| Summer 2016
Message From the President
I am pleased to announce that Gross & Janes has received a United States Patent for a ‘two-step’ borate pre-treatment dipping process and related equipment the company developed to increase the life of wood railroad crossties. A news release with more details is included in this newsletter.
I am also proud to share with you a commentary article published in the St. Louis Business Journal recently under my byline about the significant impact a healthy freight rail system has made on our suppliers and economy. A reprint of this article can be found below. I hope you agree with my message.
You will also see in our Marketplace Report that the railroads continue to benefit from the trend of lower log prices that began back in the Spring. Let’s hope that inventories can keep up.
Gross & Janes Receives United States Patent for Two-Step Borate Pre-treatment Method and Equipment for Wood Crossties
Gross & Janes Co. has received a United States Patent for a ‘two-step’ borate pre-treatment dipping process and related equipment the company developed to increase the life of wood railroad crossties.
“Gross & Janes was an early railroad industry proponent of using borate to enhance the life of crossties,”” said Mike Pourney, President of Gross & Janes. “After years of monitoring of borate in railroad crossties, we have succeeded in making the two-step application process more uniform and consistent. Receiving this patent validates decades of effort to incorporate borate as an additional component in treating a railroad tie.”
Gross & Janes uses this two-step method in the production of its trademark Tuff-Tie borate pre-treated crossties at its production facility in Camden, Arkansas. According to the Railway Tie Association, approximately 40 percent of the 23.5 million railroad ties made in North America last year were treated with borate.
The company’s two-step method is an environmentally friendly pre-treatment of ‘green’ crossties prior to air-drying. This helps protect the ties from insects, stack burn and decay. Following the air-drying process, the ties are then treated with the traditional creosote or copper napthenate.
Gross & Janes is one of the largest independent suppliers and shippers of untreated railroad ties in North America. Founded in 1920, privately held Gross & Janes has processing facilities in Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama and Texas, and purchases raw wood materials from more than 175 independent sawmills in ten states.
For more information, visit www.grossjanes.com.
Freight rail connecting the dots for St. Louis economy
Originally published in the St. Louis Business Journal on July 21, 2016
By Mike Pourney
A new report from the Towson University Regional Studies Institute reinforces something we at Gross & Janes Co. and the more than 175 independent sawmills we support already know well: a healthy freight rail industry able to invest at a high level supports countless jobs throughout the economy.
According to the just-released report, the nation’s major railroads created $274 billion in economic activity and generated nearly $33 billion in tax revenue nationwide. The report also found that every single railroad job supports nine additional jobs in other industries. I have seen the evidence to support this conclusion.
When the U.S. economy went into a tailspin in 2007-08, homebuilding and other sectors that drive demand at sawmills dried up. One constant that kept many a sawmill afloat during these tough times was continued demand from freight railroads for crossties. This is because even though rail traffic and rail profits were down, freight railroads had the foresight to continue churning revenue back into the rail network. Freight railroads doubled down on the American economy at a critical time when many others went into retreat.
With Congress and the federal government notably out of favor today, it is interesting that the Towson report credits smart government policy with making it possible for railroads to continue record infrastructure investments even during the recession.
Thirty-five years ago the crushing weight of federal over-regulation had virtually destroyed the railroad industry, driving some railroads into bankruptcy while others operated on poorly maintained and often dangerous track.
In 1980, however, the landmark Staggers Rail Act was signed into law, which freed railroads to operate like other businesses in a free market. Today, American railroads have gone from near destruction to creating the safest, most efficient and most productive freight rail network in the world — all thanks to smart policy that replaced government command and control with a balanced regulatory system.
As a St. Louis-based company doing business for nearly 100 years, Gross & Janes knows well how freight railroads have shaped our local and national economies. We do business directly with railroads, selling them crossties and other products, so the connection between rail investment and our success, and the success of our employees, is clear.
What today's elected officials need to understand is that the connection does not end there. Policymakers need to connect the dots to the hundreds of sawmills providing jobs to their constituents — jobs that enable them to purchase homes and automobiles, buy groceries, pay taxes and support their local economies in so many ways.
Gross & Janes and the sawmills we do business with are just one example of what the new report calls a “ripple effect” from freight rail’s “wide footprint on the economy.” When you understand that railroads have been investing an average of $25 billion of private capital annually in infrastructure, technology and equipment, it is easy to see just how wide that footprint is and how many sectors of the economy can trace a significant measure of their success to freight rail.
Mike Pourney is President and CEO of Gross & Janes Co., one of the the largest independent suppliers and shippers of untreated railroad crossties in North America.
Marketplace Report — Summer 2016
A random survey of selected sawmills was taken the week of August 8, 2016, to develop this non-scientific snapshot of the crosstie purchasing market. The report is broken down into four primary log-harvesting regions covering portions of Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana (see map). It covers both oak and mixed-wood logs.
Highlights: Log prices continued to drop compared to last quarter, as did the price of fuel. However, wet weather and hot temperatures in many areas have cut into log inventories at most sawmills, and the price of oak may be going up.