in sales,” George said.

Beyond being in the right place at the right time, a number of factors played into his success, including his employees.

“(Success) had a lot to do with getting the right leadership on board in our company – the right employees,” George said. “I’ve also been blessed with some good clients that have been very supportive of building our company.”

Though the economy has struggled with little gross domestic product during the recession, the demand for trucking services is still relatively high, George said. As a result, IMCG grew by 25 percent in 2011.

The demand for trucking services remains strong with little or slow growth in the economy, but when the economy starts to heat up, a shortage of drivers could loom ahead.

“A shortage of truck drivers would affect everybody,” George said. “It would affect the cost of goods being transported – things like clothes and food. A truck transports those things at some point. So, I think we are in a good position for when the economy has any decent growth at all. The demand for our services will be really high.”

Though George is not the face of the company anymore, most of his time is spent in conference rooms with the presidents of each of his operating companies, defining vision and strategy.

“I’m their biggest cheerleader,” George said. “They’re on the front line, and I’m kind of in the back room coaching.”

IMCG takes stringent steps to maintain container security. Its 165-acre facility on East Holmes Road is equipped with security checkpoints, surrounded by an electric fence, and every load is locked.

“Security is very important to us,” said Katie Hooser, who handles the company’s business development. “We want to make it so difficult to compromise our security that anyone who was considering taking something would just go someplace else where it would be easier. There are all kinds of things in the containers, and they’re valuable to our wide range of clients. First and foremost, we want to look out for the best interests of our customers.”

In the spotlight – Katie George Hooser

From the Memphis Business Journal –

BIOGRAPHY

Age: 26

Hometown: Memphis

Education: Hutchison School, Emory University, and pursuing MBA at Christian Brothers University

First job: My first job was at Intermodal Cartage. I started during the summers when I was 13 years old filling lots of paperwork!

Family: I have been married for three years to my husband, Andrew Hooser

What do you do: I handle sales for IMCG’s Memphis region and manage IMC Cos.’ public relations and marketing efforts. I am also the upcoming 2012 president of the Memphis World Trade Club.

TRUE CONFESSIONS

Like best about job: The great relationships I have with so many of our customers. I have been very lucky in my career to have many people support and help me to be successful.

Like least about job: Capacity restrictions

Pet peeve: Arrogance

Most important lesson learned: Change is the only real constant. Particularly in the transportation industry, it is important to anticipate and proactively adapt to meet market needs.  

Person most interested in meeting: The late Malcolm McLean who was the “father of containerization.” He started as a trucker!

Most respected competitor: TCW

Career goals: To make IMC Cos. The most respected brand in our industry. I am so proud of IMC Cos. And everything we have accomplished since we were founded in 1982. I want everyone to see our company the way I do.

First choice for a new career: Artist

PREDILECTIONS

Favorite quote: “Stay the course.” – George Bush and often repeated by my dad, Mark George

Most influential book: The Bible

Favorite cause: Agape Child and Family Services

Favorite status symbol: An old Intermodal Cartage sweatshirt. It’s from the ‘90s!

Favorite movie: “True Grit”

Favorite restaurant: West Street Diner

Favorite vacation spot: Turks and Caicos

Favorite way to spend free time: I love spending time outside. Right now, Andrew and I are growing a pumpkin patch. That has been a lot of fun!

Favorite stress reducers: Running

Favorite musicians: Matt Maher, Chris Tomlin, Miranda Lambert

Automobile: Acura TL

WHAT DO YOU KNOW?

How are local companies adjusting to the new CSA 2010 regulations?

Intermodal Cartage has always gone out of its way to hire the safest and most reliable fleet of drivers. I support any regulations that encourage other companies to do the same.

That being said, it is estimated that CSA will take out between 5 to 8 percent of drivers from our industry. Because the available driver pool is already small, this reduction in capacity could cause real problems. To be successful, trucking companies must find ways to help their drivers be compliant with the new regulations, as we are.

Our safety department and operations group meet with drivers individually to address any issues that affect their scores. We have found that something as simple as giving our drivers special folders to help organize their insurance paperwork can help them be better prepared for an inspection. It’s a learning process and we want our drivers to be ahead of the curve.

Logistics experts travel more than 6,000 miles to see how a distribution center works

From the Commercial Appeal –

Georgia was on George Doborjginidze’s mind Friday as a tour bus slowly cruised a southeast Memphis depot crammed with ocean shipping containers, truck chassis and tractors.

Not the Peach State, but the former Soviet republic of Georgia, where Doborjginidze is helping develop an intermodal freight yard similar to three that dot the Memphis landscape.

Chairman of the Georgian Logistics Association and managing director of TLC Property Management LLC, Doborjginidze was among 18 logistics professionals from the former Soviet Union visiting key Memphis links in the global supply chain.

The group, hosted by the University of Memphis Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute, spent three days in the city under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Special American Business and Internship Training program.

They toured the FedEx world hub, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Memphis Intermodal Facility, Canadian National Railway hump yard and Mallory Alexander International Logistics.

The group spent a couple of hours at the 160-acre southeast Memphis compound of Intermodal Cartage Group, which handles and transports shipping containers for international imports and exports.

Georgia, the country, sounded sort of like Memphis the way it was described by Doborjginidze and Gogita Gvenetadze, acting head of transport policy for the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.

Situated between Russia and Turkey, it occupies a central position on land shipping routes between Asia and Europe. Gvenetadze said the country’s railroads transport 3.3 million people and 22 million tons of cargo annually, with much of the cargo going somewhere else.

“After studying the intermodal infrastructure here, we want to establish centers in our country,” Gvenetadze said.

Doborjginidze’s company is developing an intermodal facility in Tbilisi, the capital. He said, “The purpose of our trip is to meet with the leading U.S. companies in transportation and logistics sectors, to get a feeling how they are organized and to see how the businesses are operated.”

Memphis is worth studying because of its five major railroads, state-of-the-art intermodal yards and world-class distribution companies like FedEx. Also on the itinerary: New York, New Jersey, Greensboro, N.C., Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

“Our mission is to improve the education of our community about intermodal freight, and this is improving that education,” said Sean Ellis, associate director and business manager for the U of M center. “They spoke to our students yesterday about the challenges in their countries.”

Ellis added, “Really, it’s a good-will thing for us.”

Mark George has long-haul career in transportation with IMC

From the Memphis Business Journal

George was born and raised in Franklin, Tenn. In 1982, he and his wife, Melinda, moved to Memphis to start Intermodal Cartage Co. Since then, George has watched the transportation and logistics industry develop and worked to position his company ahead of the growth curve. George founded IMC Companies LLC in 2009 and currently serves as chairman of the group. What started with one truck and one driver has grown to more than 750 trucks, 125 maintenance and repair vehicles and more than 1,000 employees across the country. He and Melinda have been married for 29 years and have four children.

First job: The only job I’ve ever had is Intermodal Cartage Co.

Education: Attended undergraduate school at the University of Memphis

Residence: Memphis

Business philosophy: What gets measured gets managed

Best way to keep competitive edge: Continually reinvest in your business

Guiding principle: Stay focused

Yardstick of success: When I see people who work for me succeed and become owners of and leaders of their organizations

Goal yet to be achieved: To surpass $1 billion in annual sales

Best business decision: At age 21, deciding that international shipments would be my total career focus

Worst business decision: Worst business decision sounds catastrophic. I guess I’m lucky and I can’t think of any “worst business decision” that I’ve made.

Toughest business decision: Terminating an employee who was putting in effort, but simply didn’t have the skill set to succeed in this industry.

Biggest missed opportunity: Not taking the IMC brand national sooner. We have been a national player for some time, but remained under the radar until recently.

Mentor: My father

Word that best describes you: Opportunist

Like best about job: Making money

Like least about job: Losing money

Pet peeve: Sloppy work environment

Most important lesson learned: Relationships are key. Treat people the way you expect to be treated.

Person most interested in meeting: God

Most respected competitor: Container Port Group, Cleveland Ohio

Three greatest passions: Family, outdoors, business

First choice for a new career: Airplane pilot

Favorite quote: “The only thing that doesn’t change is changes itself.”

Most influential book: The Bible

Favorite cause: Agape Child & Family Services and the American Heart Association

Favoriate status symbol: My four children

Favorite move: “Shawshank Redemption”

Favoriate restaurant: Mel’s Kitchen

Favorite vacation spot: The Caribbean

What’s on your iPod: Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Bread

Favorite way to spend free time: Hunting, vacationing in the Caribbean and spending time with my wife and children

Automobile: GMC Yukon Denali

What opportunties exist in Asia for Memphis’ distribution and logistics firms?

From the Memphis Business Journal –

Jim Covington
Vice president of logistics
and aerotropolis development
Greater Memphis Chamber

FedEx has generated a three-hub strategy which is very enticing from the Asian standpoint because they’ve chosen Guangzhou as the hub for Asia. We’re working with Guangzhou to jointly look for leads for our businesses. If there is a business in Guangzhou which uses FedEx and doesn’t have an operation in Memphis, we’re trying to find out who they are and put them together with potential opportunities here. The same happens in reverse. If we have someone who’s interested in going to Asia, we would want to put them together with the Guangzhou people. It’s something we’ve been working on for some time. We did a similar formal agreement with Paris and we want to work out one with Guangzhou as well.

Katie George Hooser
Business development
IMC Cos.

Memphis’ infrastructure allows our city to have interconnectivity to Asia that provides important opportunities for our distribution and logistics firms. That interconnectivity is made possible by our unique ability to efficiently handle air freight shipments and our five Class 1 railroads. OOCL, a Hong Kong-based container shipping company, is Intermodal Cartage’s largest customer in the Memphis area. We transport hundreds of containers for OOCL a week. The majority of that freight is imports from Asia delivering to warehouses all over the Mid-South.

Richard McDuffie
COO
Dunavant Enterprises Inc.

There continues to be an opportunity to expand in logistics due to overall economic global growth. In the U.S., according to recent reports, the third- and fourth-party logistics (3PL and 4PL) markets continue to grow ahead of the overall global economy; however, the growth opportunities for international 3PL and 4PL companies are more robust. Wage pressures and fuel costs are beginning to have an impact, but with many products, there are still chances to source product and import into Europe and the U.S. At the same time, exports will continue to feed the growth in capitalism that is occurring in Asian markets. We feel some keys to delivering results in these areas include having the right business personnel to execute strategies; ensuring your customer contracts have limited liability exposure; and understanding all credit or currency risks involved.

Tina Newman
COO
Mallory Alexander International Logistics

Free Trade Agreement, a dollar favorable to exports, Japan’s devastation and the robust economic growth of many Asian countries contribute positively to the strength of the Memphis transportation community. As most are aware, U.S. cotton had a record year, and moving forward, we anticipate sustained growth in agricultural products, as well as plastics, chemicals, automotive and consumer goods. Key initiatives of near-product warehousing at both origin and destination, together with supply chain technology, will continue to provide the Asian continent increased visibility to the value of Memphis as a global logistics partner.

Do you know?

From The Post and Courier

Jeffrey Banton

BIRTH DATE AND PLACE: September 1963, Memphis, Tenn.

RESIDENCE: Daniel Island.

OCCUPATION: President of Atlantic Intermodal Services on Clements Ferry Road.

FAMILY: Wife, Debra; children, Blake, 17, and Rachel, 13; and dog Bennie, 4.

EDUCATION: University of Memphis, where I studied transportation and logistics.

TALENTS/HOBBIES: Fishing, running and exercising.

BIGGEST ISSUE FACING CHARLESTON COUNTY: The planning of the transportation infrastructure pertaining to the new port in Charleston.

IN MY SPARE TIME: I go to my kids’ sporting events.

IF I KNEW TODAY WERE MY LAST DAY ON EARTH I WOULD: Be with my family at church!

SOMETHING IMPORTANT LIFE HAS TAUGHT ME: The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary. A good work ethic, persistency and passion will lead to success.

I AM MOST PROUD of: A solid family and a strong business.

BEST CHILDHOOD MEMORY: Family camping, canoeing trips.

PEOPLE I ADMIRE MOST: Self-motivators. People who overcome major setbacks, yet still reach their goals.

EAST COOPER NEEDS: More vessels calling the port.

IF I COULD CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE WORLD TODAY: One person can’t change the world, but leading by a good example can start a positive trend.

Intermodal mogul; Trucking company entrepreneur sought out small business to build freight company

From the Charleston Regional Business Journal –

Business started out slow for Atlantic Intermodal Services – even back in the heady shipping days of 2006 and 2007 – when Jeff Banton launched the Charleston based turcking company.

In retrospect, Banton’s slow start turned out to be good fortune.

After moving from Memphis, Tenn., where he was vice president of Intermodal CartageCo., to open the company, Banton spent the first couple of years trying to carve out a share of the drayage market locally and around the Southeast.

Many of his larger competitors had a hold on the shipping lines and heavy-volume customers. When Banton would make a sales pitch to those customers, all too often he got a smile and a handshake, but no deal.

So Banton instead focused on seeking out smaller customers. He worked with their brokers and freight forwarders and earned referrals within that industry.

“These guys may only ship three or four containers a month, but it’s everything to them,” Banton said.

Then the recession hit. Some of Banton’s larger and more established competitors saw their business tumble along with the volume of freight moving into and around the region. But with fewer and smaller customers, Banton did not have far to fall.

“Sometimes you make your best decisions when you have no other choice,” he said.

Other time, as his base of truck drivers grew, Banton said he was able to gain business from some larger customers as well. Early on, Atlantic Intermodal Services served about 15 total customers per week, he said. Now it serves about 60 or 70.

Banton’s career in transportation started in college when he worked for FedEx, which is headquartered in Memphis, his hometown. As a load master, his role was to calculate the center of gravity for FedEx aircraft based on the freight on board. Pilots used the information in setting flight paths, he said.

Banton said he found the work exciting and saw career potential in the transportation industry.

“I was alwasy interested in how something got from one place to another,” he said.

After graduating from the University of Memphis with a degree in logisitics, Banton continued working for FedEx until 1997, when he shifted his focus from small packages to international cargo and went to work for Intermodal Cartage Co.

In late 2005, Banton said he had the opportunity to move farther South and open Atlantic Intermodal Services as his own company under the umbrella of Intermodal Cartage Co. Banton said that relationship gives customers a broader network- about 850 trucks – while allowing his company to react with the agility of a smaller operation.

To start his company, Banton acquired existing facilities in Charleston, Savannah and Atlanta. Last year, he expanded to Jacksonville, Fla., and Charlotte.

Starting out, Banton could have located his headquarters in Charleston, Savannah, or Atlanta – the locations of the existing facilities he bought. Charleston was the obvious choice at the time.

“Back in 2005, Charleston was king of the ports, and it only made sense to move into Charleston,” Banton said. “And besides, it’s beautiful.”

In subsequent years, however, Charleston lost its crown as Savannah took away market share. Banton said that Atlantic Intermodal Services’ facility in Savannah became the catalyst for the company’s growth.

“The good news is that today’s leadership at the port (of Charleston) is reversing the trend, and Charleston is coming back pretty strong.” Banton said

With facilities in Charleston, Savannah and Jacksonville, Banton said he is ready for the increased shipping business expected on the East Coast once the expanded Panama Canal opens in the next few years. He’s hoping that port officials in Charleston and Savannah find the federal dollars needed to deepen their harbors to accommodate the larger ships.

“Everybody says the harbors need deepening,” Banton said, “Yeah, they do – both Charleston and Savannah.”

When the larger Panama Canal opens, Banton said the real competition won’t be between those port cities, despite current political wrangling.

“It’s going to be East Coast versus West Coast at that time,” he said.

Memphis cartage company springs for big inventory of triaxle chassis

From the Commercial Appeal –

Intermodal Cartage is jockeying for advantage in its niche of the Memphis transportation market by adding capacity to move heavier shipping containers.

The unit of Memphis-based IMC Companies recently bought 50 triaxle chassis for $1.25 million to augment service at area intermodal rail yards.

The purchase gives the company about 65 triaxles, which provide more efficient transportation options for customers by carrying heavier containers legally, said Katie George Hooser, business development manager.

The upgrade comes at a time when a push is on to increase U.S. exports. Agricultural commodities grown in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi are a big export item and prime candidate for the new triaxles.

Triaxle chassis can improve efficiency and reduce emissions for transportation companies, though heavier loads have been criticized for putting more stress on roads.

“I would say that anything we can do that can increase the productivity of drayage or inter- or intra-city truck travel would be a good thing, provided it doesn’t come with an added cost to maintain the road system,” said Marty Lipinski, director of the Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute at the University of Memphis.

Intermodal Cartage, founded by Hooser’s father, Mark George, has 325 drivers at terminals in Memphis, Nashville, Dallas and Kansas City. It specializes in drayage, or movement of shipments in and out of railroad yards and ports.

“It’s a big investment for us,” Hooser said. “It’s exciting because we’ve been needing them for a long time,” she added.

“We just found out there was a need for that, and customers were looking for triaxles to handle overweight freight. We handle a lot of agricultural products, especially in Arkansas, and I think the number of those we’re handling has increased. Those sometimes are heavier shipments and may need a specialized chassis.”

A regular chassis with two axles can handle about 39,000 pounds. A triaxle, which has a third axle, can handle a container weighing about 47,000 pounds, or 20 percent heavier. The chassis, purchased from Pratt Industries, include 35 for 20-foot containers and 15 that handle either 20- or 40-foot containers.

“They’re red because we’ve changed all of our logos, we’ve changed our identity, and we want that to be reflected in everything we do,” Hooser said.

The company plans to use the new chassis primarily in the Memphis market, hauling containers to and from the five Class 1 railroads with intermodal facilities here: Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Canadian National, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.

Growing Freight Success in DFW; Harrison Hoof, Vice President of Intermodal Cartage, has evolved with the freight industry

From the Dallas Business Journal

Mowing lawns at a young age, Harrison Hoof learned his first lessons in business and work ethic from his father. Originally from Memphis, Tenn., Hoof graduated from the University of Memphis with the goal of becoming a stockbroker, but saw an opportunity in the transportation industry and hopped on board. Hoof, 52, took a big step to move to Texas and now works with Intermodal Cartage as vice president. Hoof has been in the industry for almost 30 years and maintains a unique passion for his work and his coworkers. Outside of work, Hoof is a family man. He takes pride in his daughters Pamela and Kimberly and has been married to his wife Alycia for 25 years.

WHAT IS INTERMODAL CARTAGE? Intermodal Cartage (IMCG) is an affiliate of IMC, and we have offices in Nashville, Memphis, Dallas, Haslett and Kansas City. What we do is handle international containers. We handle imports and exports from the United States and other countries such as Asia.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB? I had my first job at age 10. My father and I would cut this yard every week and he would give me all the money. He was building a work ethic in me, and every time I look back at that I smile. That was a good thing, and he would do it with me. That was one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life. Only problem is I don’t have a boy, so I can’t do my daughters like that.

DESCRIBE A LEARNING EXPERIENCE FROM EARLY IN YOUR CAREER? I was a manager at Pacific Intermountain Express and at my first work group that I managed, the average tenure was 15 years. I was a new supervisor and thought I knew everything. After I struggled and failed to meet my production goals for my work group, it was at that point I realized how important it is to get employee feedback. When I started to listen to them and implement their suggestions, I started making those production goals. This happened in my first job right out of college.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED? My father told me to be the best at whatever I did and to learn from my mistake. That’s some of the best advice I’ve ever been given.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX? I like golf, going on power walks with my wife and hanging out in my media room, which I call my “man cave” at home. I like sports and watching movies.

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT? It’s getting married to my wife and having two beautiful daughters that are good people. On the professional side, it’s allowing myself to evolve within the transportation industry. I started in domestic (freight), then I went on to work in international consolidation, and now I’m involved in imports and exports. Throughout this process, I’ve met challenges at all levels and enjoyed success.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BEST BUSINESS DECISION? That’s an easy one. Best business decision was moving to D-FW from Memphis. The reason was it was a new frontier for me. It was a risk for me, because I had no friends or family here. It caused me to step outside my comfort zone, and I was eventually able to gain some new skills.

WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT? I wish there was more time in the day. I work my process throughout the day. I learn how to relax and work toward a solution.

ANY REGRETS? I enjoy the challenges this involves, I wish I had started at Intermodal Cartage earlier.

WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST ROLE MODELS? My first role model was my father because he worked two jobs most of my childhood and he supported anything I wanted to do. Now, it is a combination of people. Mark George, chairman of IMC companies, taught me balance and attention to detail and Randal Wright, executive vice president of IMCG, took the time to teach me the intermodal business.

Atlantic Intermodal Services (AIS) Expands Savannah Office

From the Savannah Business Journal –

Atlantic Intermodal Services (AIS) is a company that provides intermodal transportation services, specializing in import/export cargo shipments via trucking, port-to-port drayage, local round-trip drayage and more. AIS functions under the umbrella of IMC Companies, a company that was begun in 1982 as Intermodal Cartage and which has since expanded to incorporate a nationwide network of companies to facilitate the transportation of goods entering U.S. ports from all over the world and delivering them nationwide.

Since the company was founded in 2006, Atlantic Intermodal has seen tremendous growth, with an increase in business of 20 percent from 2009 to 2010. Part of its success was due to AIS’s targeting the smaller customer, rather than the larger client. In 2008, before the economic downturn, AIS made a concerted effort to woo smaller customers so that when the financial crisis hit in early 2009, the larger customers began to lose their market share while the smaller customers remained on the whole unaffected. AIS went from serving 15 customers in a week to 60 customers per week which is a positive trend at a time when companies are finding it difficult to remain afloat.

Memphis native and AIS president Jeff Banton says of his customer base: “My niche is a one-way market. I try to take imports to the interior of the Southeast and try to return our exports from Mississippi, Alabama, back to our ports.” Savannah’s marketing in the Far East made it lucrative and attractive for large shippers to send their goods to Savannah.

“Savannah was gaining more market share than Charleston and it became a catalyst for us at AIS,” Banton told the SBJ. Banton feels that until recently, Charleston was not paying attention to Savannah’s aggressive stance and that Charleston’s new port director, Jimmy Newsom (a Savannah native and former vice president for Hapag Lloyd) has begun to implement many of the same programs in South Carolina as those that have proved successful in Georgia.

Banton feels that the super cargo ships that will be coming with 2014 and the expansion of the Panama Canal will require the use of ports on the eastern seaboard and he feels that AIS’s operations in Jacksonville, Savannah and Charleston will put him in an enviable position to deal with the future flow of goods arriving in the United States. Banton also hopes to expand AIS’s operations to other ports like Wilmington and Norfolk.

Recently Banton’s company has tripled the size of its facility in Savannah. Although headquartered in Charleston, the majority of Atlantic Intermodal’s business is done in Savannah, so extra space was required in order to accommodate all new customers. Furthermore, Banton attributes much of this growth to Savannah’s port’s friendliness and openness to business possibilities.

The SBJ recently had the opportunity to speak with Jeff Banton, president of Intermodal Atlantic, a young company that has gone after the small customer in a field which is as old as trade is dealing with transoceanic transportation. Since his days as a college student at the University of Memphis, where Banton studied business marketing and logistics, he has been fascinated by the endless connections of shipping lines and railroad transportation which linked goods from far inland on one continent to another.

In 1986 Banton began working for Intermodal Cartage with its founder, Mark George, who had the vision to start with a single truck and find ways of linking international freight and brokerage firms who needed individuals on the ground to receive goods on U.S. soil and make them reach their destination in this country.

Although Memphis remains one of the principal railway heads linking goods coming from the Far East via West Coast ports, to the rest of the U.S., Banton recognized the growing importance of port cities like Charleston, Savannah and Jacksonville for the post 2014 expansion of the Panama Canal and the impact it will have on future transportation of foreign goods to the U.S. (and U.S. goods to foreign markets). To this end, he established Atlantic Intermodal’s headquarters in Charleston in anticipation of what he hoped would be a boom. Unfortunately, the economic downturn of 2008 affected his plans, but despite this Jeff persisted. To his surprise, Jeff discovered that by catering to smaller companies he was able to weather the adversity of the times and come through stronger. To this end his company expanded by 40 percent between 2008 and 2010 and an additional 25 percent in 2011.

This Tennessee native likes to point out that there are pockets of possibilities in this trying economy where it is possible to thrive, and even, flourish. The friendliness of Savannah’s port, and its competitive streak drew him here from Charleston. That is not to say that Charleston no longer counts as one of Atlantic Intermodal’s ports, but rather that Banton has noticed that Savannah’s ambitious approach has influenced Charleston into changing its approach to business. Savannah native, Newsome, a former Hapag Lloyd VP, and now director of Charleston’s port, has applied many of Savannah’s port’s smart strategies to Charleston in order to remain competitive and offer an equally attractive business option to companies like Atlantic Intermodal.

“Savannah aggressively wooed and won many Far Eastern companies to ship their goods to Georgia, despite the long winding river course,” Banton told the SBJ. “Savannah Port has better hours and is open for business on Saturdays something neither Jacksonville or Charleston were and this made it more attractive for shippers, brokers and businesses like ours…” Banton added.

Intermodal Atlantic serves under the umbrella of, IMC Companies, which is a large multipronged business relying on a wide network of truckers, freight services and brokerage firms with transnational and transoceanic links. Atlantic Intermodal has recently set up its Savannah offices at 401 Telfair Road, next to the Amtrak Railroad lines, and in the hub of truck transportation which dominates Savannah’s transportation hub.

Atlantic Intermodal (AIS) has a crack team of dispatchers who work round the clock in order to guarantee quick delivery of goods and a swift turn around of containers and chassis. This logistics involved are elaborate on many levels and Atlantic Intermodal prides itself in offering services which are cost-effective, and time efficient despite the ever-growing increase in the cost of diesel. Atlantic Intermodal does not own a single truck, rather it relies on a fleet of 150 trucks and drivers to receive and deliver goods throughout the Southeast up to Charlotte, N.C.

Banton hopes to expand operations for Intermodal by opening future branches in Norfolk and Wilmington and also plans to maintain a strong personal hold on his employees. At the moment he has six employees in his Savannah office. Banton did not approach any of the usual business partners or guides to the city, but rather, established himself and Atlantic Intermodal, quietly and steadily at on of the major junctions of sea, land and rail transportation.

To find out more information about Atlantic Intermodal Services, please visit the IMC Companies’ Web site at www.imccompanies.com and click on “Companies” and then the “AIS” logo.