ALAMO, RGV – For Joaquin Spamer and his company, CiL (Commodity Integrated Logistics), one of the main attractions in opening a new warehouse in Alamo was the rail line.
“We have a great location here in Alamo. We have 26 acres. We have a railroad spur with capacity for over 50 railcars. That is unique in the Valley. There are very few locations that can handle that number of railcars at any one time,” Spamer said, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for his company’s new cotton warehouse operation.
CiL purchases cotton from across Texas and the cotton belt states and exports it to cotton mills across Mexico. The 80,000-square-foot facility in Alamo will house thousands of bales of cotton.
“We think we are going to be able to move more merchandise, other than cotton. We are looking at steel, a trans-loading operation, we are also looking at a scrap metal trans-loading operation.”
CiL has been operating in the Valley for about 25 years. The company started with a 20,000 square-foot warehouse in Hidalgo. Now it has 1.1 million square feet.
“We get cotton from all the cotton belt states, Rio Grande Valley, Corpus Christi, Houston, Lubbock, Memphis, Carolina, Georgia, from everywhere. Even from California. And all this cotton, the final destination is mills in Mexico. They manufacture textiles and most of those textiles are sold in Mexico. Some are brought back, as a finished product, like jeans,” Spamer explained.
Asked why Mexico needs U.S. cotton, Spamer said: “Mexico produces about 700,000 bales but it is in constant demand. Mexico utilizes about 2.2 million bales a year. So, it buys from the States about 1.5 or 1.6 million bales a year.”
CiL’s new warehouse operation is located on the corner of Business 83 and Tower Road in Alamo, in a building that used to belong to Atlantic Plastics, a plastics molding firm.
“This building has been empty for a long, long, time. We are excited to have CiL come into town. I think everything is going to be great for every party involved,” said Alamo Economic Development Corporation President Alonzo Garza.
“Job creation is our No. 1 thing in Alamo. Walmart was our biggest sales tax producer but they have expanded into Donna and Pharr so we lost a little bit. But, we made up for it in other areas, with other businesses coming in. So, I think we are doing great.”
Garza said because CiL has 20-plus of acres of land at the Business 83/Tower Road location, more warehousing could be on the cards.
“I think with the owner’s knowledge and his connections, I think something will develop and he will be good for everybody. I think it is a great opportunity for the City of Alamo and the company coming in here to come to Alamo. I think there is a lot of potential in Alamo,” Garza added.
CiL has warehouses across the Rio Grande Valley. Spamer said he was thrilled to be expanding operations into Alamo.
“There is a lot of potential for this property. We currently have 80,000 square feet of warehouse space and 20,000 square feet of office space. It is not a big warehouse but it is big enough for cotton handling. We have plans to increase the square footage to 160,000 square feet in the next few months,” Spamer said.
“For us, this location is very special because we just jumped to over a million square feet of warehouse space. We have warehouse space in Mission, McAllen, Weslaco, Alamo, Raymondville, you name it, we have warehouses there. We also have a footprint in Pharr and we are very grateful to the Rio Grande Valley and the City of Alamo for helping us set up shop in Alamo.”
Asked about the attraction of a smaller Valley city, Spamer said:
“I have friends that have businesses in Alamo. When you get out of the big cities of Pharr, South Pharr, McAllen, Mission, don’t get me wrong, they are great cities and we have done extremely well with those cities, but when you come to a smaller location, it is better to have that personal interaction with the mayor, with the city officials, with the director of the EDC, the chamber of commerce.
“It depends on the size of the business. If you have 10,000, 15,000 square feet operation, Alamo is perfect for that. If you are looking for a 250,000, 300,000, square feet operation, I believe McAllen, Edinburg, Mission, might do a better job for you. For a certain size of distribution center, Alamo, Weslaco, Mercedes, these are great cities to do business in.”
While cotton has been CiL’s core business, the company has expanded into real estate in recent years. The company employs about 60 people across the Valley. “We try to be very efficient,” Spamer said.
Spamer said he is keen to explore other business opportunities with the City of Alamo.
“We want to work with the City of Alamo in setting up an industrial park here. We think that is necessary for the city to attract more business. We have plenty of acreage. I think we can increase acreage with help from the City of Alamo. I think it would be very good to attract more business opportunities to the city and to increase the labor force of the city. I think it is beneficial for us and the city.”
Alamo Mayor Diana Martinez said officials were thrilled to have a company of the stature of CiL opening operations in the city.
“I want to wish CiL and Mr. Spamer all the success. If they grow, we grow,” Martinez said. “We always want companies to come and open in Alamo, that helps our tax base. And so, we welcome new business with open arms.”
Martinez said additional business may be on the horizon for CiL and Alamo. “I have just spoken to the owner and he said he wants to sit down with the city manager and I to discuss future plans. He wants to expand his company here. I said we have an open-door policy.”
Asked how well Alamo is doing, given the drop off in Mexican shoppers across the Valley, Martinez said: “We are doing great. We got our numbers yesterday and they are really good. I hate to say this but the flea market helps. Visitors come to the flea market and then stay and shop in Walmart and other stores. It has had a big impact.”
Martinez then referenced a number of “exciting” new projects.
“We are waiting for approval for an emergency care unit. We are sure other businesses will follow once that opens. On South Alamo Road, a nursing home is being built. So, Alamo is growing pretty fast. We have a new nature park, behind Boys and Girls Club, which should be completed in June, with a ribbon cutting in July. It is starting to look real nice.
“And, Alamo Road is being expanded to five lanes from Expressway83 to Nolana. This is a project being undertaken by TxDOT and the City of Alamo. We expect construction to start next year.
“Our population is growing. We are at about 22,000 now. We have several subdivisions coming up. We think we offer quality of life. We want visitors to shop in Alamo and stay in Alamo.”