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Dunavant sees opportunities in Mexico amid supply chain disruptions

FREIGHTWAVES | NOI MAHONEY
February 20, 2022

Dunavant Enterprises is betting big on Mexico as a solution to overstressed global supply chains and record container backlogs at U.S. ports. 

Memphis, Tennessee-based Dunavant recently launched dedicated Mexico cross-border and intra-Mexico operations, offering logistics management solutions with a new set of office locations all along the U.S.-Mexico border — stretching from Brownsville, Texas, through Arizona to Otay Mesa, California.

The company also opened operations at Mexican seaports in Ensenada, Altamira, Veracruz and Manzanillo and offices at airports in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey.

One of Dunavant’s main goals with the expansion is to give shippers an alternative to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where container backlogs have hampered freight movement over the last several months. 

“A lot of companies are pulling away from China and going into the U.S. by increasing their production in Mexico,” said Johnny Araiza, Dunavant’s newly hired vice president of cross-border and Mexico operations. “We’ve also been able to provide customers with a workaround in regards to the port in Long Beach because obviously the congestion is ridiculous right now.”

Dunavant’s cross-border services now include Texas operations in Laredo, El Paso, Eagle Pass, Pharr and Brownsville and facilities in Nogales and Douglas, Arizona, and Calexico, San Diego and Otay Mesa, California.

“We’re one of the few forwarders that can come through a port in Mexico, like the Port of Ensenada, and to transit towards the border and bypass Long Beach, providing a shorter cycle for the customers to be able to get their product from overseas into the U.S.,” Araiza said.

Araiza, who is based in Laredo, said Dunavant’s expansion provides door-to-door service for shippers sending both northbound and southbound freight across the border. 

Dunavant’s Mexico-based operations include services such as trucking, air and ocean freight, cross-docking, warehousing, distribution, brokerage, insurance and consulting.

The company was founded in 1928 by Memphis businessman William B. “Billy” Dunavant Jr. Dunavant flourished in the global cotton trade for more than 50 years. In 2010, the company expanded its logistics model beyond cotton to other industries, including automotive aftermarket products, chemical, food and beverage, paper and packaging, and retail.

Today, Dunavant has 220 employees at locations throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada and China. One of the company’s largest facilities is in Pasadena, Texas, where Dunavant has 80 employees operating more than 1 million square feet of warehouse space and 150 intermodal trucks.

Dunavant currently averages about 320 weekly cross-border shipments, mainly through Laredo. Araiza said a year or so from now, Dunavant aims to service about 3,000 U.S.-Mexico shipments a week all along the border.

“We do distribution, warehousing, just-in-time pickup along the border, and that’s been heavily focused with automotive customers,” Araiza said. “Automotive in Texas is growing. Look at Tesla in Austin and Toyota in San Antonio. But now we’re also starting to see more with food manufacturers in Mexico, more food and beverage customers sending their goods to the U.S.”

Two of the busiest U.S.-Mexico commercial truck crossings along the border are in Laredo and Otay Mesa, California.

FreightWaves’ Outbound Tender Volume Index — monthly change signals which markets are experiencing prolonged volume growth or contraction — shows both Texas and California have grown over the past month and a half. 

With the spring produce season set to get underway in March, both states should continue to experience elevated freight volumes.

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Posted by Andrea Wiley at 18:00