The Andersons Bring Repair Expertise to Hancock County
April 15, 2020
Hancock County, Mississippi – (April 15, 2020)
The Andersons began in the 1940s as a small, family-owned truck terminal in Maumee, Ohio. Over the last 70+ years, the company has grown to have a presence that spans 23 states and into Manitoba and Saskatchewan Canada. The Andersons are grouped into four areas of focus, that include: Trade, Plant Nutrient, Ethanol, and Rail.
Out of the four areas of focus, it’s The Andersons Rail Group that chose Port Bienville Industrial Park, located in Hancock County, as its home in 2005. Their Hancock County location is one of nearly 30 locations across the U.S. and maintains approximately 15 employees at a time.
As an Associate member of the Association of American Railroads, the Andersons company is AAR certified to provide rail car repairs as necessary. Essentially, rail cars must meet AAR certification on an annual basis, and The Andersons help keep the cars up to standard. While they are contracted through Port Bienville to provide AAR repair, The Andersons Rail Group also contracts with tenants of Port Bienville to provide additional railcar services, to include cleaning and repair.
In addition to providing the necessary AAR repairs and certification, The Andersons Rail Group in Hancock County is also M-1003 certified, which allows the company to do heavy repairs over 85 hours. Not every Andersons Rail Group location is M-1003 certified. Only 8 of the 30 Rail Group locations are N1003 certified, making the Hancock County location a key component of the Rail Group repair strategy.
“Not every location we have in the Rail Group is certified to provide the M-1003 level repairs” said Ashley Christophe Willis, Area Manager for The Andersons. “The M-1003 certification takes our ability to repair railcars one step further”.
Willis, Southeast Area Manager, is located at the Port Bienville Industrial Park office in Hancock County. She has worked for The Andersons for about 13 years and has worked in various roles within the company. In her current role, Willis oversees operations of 6 repair locations across North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Because of her experience in working within varied roles, Willis can easily jump in to help in every area as needed.
Willis said that the Hancock County location has one of the lowest turnover rates of employees across the Rail Group locations, and that some employees been with The Andersons since the location opened in 2005. The employees spend approximately 90% of their time performing mechanical repairs to the railcars, and about 10% of their time performing welding-related repairs. Willis said that they hire, train, and grow their employees by providing mostly on the job training.
“We have mostly local people from nearby areas” Willis said. “They come to us from Slidell, Gulfport, Picayune, and even as close as Pearlington”.
The Port Bienville location performs approximately 13 to 16 repairs per day, and approximately 600 repairs per month. These services range, depending upon the types of repairs that are needed. There may be 40 to 50 railcars to repair, but the repairs equate to 600 touches per month. That’s enough work to keep The Rail Group employees quite busy. While The Andersons Group serves Port Bienville tenants as necessary, there are also railcars routed to the Hancock County location from around the country to provide repairs and services that are not available at all Rail Group locations.
As the economic development authority for Hancock County, Mississippi, the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission owns and operates Port Bienville Industrial Park and Stennis International Airport — in addition to fostering business investment for John C. Stennis Space Center, NASA’s premier rocket testing facility. For more information, visit www.portairspace.com.