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Fargo's business ties to Winnipeg strengthen with announcement of new freight corridor

Rene Saurette, president of RS Express Ltd. of Winnipeg, Man., announces a consolidated shipping solution between Winnipeg and Fargo during a presentation Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, at Doosan Bobcat North American Headquarters in West Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

WEST FARGO—Making a great product isn't enough anymore, at least by itself.

That's why Ryan Bourget, director of strategic services for Herd, a manufacturer of bumper guards and grills for semis and trucks, said the Canadian business is looking at more than just the things it makes to edge out competitors. A new freight corridor that aims to better connect Winnipeg to Fargo is already helping, he said.

Bourget and representatives of participating Fargo and Winnipeg transportation companies announced the corridor that launched Nov. 1 during a manufacturing summit Tuesday, Dec. 5, at Doosan Bobcat's North American headquarters, 250 E. Beaton Drive.

Rene Saurette, president of Winnipeg-based RS Distribution Services Ltd., said its agreement with North Dakota-based Midwest Motor Express Inc. offers warehouse space in both cities. Keeping inventory in one distribution center allows for a single clearance through Customs, he said, which could save time and money.

But the collaboration also means products will be closer to customers of companies on both sides of the border, speeding up the amount of time needed to get items to people all over North America.

"There's a significant savings that can be realized," he said.

Customer demands

Saurette said the new freight corridor is based around daily service bringing products between the cities. An RS truck leaves Winnipeg at about 6 p.m. each night, getting to Fargo around 11 p.m. to unload freight that's then split up and sent off to final destinations across much of the Upper Midwest.

A similar process brings things from Midwest Motor Express facilities in Fargo late at night up to Winnipeg, where freight is unloaded and either stored in warehouses or sent off.

Midwest Motor Express Vice President of International Logistics Ron Martin said the corridor is already off to a running start, giving companies a new option for more efficient, faster transportation.

He said it's a logical evolution because of the locations of these two companies. Much of the imports from China to Canada first arrive in America's Long Beach port before shipments are broken up and trucked the rest of the way.

"This is just a natural gateway," he said.

Bourget said Herd has seen results from the freight corridor already. Its products are typically big and bulky, making it expensive to ship. By consolidating into larger loads rather than several individual shipments, the company can trim costs on Customs clearance and speed up delivery.

"Our cost is now less, including our warehouse cost, to ship product to our customers in the U.S. than it was when we never had a warehouse and we only shipped from Winnipeg," he said.

Another benefit, according to Bourget, is the ability to meet rapidly rising expectations of how quick products can be shipped.

He said getting Herd's grills or bumper guards to parts of Montana previously took four days or longer, and now can be done in a single day.

The previous timeline of four days or more was hard to sell, even to the parts managers of dealers who are primary clients of Herd, he said—especially because many of them are used to Amazon Prime's ability to get them products anywhere in two days.

"I can't very well send them an email or a phone call saying, 'Yeah, that's going to be four or six weeks or even five days away,' " he said.

Bourget said Herd intends to move some of its manufacturing down to America in the near future to make its products even closer to customers.

Martin, too, said Midwest Motor Express is looking at adding more warehouse and freight space in Fargo as this new corridor grows. He said the company can handle more freight to and from Winnipeg by adding schedules and increasing load sizes on its trucks, something it would do as the capacity and demand increases for more transportation.

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson has been a Forum reporter since 2012 and previously wrote for the Grand Forks Herald.

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