Cardillo building legacy of growth, diversification at Contanda
By DYLAN Krieger, Associate Editor
In October 2016, Westway Terminals became Contanda Terminals LLC to signal the journey the company would embark on to transform itself from an agriculturally focused terminalling services business to a major provider of bulk storage and terminalling services with expanded product lines and markets, including petrochemicals and hydrocarbons.
According to President and CEO G.R. (Jerry) Cardillo, the name change positioned the company for significant growth into new storage markets. "Within the next five years, Contanda plans to double its overall capacity by leveraging organic growth and greenfield projects across North America," said Cardillo. The existing storage portfolio consists of 35-percent petrochemical and energy-focused, with the remaining products focused on base oils, food-grade products, methanol, acids, caustics, and agriculture. Over the next five years, Contanda will significantly increase the volume of petrochemical and energy-based storage through the planned greenfield projects.
As part of this growth strategy to diversify its portfolio into a wider array of commodity storage products, Contanda Terminals recently acquired Contanda Steel.
"We're focusing on petrochemicals and hydrocarbons, but when we talk about steel, it's no different than caustic soda or olive oil or vegetable oil; we are receiving product via ship, unloading it, storing it in warehouses and - per customer request - reloading it on trucks to be delivered wherever they are," Cardillo explained. "It's a different commodity line but the same business, which is the receipt, storage and redelivery of commodities. We're excited about the opportunity, and we're looking forward to it being part of our portfolio."
Contanda's soon-to-be doubled capacity is what Cardillo would like his leadership strategy to be remembered for, he said, stating his legacy would ideally be "to focus the organization on our growth platform to double the overall company capacity and expand into the hydrocarbon and petrochemical market as a leader in bulk terminal storage."
'Fostering trust' among employees, customers
In establishing his legacy, Cardillo pointed to several key leadership dictums he follows and would share with any up-and-coming business executive to ensure success. "Leadership is about mentoring, developing and caring for people that form the nucleus of the business," Cardillo asserted. "I have always tried to develop a style that fosters trust and confidence within the team."
Cardillo offers those starting out the following guidelines:
- Careers take time to build, so be patient.
- Instant gratification is not something that carries forward in most corporate roles.
- Do not fear failure; understand your failures and develop and grow from them.
- Look people in the eye and communicate; do not text or email about delicate or sensitive issues.
- Take advantage of every opportunity for training and continuing your education.
- Hard work, transparency, and clear and concise upward communication are very important.
- Treat others like you want to be treated; one never knows who they will be working for or with in the future.
- Honesty and integrity are critical success attributes that only you can control.
- You must be passionate about your role and exert a sense of urgency in everything you do.
- If you are not happy in your current role, consider a change, as careers to a certain extent are self-directed.
Cardillo indicated he learned these lessons firsthand in several positions he held prior to joining Contanda as president and CEO in April 2016.
"I started my energy career in 1981, and I spent time expanding my knowledge base by pursuing various diverse career opportunities at Chevron, Koch Industries and Enterprise Products," he recounted. "I was with Enterprise Products for the past 16 years and oversaw an extensive array of petrochemical and logistics asset teams. I also served as the president of Enterprise's marine and trucking groups and oversaw a 2,000-rail-car fleet and a pipeline and terminal optimization team. I have an extensive track record in growing and successfully expanding businesses in terminals, marine, rail and truck transportation logistics, and petrochemicals, which complements the growth of Contanda."
According to Cardillo, 'fostering trust' among employees involves a careful balance of hands-on and hands-off oversight. "I organize myself each day by preparing a daily outline of short-term goals for myself and my team," he explained. "With 15 terminals across North America and various growth projects being reviewed, this position requires the ability to be observant and delegate, but most importantly to trust and allow employees to do their jobs."
Another lesson Cardillo views as crucial to overseeing Contanda's operations is providing outstanding customer service to every one of the company's wide array of clients.
"Contanda Terminals is focused on customer service and meeting our customers' expectations with every drop of product handled by our terminals," he said. "We work with our customers to optimize their logistics in the safest and most cost-effective manner. Our marketing team is divided into two separate groups: one focused on servicing existing business and the other on petrochemical and hydrocarbon growth. Contanda offers a Strategic Customer Program, which provides detailed reports and meetings to regularly review our customers' expectations and plans for the future. This allows both parties to plan for future growth as required."
A major part of providing consistently excellent customer service, Cardillo maintained, is be willing and able to admit when management has made a mistake. "Business is not always fair, and on occasion management makes mistakes," he acknowledged. "I have a lot of respect for those leaders that recognize their mistakes and make efforts to correct them.
"We strive to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations as we grow with them, and I always desire to build on that in the future."
Overcoming terminal industry challenges
One of the biggest challenges Cardillo's encountered in striving to remain an industry leader in the terminals business is the ever-changing nature of the market. "Meeting the needs of the changing commodity storage markets and their demands for various modes of transport is the biggest challenge facing this profession," he shared. "We are constantly trying to enhance our terminal infrastructure and technology to optimize product flow through the terminal."
"The terminal industry is an ever-changing industry, as the hydrocarbon and chemical logistics grow around the country. Over recent years, terminals are being pushed to an automated process across the board. As our customers' requirements increase, we are evolving our capabilities with them. The terminal industry is satisfying, as we find logistical solutions for our customers’ product flow across the world. We are their link to their customers."
Looking ahead, Cardillo emphasized the importance of staying on top of industry changes and incorporating technological advancements whenever possible in order to stand out from the competition. And as a board member of the Greater Houston Port Bureau, he works diligently to stay abreast of such innovations.
"Terminals have to continue to incorporate automation in everyday operations to optimize economics and efficiency for our customers' product flow," Cardillo said. "Our terminals will need to be flexible and adapt to the needs of the hydrocarbon and chemical industry as it evolves through various production changes."
BIC Magazine – March 1, 2017