New import terminals for Houston

New import terminals for Houston
Published: 14 April 2005

Work has begun on a cement terminal at the Port of Houston that, when completed next spring, will be among the largest such facilities in the country. The terminal is being built on 88 acres by the newly formed Houston Cement Co., a joint venture of Ash Grove Texas and Alamo Cement. Ash Grove Cement Co. and Alamo, both longtime providers to the U.S. construction industry, will mark the terminal’s groundbreaking today. The $42 million-plus facility will help accommodate growing construction markets in Houston and Texas.

Company officials say the joint venture was formed solely to import cement for the two partners to provide to their customers. They noted that they could build a bigger, more efficient terminal by joining forces. While Ash Grove and Alamo will jointly import cement, the two won’t work together on sales. The companies will keep individual identities and
marketing control .

The new facility on the Houston Ship Channel will include six silos with a total of 100,000t - of storage space for cement, together with a dock that can handle so-called Panamax-size vessels, said Jim Gatens, president of Houston Cement Co. and vice president-sales of
Ash Grove Texas.  A mechanical unloader that can handle large amounts of cement already has been bought.

Ash Grove Cement, which has its headquarters in Kansas, is the largest US-owned producer of cement and the fourth-largest producer in the
country, the company said. Alamo, meanwhile, has a cement plant in San Antonio, and part of its cement market extends to Houston, said Allen Walsh, Alamo’s president.

"We just want to be in a position to grow our own ready mix business and customer base, and we are limited with our single cement plant in San Antonio," Walsh said. "As the market grows, we want to be able to grow with it."  Alamo, which has ready mix, aggregate and concrete product operations in South Texas, is wholly owned by Italy-based Buzzi Unicem Group. Buzzi Unicem operates 11 cement plants and 20 cement terminals in the United States. After the import terminal is completed, the joint venture’s combined facilities will have 175,000t of cement storage.