Moving Cotton To Mexico


Moving Cotton To Mexico

Forklift operators work in moving bales to waiting trucks at Commodities Integrated Logistics.
Forklift operators work in moving bales to waiting trucks at Commodities Integrated Logistics.

The bays of a brand new 82,500-square-foot warehouse swing open. Truck trailers stand ready to receive freshly packaged 500-pound bales of Rio Grande Valley cotton.

“The gins are working 24/7, so we have to be ready,” said Laura Salazar, the general manager of Commodities Integrated Logistics.

Salazar walks through the warehouse in Weslaco. Forklift operators are busy transporting packages of cotton to and from the trailers. It’s the cotton season in the Rio Grande Valley and much of the product going south to Mexico will go through CiL. The McAllen-based company transports 60 percent of the U.S. cotton going to Mexico.

CiL operates six warehouse distribution facilities in the Valley with close to one million square feet in space for cotton warehousing and distribution. The CiL total includes two new spacious buildings at the Mid Valley Industrial Park in Weslaco. The larger facility stands at 200,000 square feet and the second at 82,500. The majority of the company’s warehousing space is in Weslaco with nearly 600,000 square feet in the Mid-Valley city.

“It just made sense for us to concentrate more in Weslaco,” Salazar said. “It’s in the middle of the Valley and close to the crop area.”

Bales stacked up high at one of CIL's new warehouses in Weslaco.
Bales stacked up high at one of CIL’s new warehouses in Weslaco.

A Home in Weslaco

CiL worked quickly with the Weslaco Economic Development Corporation to get the two new warehouses open in time for this year’s cotton harvesting season. A groundbreaking was held in mid-March and in mid-August, CiL celebrated a grand opening of the two new warehouses. The EDC assisted in fast tracking the permitting process with the city. The new facilities opened on schedule in the heart of the cotton harvesting season.

“Both the EDC and the city have been good to us,” Salazar said. “They’re been there for us.”

CiL focuses on Valley-grown cotton from late summer through October. Its new warehouses in Weslaco were busy receiving hundreds of bales of Valley cotton. They are in high stacks in the first week of opening. After the Valley cotton will come product from West Texas and then cotton from the southern United States. 

It will all eventually load into trucks for transport through the Pharr International Bridge and on to Monterrey. Here, it moves by rail to Mexico’s western Pacific ports for shipments to Asia. The 2019 Valley cotton season, Salazar said, is a robust one. The first priority is storing and transporting the local crop quickly.

“Our first focus is always on the Valley (cotton),” said Salazar, who is an accountant by training and has been with CiL for 17 years.

The local cotton arriving at the CiL warehouses comes from gins in Harlingen and Raymondville. The demand for what CiL does is growing, she said, and may require her to hire 15 to 20 additional employees in the next few years.

“We really enjoy the business,” said Salazar, who also notes many of her employees have been with CiL for over five years. “It’s like a big hard-working family.”