Special Warehousing and Storage, NEC

SIC 4226

Industry report:

This category includes establishments primarily engaged in the warehousing and storage of special products, not elsewhere classified, such as household goods, automobiles (dead storage only), furs (for the trade), textiles, oil, chemicals, lumber, whiskey, and goods at foreign trade zones. Warehouses primarily engaged in blending wines are classified in SIC 5182: Wine and Distilled Alcoholic Beverages.

The special warehousing and storage industry is a heterogeneous group of companies serving a variety of niche-oriented markets. Businesses in this industry serve clients with both specific and unique storage needs. Because of this diversity, changes in the types of firms in operation occur frequently. In 2009 establishments engaged in the category of "other warehousing and storage" generated $2.5 billion in revenues, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Spurred by expanding international trade, the industry grew at a slow but steady pace through the first decade of the 2000s, having recorded revenues of $2.1 billion in 2001.

The majority of special warehousing and storage businesses have traditionally been involved in petroleum bulk storage and oil and gasoline storage. Most of those warehouses were located in the vicinity of oil refineries in Texas and Oklahoma. A growing trend in the industry, however, was the steadily rising number of firms offering storage services at foreign trade zones. These facilities had expanded their services in the early years of the first decade of the 2000s in response to increasing international trade. These foreign trade zone warehouses frequently are operated by companies whose primary business is custom house brokerage, classified in SIC 4731: Arrangement of Transportation of Freight and Cargo.
In the early twenty-first century, the special warehousing and storage industry sustained growth by expanding storage for a variety of goods, including records storage, automobiles (particularly processing sites for imported vehicles), and chemical products. Industry leaders demonstrating the diversity of activities in this industry included Iron Mountain Inc., based in Boston; Auto Warehousing Company (AWC), of Tacoma, Washington; and Vopak Terminals North America, based in Houston, Texas.

One of the largest records storage and information management companies, Iron Mountain Inc., was involved with storing paper documents, computer disks and tapes, microfilm and microfiche, audio and videotapes, film, X-rays, and blueprints, among other items, for more than 150,000 customers worldwide. Iron Mountain had 2010 sales in excess of $3.1 billion, a little more than half of which was from storage (the other portion was from service). The company employed 9,800 people.

Auto Warehousing Company, one of the largest auto import processors in the United States, stored and processed more than 4.3 million vehicles annually in the early 2010s. In 2005 AWC signed a long-term lease with the Port of Portland, Oregon, to further expand its operations, and in 2007 the company forged an alliance with Port Richmond, California. By 2011 the company had 20 locations in the United States.

Vopak Terminals North America operated a network of terminals in major deep water ports, offering more than 14 million barrels of storage capacity for liquid and gaseous chemical and oil products. A division of Netherlands-based Royal Vopak, the world's largest independent tank terminal operator, Vopak Terminals North America in Houston formed a hub with the ports of Rotterdam/Antwerp and Singapore for a worldwide network of 80 tank terminals with a total storage capacity in excess of 2 million cubic meters.

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