BY CECE NUNN
Vertex Railcar Corp. has received certification to make tank cars and supply them to the North American market, according to a recent announcement from the Wilmington-based rail car manufacturer.
Company officials said last week that the firm has also received new orders for aggregate and wood chip cars from companies that lease the cars to other firms.
The Association of American Railroads gave Vertex an M-1002 Initial Certification in early July that "covers new, general service non-pressurized tank cars built to new U.S. Department of Transportation DOT-117 specifications," according to a Vertex news release.
The certification amounts to a formal facility approval that has allowed Vertex to begin making the DOT-117 cars, for which the company had already received orders. The car's design was developed to address safety concerns related to old tank cars that will have to be retrofitted or retired.
Company officials in June said the company received an order from Trinity Chemical for as many as 350 coiled and insulated DOT-117 tank cars for use in the crude oil/chemical markets. Real estate developers based in Wilmington
ordered 100 ethanol tank cars
from Vertex this year for their Indiana ethanol plant.
Vertex is currently making two different types of tank cars and four kinds of freight cars -- two styles that can haul aggregates, one for wood chip and one flat style, Vertex CEO Donald Croteau said. He said the company has five active orders with four different customers.
The company, which operates at 202 Raleigh St. in Wilmington, was certified for the mass production of freight cars in 2015, according to previous news reports and Vertex news releases. In a July 27 news release, company officials said the firm received "an order from a well-respected rail industry lessor for its optimized 2480 CF aggregate car." The company is Tealinc Ltd., which has offices in Colorado and Chicago and a presence in Canada, according to the company's website.
Commenting on the order in the news release, Croteau said, "This is the second rail lessor in recent months that has chosen us to be their aggregate car solution after visiting our facility in Wilmington and interacting with our entire team."
Julie Mink, president of Tealinc, said in the release, “As a railcar owner and active operating lessor we have been searching for a manufacturer capable of building railcars to serve our aggregate customers. We value the demonstrated quality, quantity flexibility, and a true mutually beneficial relationship that working with Vertex provides. We had assumed many things when we were planning our visit to VRC; however when we arrived in Wilmington, the capability, exceptional quality standards and passion shown by everyone at Vertex was more than we could have hoped for and we are confident that these Vertex built railcars will serve our aggregate customers while in the Tealinc private railcar fleet for many years to come.”
The Tealinc order is one of two recently received by Vertex by different customers, the news release said. The second one is from an unnamed, different railcar lessor for a large quantity of its light-weight 7500CF wood chip car.
"The 7500 CF wood chip car is a new design for VRC but the 2480CF aggregate car is consistent with cars we are building now," Croteau said in an email Wednesday.
The quantity of the orders were not disclosed. Company officials said the cars are scheduled to begin shipping in early fall of this year.
Croteau said hiring at the Raleigh Street facility is expected to continue. The company had 221 employees as of May 2016, but officials have not shared exact employment figures since then, citing competitive reasons.
"VRC has already exceeded the original hiring levels that were published earlier and has in fact added about 20 percent more people," Croteau said in the email, referring to last year's count. "We anticipate that we will continue the hiring process and the amount of employees will increase further over the next few months."
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