October 11, 2023

Former Tiger Cool Express execs revive Washington intermodal project


A planned intermodal container ramp in eastern Washington is back on track after finding a new investor.

Tri-Cities Intermodal LLC (TCI) announced Wednesday it had signed a lease/purchase agreement with Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) to develop the 67-acre Tri-Cities Intermodal Center in Wallula, Washington.

PNW Capital has agreed to invest in the project, which aims to service UP’s customers at ports in Seattle and Tacoma, as well as customers as far east as Chicago. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

“It is fantastic to have line of sight to actual operation within three to four months,” Theodore Prince, TCI’s CEO and founder, said in a news release. “We were very fortunate to find an investor with the foresight, along with Union Pacific’s support to bring this project to fruition.”

The Tri-Cities Intermodal Center will have the capacity for 5,000 monthly lifts and could handle up to 22,000 annual container shipments of commodities like onions, apples, wine, pears and potatoes, UP told Railway Age.

The plan represents a revival of a previously announced project by Overland, Kansas-based rail shipping and logistics firm Tiger Cool Express, which shut down in June amid questions about the company’s financial health. 

Prince is a former executive and co-founder of Tiger Cool Express. 

UP officials said the Tri-Cities Intermodal Center will benefit agricultural shippers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho by providing cost-effective and sustainable container capacity. 

“We are excited about Tri-Cities Intermodal advancing an initiative that will remove thousands of trucks from the highway,” Kari Kirchhoefer, UP’s senior vice president of premium, marketing and sales, said in a statement. “This is a region that continues to grow in logistical importance, and we look forward to supporting its growth with safe, reliable service.”

The lease/purchase agreement includes the former Cold Connect warehouse and property in Wallula.

UP closed the 200,000-square-foot refrigerated Cold Connect warehouse and its rail line in May 2020, citing COVID-related issues. UP began operating the facility in 2017 as an end-to-end transportation service for refrigerated goods such as fruits, vegetables and other temperature-sensitive cargo.

Tiger Cool Express first announced an agreement to purchase the facility from UP in 2021. The firm had planned to begin operations at the site in June of this year. 

PNW Capital is led by James Delaney, who assumes the role of nonexecutive chairman at TCI.

In addition to Prince, TCI’s management team consists of several former Tiger Cool Express executives, including Justin Roberts, vice president of operations; Tom Smith, vice president of sales and marketing; Zachary Ybarra, vice president of planning, control and information systems; rail manager Liam Marsh; and executive assistant Felicia Moore.

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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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