Wilmington developers who are also owners of an ethanol plant in Indiana have ordered 100 new tank cars from Vertex Railcar Corp., a transaction valued at about $11 million.
Jack Carlisle, his wife, Jeanette, and his daughters, Lisa Beaman and Michelle Carlisle, have developed and are planning thousands of home lots in the Wilmington area and elsewhere in North Carolina, and they also own Iroquois Bio-Energy Company (IBEC) in Rensselaer, Indiana.
Beaman said Monday that when IBEC officials were looking for a rail car manufacturer for tank cars that meet new federal safety requirements, quality and price were their biggest concerns.
"We evaluated at great length the rail car manufacturers. Vertex produces a superior product. They were competitive in pricing, so it was not a hard decision to go with them," she said in an email.
She said she and her relatives felt Vertex would be "able to accommodate rail car changes in a matter of hours not months like other rail car manufacturers. We value our relationship with Vertex even more so after we became aware of Vertex's philanthropic commitments to the community here in Wilmington where they operate."
Vertex CEO Donald Croteau said the increase in productivity resulting from IBEC's order and another recent car order will allow the company to hire at least another 150 employees over time. Citing competitive reasons, Croteau declined to give an exact count of how many people are currently employed at the 202 Raleigh St. facility in Wilmington.
In a Vertex news release, Jack Carlisle said of the purchase, "It's more than a business transaction; it's an economic event that impacts the whole community."
Beaman said her family mainly uses local companies at the Indiana operation and for the development of home lots in the Cape Fear region. She said 95 percent of the corn used in the production of ethanol at IBEC comes from Indiana farmers.
The family's IBEC plant is a $100 million asset in Indiana, and the resulting revenue stream has allowed the purchase of Vertex rail cars as well as a lot of local land, Beaman said.
"Our first land purchase was in 2013, which brought us to Wilmington," Beaman said. "This was Tarin Woods, which was a very successful 130-home subdivision with clubhouse, pool, playground and wooded lots."
The family's development work in New Hanover County now includes 1,654 residential lots currently under development, 205 completed and the remaining at different stages. They are also working on 62 lots in Brunswick County, 735 in Onslow, 2,200 in Bladen and 1,640 in Wake and adjoining counties in the state's Piedmont region.
The family has purchased more than $10 million dollars of raw land in New Hanover County in the past four years, Beaman said.
In addition to Beaman's family's order, Vertex has also received an order for as many 350 coiled and insulated DOT117 tank cars, of various sizes, with linings for use in crude oil/chemical markets from Oklahoma-based Trinity Chemical, according to a Vertex news release. Trinity Chemical is a rail car leasing company.
An initial 50 cars for the Trinity order is expected to be delivered from Vertex by the end of January 2018 and the remaining within two years of that date, the release said.
Terry Fisher of Trinity Chemical said in the release, "We chose Vertex because of its aggressive pricing, superior commercial support, demonstrated world class facilities, good design and manufacturing quality focus, and its ability to provide flexible and mutually beneficial delivery quantities and schedule."
Vertex Railcar employees are also working on an order of 130 hopper cars from an unnamed company, described as "one of the largest rail car leasing groups in the U.S." in another Vertex news release.
The end user of the cars is "a large aggregate producer with extensive facilities located in the Southeastern part of the U.S," the release said, adding that the end user is expected to work with the leasing partner and VRC on more cars in the near future.
"This order represents our further expansion into other segments of the rail market in North America and we continue to broaden our portfolio of car types to support a customer opportunity no matter what kind of rail car they may need," Croteau said in a news release.