James “Spanky” Vidrine, manager with Union Tank Car of Ville Platte was the guest speaker at today’s (Tuesday) meeting of the Ville Platte Rotary Club. He was the special guest of Rotarian Dr. Hosea “Joey” Soileau.
Vidrine said the history of Union Tank Car can be traced 128 years ago with the formation of the rail industry with the Rockefeller family needing a rail system to transport oil. Union Tank is the largest rail tank car company in North America.
Union Tank is now owned by the Moorman Company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway whose chairman is the famous billionaire Warren Bufffet. Nationwide, Union Tank has about 3-4,000 people employed.
Union Tank has three divisions: Leasing. The company leases tank cars at about $700 each per month; Manufacturing division with two locations: in Alexandria and a site in Texas. The facilities can produce 20-25 cars a day at a cost of $90,000 each to manufacture. He said the Alexandria site is a huge facility. The third division is the repair unit. Ville Platte is a repair site. There are 11 repair shops throughout the country .
All tank cars, by law, must be serviced, cleaned and refurbished at least every ten years. After 50 years, the tank cars must be scrapped.
The Ville Platte location was opened 51 years ago. The facility is employing about 141 workers with about 75 percent of the crew from the immediate Ville Platte area.