When Gulf Winds International, Inc. (GWI) opened a container yard at Bayport Container Terminal in 2018, the leading drayage, transloading, and domestic freight provider sought partnership from its longtime colleague Ceres Terminals Inc. (CTI).

The endeavor was so successful for both companies that when Ceres saw its opportunity to secure property at Barbours Cut Container Terminal this past summer, the longtime stevedore and terminal operator knew Gulf Winds would be the perfect partner to help the company hit the ground running.

“One of the first calls I made was to (GWI CEO) BJ Tarver,” said Ceres Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Adam Brooks. “It only made sense for us to collaborate with them. We wanted to band together with Gulf Winds because they had key elements that we needed to make the venture successful.”

That mutual respect over the years has yielded a new partnership between Gulf Winds International Inc. and Ceres in which GWI provides critical services to the new 75-acre container yard.

The venture enables both companies to leverage their sought-after expertise. GWII provides the strength of its truck fleet, which has recently surpassed over 750 trucks, as well as a stable pool of chassis that it expects to grow by 1,700 by the end of the year, Tarver said. GWII also brings to the table a highly motivated salesforce and a proprietary cargo visibility system, gwiTrack, that allows customers to track their cargo from shipping to delivery. “We’re able to offer an end-to-end solution for our customers,” Tarver said.

Meanwhile, Ceres offers vital assets such as top loaders and other equipment, International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) labor, its longtime expertise in container yard operations and an equally assertive salesforce.

“We’re playing to each other’s strengths,” Tarver said. “It’s a great opportunity for both of our companies, and we’ve structured it in a way that we can complement each other very well.”

The location of both yards is key as they are both port-adjacent to both Barbour’s Cut and Bayport container terminals. “It allows us to take the full suite of both of our services and apply them equally at both of the Port Houston container terminals,” Brooks said.

The new partnership could not come at a more critical time, as capacity begins to tighten at the Port of Houston and demand for limited storage space continues to grow.

“We’re extremely excited about the partnership,” Tarver said. “It is not only an additional growth opportunity for our company, but we can also offer additional services to our customers. There’s a strong need for a lot of our export customers to have a place to store their cargo and to free up chassis, and this is allowing us to do that.”

Before officially opening part of the yard July 1, Ceres had already begun landing containers into the available space because of need. Approximately 33 percent of the yard Ceres initially opened for availability is already full, Brooks said.

That demand required Ceres to operate the new container yard within days rather than months and years, something that Ceres would not have been able to do without Gulf Winds, Brooks said.

“I can bluntly say that I don’t think we would have been able to do this project without them, not to the success we’ve had to date,” Brooks said. “It’s exciting to have a partner that you know, you trust, and that is looking out for your interests, not just theirs. I say that without hesitating. BJ’s desire to expand our partnership, his willingness to assist and help us get up and running — it’s only fostered our appetite to do more with Gulf Winds.”