When 3W Plastics moved into 1280 Kirk Street within the Elk Grove Business Park late in 2019, they knew access to the park’s dedicated rail line would be critical in order to scale their business. What surprised them is the high level of service provided by the rail operator — a partnership that has helped drive business growth.
“With 80% of our raw materials delivered via rail, it was something we would not compromise on when selecting a building location. Purchasing material in railcar amounts is much more cost effective for us,” says Jennifer Wright, Sales Manager, who with her brother and sister founded the injection molding business. 3W Plastics is known for their extensive experience in the packaging industry. “We help the food and industrial products industries maintain a secure trusted supply chain for their container needs," adds Wright. "We offer a line of premium high-quality FDA-approved pails and covers that combine strength and durability with shipping and storage efficiency to deliver a high value solution.”
Progressive Rail Inc. operates the short line railroad system within the business park. “Working with Progressive has been an unbelievable experience. They are completely customer-focused — beyond nice,” Wright says. “We are extremely excited to be partnering with them.”
Leveraging Rail’s Efficiencies
Wright says that in her experience, other rail operators provided limited communication about shipment arrivals, which made supply chain planning exceedingly difficult.
But Progressive met with her team to learn their needs. “Now we’re utilizing the rail line to receive raw materials and also to ship finished products via boxcar to customers,” she says. Working with Progressive will not only help optimize 3W’s operations, but will provide a low cost shipping option to better serve their customers, as well.
Phil Smailes, Director of Marketing at Progressive Rail, says understanding a customer’s business is key to how the Progressive Rail team helps customers be more competitive and grow. “Companies get a huge sourcing advantage when they utilize and leverage rail’s efficiencies.”
He describes short line rail service as a “portal and connection” to Class 1 railroads CN, CP, CSX, NS and UP. “We’re like the local road, and they’re the expressways.”
Based in Lakeville, MN, Progressive leases the Chicago Junction Railway system from Union Pacific. The system contains over 20 miles of track within four square miles of the business park. “It’s a unique rail asset,” Smailes says. “Chicago is the rail hub of the nation and the Chicago Junction Railway is the hub of that, offering connections to multiple Class I railroads. Our rail service can maximize an industry's rail capacity and allow for growth by offering multiple switches a day if needed."
Operating During the Pandemic
For 3W Plastics, efficient rail access provides wider sourcing options as the company evaluates its supply chain during the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has also brought new customers — and with access to rail freight, 3W Plastics can be sure to deliver.
“What differentiates 3W Plastics is innovation, quality, and service,” Wright says. “Industries that otherwise would not use pails as containers have contacted us because they’ve had to adapt their processes as they face supply chain disruption and changes in customer demand. We’re happy to serve as a trusted resource as they navigate this challenging business environment.”
In their first year in business, she says 3W Plastics is happy to have chosen Elk Grove as its business home.
“From our initial applications to do business in Elk Grove Village, we knew that we were coming to a town that encourages and supports businesses,” Wright says. “Not all towns are the same when it comes to working with businesses as partners rather than adversaries. We have found the Village to be very helpful and easy to work with.”
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