When Boasso America first became a tenant of the St. Bernard Port, Harbor and Terminal District in 2002, the then 17-year-old tank container company operated a few locations around the New Orleans area, as well as a handful of out-of-state, domestic terminals.
Fast forward to 2017, Boasso’s 32nd year in business, and the company is expanding its operations based at the Port, as well as acquiring a few new locations in the United States and several abroad.
In light of this new growth, Robby Showalter, Boasso’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, said the company is implementing a rebranding effort which has them slated to become Boasso Global by the end of 2017.
Showalter said much of Boasso’s growth happened once they moved operations to St. Bernard Port, which serves as the company’s corporate headquarters.
“Once we moved into the Port facility in 2002, the Port afforded us the opportunity to expand our business here locally and then have enough corporate office space to be able to handle and manage expansions all over the world,” said Showalter, who has been with Boasso for 28 years, serving 20 in his current positions.
Boasso, an international tank container industry service company, services the chemical industry around the world in the movement of portable tank containers, which are stacked on ships much like cargo containers, Showalter said. The chemical containers are transported by truck and rail as well, he said.
“Our trucks pick up the containers for the customer, and transport them to a chemical plant for the chemical to be properly discharged,” Showalter said. “From there, the containers are trucked to one of our service facilities, like the one we have here at St. Bernard Port, where we will service the containers by cleaning, testing and repairing them.”
Once the tank containers are refurbished, Showalter said, Boasso stores them at one of their facilities until they are ready to be brought to their next destination.
“Our trucks will bring the containers to another chemical plant where they are refilled with chemicals, placed on a new ship and transported somewhere out of that region,” he said. “We service these tank containers from entry into the country until they go back out overseas again.”
St. Bernard Port Executive Director Drew Heaphy said providing Boasso with the room to expand 15 years ago was one of the easiest decisions the Port has made over the years.
“Knowing the reputation and integrity of the management at Boasso America in 2002 made the decision to make lands and infrastructure available to lease to Boasso simple,” Heaphy said. “Since becoming a tenant, Boasso has grown both locally and internationally. The Port could not be prouder of their accomplishments in the industry, and appreciates the conducive working relationship we have established through the years.”
In addition to the space they occupy at St. Bernard Port, Boasso boasts 11 other terminals in the United States, including Chicago, Detroit, Charleston, Newark, Savannah, Norfolk, Memphis, Mobile, Jacksonville and two in Houston.
In July 2016, Boasso acquired 8 locations in England. In November 2016, Showalter said, the company purchased two locations in the Netherlands, one in Spain and another in France.
Founded in 1985 by Walter Boasso, the company commenced operations in eastern New Orleans as a single, 5-acre dry/tank container repair depot. Later that year, Boasso and business partner Scott Giroir launched a container trucking division which became known as Gulf States Intermodal.
In 1989, after outgrowing the New Orleans facility, Showalter said the company, known then as Boasso America Corporation, moved to a 15-acre site in Arabi next to Domino Sugar and remained there for 13 years.
Showalter said a significant growth spurt in 2002 prompted Boasso America to move again – this time to its current 50-acre location at St. Bernard Port. Since moving to the Port, he said Boasso America has been the U.S. leader in providing depot and transportation services to an ever-growing 20’ ISO Tank Container Industry.
In 2007, Showalter said the company was sold by Walter Boasso and shareholders to a publicly traded company, Quality Distribution out of Tampa, Florida, which still holds ownership today. Boasso’s corporate office remains here in St. Bernard Parish.
Boasso’s overseas expansion, Showalter said, kicked off in 2016 with the acquisition of Isotank Group U.K., marking eight locations throughout the United Kingdom. Earlier this year, the company, now known as Boasso Global, acquired Den Hartogh’s tank cleaning and depot business, and their expansion in Europe included the purchase of 4 locations, 2 in the Netherlands, 1 in France and another in Spain.
Globally, Showalter said, the company currently has 24 locations, and that number continues to grow.
“We have plans in the near future to expand to other locations in the Midwest of the United States and further into Europe,” he said.
Showalter said Boasso employs about 1,100 people internationally, with about 250 based at St. Bernard Port.
“Over the last 10 years we have increased our employees by about 80 people here at the Port, and company-wide we went from about 500 in 2007 to more than 1,000 now,” he said.
Showalter said 75 percent of their employees at the Port are St. Bernard Parish residents. Hiring local is important to Boasso, he said.
“We feel we get a better worker, a harder worker, by hiring someone who has an investment in the community,” he said. “You get longevity with an employee since it is convenient to live and work in St. Bernard. It makes for a low turnover rate.”
Heaphy said the Port is pleased with Boasso’s ability to create so many new jobs.
“The Port is always looking for suitable tenants who can provide services and jobs within the Parish,” Heaphy said.
Showalter said Boasso’s tank container facility at St. Bernard Port is the second largest of its kind in the world, second in size only to its Houston terminal. He attributes much of Boasso’s ability to expand and grow to their partnership with St. Bernard Port over the past 15 years.
“Back when we were negotiating with the Port to open our large facility, the administrators at the Port were very accommodating. We’ve worked well together over the years and have been able to create a great business relationship,” he said. “The Port has always assisted us in every which way possible which allowed us to establish ourselves. As we needed things, they were always there to help us.”