Railex LLC it was the right opportunity at the right time. Not only has the company’s original idea of shipping potatoes across the country worked well, but Railex has since expanded to ship other produce and wine.
The company recently announced that it’s expanding its operation in Wallula to include a $20 million, 500,000-square-foot wine storage and distribution center for wine from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates (PDF) and other wineries. It will allow the company to store up to 10 times more wine and add an estimated 25 employees.
First profiled in AWB’s Washington Business in 2009, Railex started by shipping potatoes and other fresh produce via a rail hub in the Tri-Cities to Albany, N.Y. Railex secured lease agreements with Union Pacific Railroad and CSX Transportation to pull the rail cars across the country with little stopping and no disconnecting. As a result, it could safely ship spuds across the country in just five days.
It added bonded wine storage and shipping later in order to diversify.
Reliability is a major reason why the company is doing so well. Volatile fuel prices and fears of a shortage of truck drivers to ship potatoes this summer is a concern for Washington potato growers. “Railex is able to get potatoes to market on a very cost-competitive, reliable basis,” said Washington State Potato Commission’s Chris Voigt. “Folks who use it love it. It’s been an integral part here in Washington.”
It’s nice to see that even in challenging economic times, a business with a great idea can still thrive and grow.