September 11, 2023

CH Robinson expands border footprint with major facility in Texas


As nearshoring expansion in Mexico continues to create booming demand for border logistics facilities, brokerage giant C.H. Robinson has opened a 400,000-square-foot cross-border facility in Laredo, Texas.

The facility includes 154 dock doors and room for 700 trailers, while expanding the company’s footprint along the U.S.-Mexico border to 1.5 million square feet of logistics space.

Mike Burkhart, C.H. Robinson’s vice president of North America surface transportation, said Mexico’s value proposition as a reliable and attractive manufacturing location is the strongest he’s ever seen.

“[C.H. Robinson] has been operating in Mexico for over 30 years, and right now without a doubt this is the most interest we’ve seen in Mexico,” Burkhart told FreightWaves. “Nearshoring is attracting all kinds of manufacturing to the country, and it’s really just starting, because a lot of the factories are still under construction and haven’t even come online yet.”

Nearshoring to Mexico has soared since 2020, boosted by declining U.S.-China trade relations and shifting global supply chains caused by the pandemic.

Northern Mexican states such as Nuevo Leon have attracted about $25 billion in foreign direct investment in recent years, including Tesla’s planned $5 billion electric vehicle factory near the city of Monterrey.

Burkhart said Laredo’s proximity to Monterrey was a key factor in the expansion in Laredo. The two cities are about 140 miles apart.

“Manufacturing, nearshoring around Monterrey is booming, especially automotive,” Burkhart said. “Opening this facility in Laredo so close to Monterrey gives [C.H. Robinson] major capacity and opportunities. I think a lot of the locations along the Mexico border will see growth because of nearshoring, but Laredo’s location … near Monterrey, Queretaro and other major central [Mexican] cities gives it an advantage over others.”

He said one of the unique things about the company’s new distribution center in Laredo is that it has dock doors on both sides of the facility, which helps accelerate the transfer of freight from Mexican carriers to U.S. carriers.

When freight is shipped from Mexico to the U.S. via truck, it typically takes three trucks to bring a shipment through Laredo, Burkhart said.

“A Mexico carrier brings the trailer to the border, a Mexico transfer carrier takes it across, then the freight is unloaded and reloaded onto a U.S. carrier’s trailer,” he said. “Because our cross-dock is significantly larger than most … we can immediately unload freight when it arrives.”

C.H. Robinson’s distribution center aims to handle as many as 350 shipments a day, and the facility’s size will help speed up freight flows through Laredo, Burkhart said.

“On a day when 350 loads are being picked up, if you reduce load time by an average of 10 minutes, that saves nearly 60 hours in one day,” Burkhart said.

In addition to C.H. Robinson, Laredo has seen several other freight and trucking firms open or announce new facilities in recent months.

Truckload broker RXO opened a $30 million, 127,000-square-foot facility in Laredo in April. The warehousing and distribution center features 43 dock doors and parking for 160 trailers.

In May, Pennsylvania-based carrier PGT Trucking began construction of a new trucking terminal in Laredo. The facility will be on a 7.7-acre site and feature an operations center, driver amenities and a truck maintenance shop, providing a regional base for over 70 local drivers. It’s scheduled to open in 2024.

Watch: Electric truckmaker Nikola orders recall after semi catches fire.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

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The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

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