PHARR, RGV – A logistics entrepreneur says for his line of work he could not ask for a better location in the Rio Grande Valley.
Joaquin Spamer has purchased a four-acre tract of land on the northwest corner of Military Highway and Cage Boulevard, just north of the Pharr International Bridge. The premises is to be called Patio del Puente.
“You need to come here on a Friday afternoon and take a look at the volume of business going back and forth and it is unreal,” Spamer told the Rio Grande Guardian, in an exclusive interview following a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“This property is right in the middle of everything that is happening with the international bridge. It is the ideal location.”
Asked to explain its geographical advantage, Spamer said:
“Pharr is great, it is the hub, it is where all the trucks cross from Mexico. This is where all the maquiladoras cross, the fresh produce crosses, everything happens here in Pharr. And this property is right across from the Pharr bridge. When you are coming northbound, you have a couple of gas stations, then you have Military Highway. As soon as you go under the bridge of Military Highway, this is where the property is located. We could not ask for anything better.”
Spamer owns the distribution companies CIL and Salsa. CiL distributes U.S. cotton in Mexico. Salsa distributes fresh produce from Mexico in the United States. He said he was extremely lucky to get hold of the property.
“We bought the property from the owners of Stripes. It was a really good experience. The company was very easy to deal with, very responsible. They said the only thing we could not sell from here was gas, diesel or tacos,” Spamer said.
“It used to be a gas station. Now it is a location where all our trucks coming from all over the Valley are going to make a pit stop. They are going to be checked and we are going to give them the paperwork in order for them to cross. It is going to make our deliveries into Mexico a lot faster.”
Being first to market was a key factor for Spamer.
“We wanted to be in Pharr. We wanted to be here. We want to be fast. We want to be the first ones to market. We want to be the first ones crossing. The fastest and the quickest delivery company of agricultural products in Mexico.”
It is not only Spamer’s trucks that will make use of the pit stop.
“We can do the paperwork for others. That is what we intend to do. We intend to increase our volume of business. I think it is going to happen with this location. We are going to have a truck wash facility and a truck service station as well. We will wash the trucks inside with a company we own, and, later, we will do exterior truck cleaning as well.”
Praise for Pharr mayor
Spamer said one of the factors that “motivated” him to buy the property was his relationship with Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez.
“The mayor has been very supportive of our enterprise. He has always been pushing the city to be business-friendly. We already have some properties in Pharr. We have made very strong investments in Pharr and we are very happy to be here,” Spamer said.
“Everyone is coming to me and saying, how do you do it. How did you get this property? I think we are blessed. The mayor is just great. He gives us time, he sits down with us. We have some other investments in Pharr that we want to accomplish in the near future and he understands. That is great. He is a smart man and he understands business. That is important.”
Spamer has warehousing operations in various cities in the Rio Grande Valley. He gave the Rio Grande Guardian an update on each of them.
Spamer said a new warehouse in Weslaco will house cotton.
“Weslaco has been great. Marie McDermott, Steve Valdez, Mike Perez, everybody is helping us out. We are going to go ahead and build 210,000 square feet of warehouse space. We have the plans, we have the architectural drawings, we have the financing in place. We have everything ready to go. Hopefully, we should be finished by September,” Spamer said.
“This is going to increase our footprint in Weslaco to 570,000 square feet. You can see that we believe in Weslaco.”
Marie McDermott and Steve Valdez run Weslaco Economic Development Corporation. Mike Perez is Weslaco city manager.
“In Raymondville, we have 100,000 square feet of warehousing space. It services one of our biggest customers, one of the most successful companies in cotton production. That is why we have that warehouse, for one specific customer. It is great, it is perfect. It has been very successful for us,” Spamer said.
“Our Alamo warehouse is full of cotton and other merchandise. We do not have any space though, it is completely full. We do not have one square foot to spare. When you think back, what would have happened if we had not bought that building when we did? We would have been giving business away.”
How it all started
Asked to reminisce on how his logistics business started out, Spamer gave thanks to Keith Patridge, president and CEO of McAllen Economic Development Corporation.
“We were a small company, very small. We had a small 20,000 square foot warehouse in Hidalgo. We wanted to get big. We wanted to grow. We started working with some cotton merchants. At the same time, I was invited to participate as a board member of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation. Keith Partridge invited me. I immediately said yes. I spent about eight years going once a month, basically to come over and take notes. I learned a lot.
“One of the reasons I learned so much, so fast, was because of the guidance of Keith Patridge at the EDC. Great guy. Great tutor. And all his team. What can I say about Janie and Ralph. Very good friends, very smart people. Thanks to them, we were able to lease out 480,000 of warehouse space in Mission to Black & Decker.”
Janie Cavazos handles business recruitment and expansion in McAllen and surrounding communities for McAllen EDC. Ralph Garcia does the same thing in Reynosa.
Black & Decker
Spamer has a property in Mission that he used to use to store export-bound cotton. Last year he was approached by MEDC about leasing the property.
“They had a client. They could not tell me who it was. Now, everybody knows it was Black & Decker. It was being lucky, it was being blessed. We had exactly what Black & Decker needed.
“People ask me how I do it. I said, first I have to give credit where credit is deserved. It was brought to me by the McAllen EDC and we were able to make a good negotiation with Black & Decker. They needed the warehouse and I was able to move my cotton someplace else. We moved it to Alamo and Raymondville. That is why we need 210,000 square feet in Weslaco.”
After several rounds of negotiations with Black & Decker, Spamer approached the City of Mission. He said he got great support from the mayor, Norberto ‘Beto’ Salinas.
“Beto Salinas is the greatest. A very good friend of mine. He is smart as well. You have to have smart mayors and this guy is very smart. He immediately saw the opportunity, he immediately backed us with the project. He did great. He landed some incredible deals for Black & Decker. He was probably the one that was able to close the deals for Black & Decker. I could not be more grateful for Beto Salinas, for (McAllen) Mayor (Jim) Darling, for Keith Partridge, Mayor Hernandez, Marie McDermott. I would not be here if it was not for the goodwill and support of all these nice people.”
Asked what makes his businesses successful, Spamer says the key is reacting to the needs of the marketplace.
“I always try to explain that we are driven by the market. We have been able to get online with the market demands. That is why we have been successful. We see a niche, we see how the marketing is growing and moving and then we jump on it. We make our move and we have been successful at it.”
Spamer said he also dabbles in real estate, but that is more a hobby. “It has become a very expensive hobby,” he joked.
Asked about exporting cotton to Vietnam, which is one of his newest ventures, Spamer said: “We can do this when we have a local crop. The end of July, first week of August, that is when we have the cotton, South Texas cotton. We believe all the companies in south Texas and north Tamaulipas that want to export to Asia can take advantage of this new route we have established, on the west coast of Mexico.”