C-River Logistics

From stevedoring to terminal handling and more, C-River Logistics is a one-stop shop for transportation services.

When companies are shipping goods from one location to another, there are several logistical issues to consider. Often, these issues are more than one company can handle — but at Metairie’s C-River Logistics, they provide a package of transportation services including barge service, barge chartering, trucking, stevedoring, rail services, terminal services, and more for their clients.

C-River Logistics is the brainchild of its president, Pamela Cascio, who has worked in the industry since 1978. Shipping is in Cascio’s blood: Her father was a senior vice president for a shipping agency and her husband currently works for a shipping agency as well. In the late 1990s, after working for a barge company headquartered in St Louis, she left that job and founded C-River Logistics in 1999.

“I took the leap and I started my own company,” Cascio said. Many of the clients and contacts Cascio accumulated through her career followed her to her new business.

In February 2001, Cascio sold the business to SSA Marine in Seattle, one of the largest stevedoring companies in the world. SSA started in 1949 as a family-owned cargo-handling company in Bellingham, WA and then became a global enterprise that spans more than 250 locations across five continents. Cascio still runs her three-person office at C-River Logistics in Metairie under the SSA umbrella; however, she feels C-River works better within SSA Marine because the Seattle company has more contacts, and she feels that together, they can offer more services to their customers.

Cascio said C-River’s work is important because many companies often fail to plan anything other than the barge aspect of the shipping journey. There is frequently a reason for this oversight: When many larger companies go through layoffs, they often let go of operational employees. These are the employees that would typically handle the logistics of barge, trucking, rail services, terminal handling and storage requirements, and more. When such situations arise, SSA can provide the important “incidental” services.
“It’s a one-stop shop,” Cascio said. “A lot of times, what the shippers want is not what barge companies can provide on their own.”

As an example of what C-River offers, Cascio said most companies’ traffic managers are so overwhelmed with dealing with ports all over the world that they are unable to keep up with day-to-day activities. But C-River can arrange stevedoring at the arrival port; transportation via barge, truck or rail; unloading at inland terminals and transportation to the final destination. Customers also receive daily updates that include river conditions, lock/dam forecasts and more. C-River monitors these conditions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Cascio said their location in Metairie is also optimal for business.

“We are located in the best region for our company, as most barge loadings are done in New Orleans and the Port of South Louisiana,” Cascio said.

Cascio said that SSA frequently uses the Port of South Louisiana for its shipping needs, which is mostly made up of dry bulk shipments — but they also transport steel, aluminum, stone and other materials. Cascio said the Port of South Louisiana is convenient and easy to work with through the entire process, as they are always easy to get in touch with if there is a question or a problem, more so than many other ports.

“The Port of South Louisiana works like clockwork,” Cascio said.

Even though she has worked in the shipping industry for over 40 years, Cascio said the work has never gotten old or monotonous for her. She said each assignment presents its own unique set of challenges. Clients sometimes change itineraries at the last moment, and she must scramble to adjust plans. The drafts of the river can change with each journey, and they must account for it every step of the way. There are seemingly endless variables to consider: A lock on the river might unexpectedly be down with no timetable on when it will go back up. It’s not always easy, but it’s never boring.

“I learn something new every day,” Cascio said. “There’s always a new problem to solve.”