Completing the Railroad

By C.R. Wagner

The section of Route 6 that runs through Wysox is known as the Golden Mile, and has many different businesses which have been established there over the years. But an especially dedicated entrepreneur and his sons saw a golden opportunity just one block south of the Golden Mile, and began to build a business park that will one day certainly make them a legend.

In June 2010, Robert Reeves and his sons Robert Reeves II and Jamison Reeves began what would be three phases of a huge operation to bring more businesses into the area, as well as to bring the railroad back as a means of transporting the commodities of those businesses. They wanted to bring in local and gas related businesses to a central location.

“Towanda/Wysox is the ‘hotspot’ or epicenter of the Marcellus Shale,” Robert Reeves II said.

The Reeves family purchased 16 acres of land from Gary Wickwire that was directly to the south of Route 6 in Wysox.  At that time, only four old buildings existed on the land, which had a partially wooded area on it. The Reeves added two new buildings, and made them available for leasing. 

They also put in a 24 foot wide paved road from Leisure Drive east to Susquehanna Street. Natural gas lines, water and sewer mains, and three phase power was made available to the new buildings and the sites where future buildings would be built. According to Jamison Reeves, three phase power is better suited for commercial and industrial practices. The Reeves named the new well maintained road Wickwire Way after the gentleman from whom they had purchased the land.

As the demand for leasing buildings increased, phase two saw eight more new buildings in place, giving the new business park a total of 14 buildings. Thus, Reeves Business Park was born.

Middendorf Contracting, M.R. Dirt, and D&R Steel were contracted to help build the entire business park.

The Reeves family is very proud of their business park. The ten new buildings, eight of which are currently leased, have approximately 72,000 square feet of warehousing space. But they are more than just warehouses. Each building is open spanned, heated, insulted, has concrete floors, and American Disabilites Approved (ADA) bathrooms. They have 14 foot overhead doors, and have just as much outdoor space as indoor space. Each building is individualized for its tenants needs. And according to the tenants, the Reeves care about their customers and go above and beyond for them.

The Reeves’ first tenant in 2010 was TSI Flow Products, Inc. According to Brian Pond, TSI manager of northeast operations, the Reeves family was very accommodating to all of their needs. When they first moved in they started with a small building but then had to change to something larger as their business grew.

“We needed to make some changes and Robby was very accommodating to us,” Pond said.

TSI needed to fence off an area and put in a bay door, along with a ventilation system for their particular needs. Originally from Texas, they weren’t accustomed to the harsh northern winters.  According to Pond, the Reeves plowed them out and removed snow. They also allowed TSI to use an extra building free of charge when they temporarily needed it during their move to a larger building.

“Any time we needed to borrow a piece of equipment, he (Robert Reeves) was always there for us,” Pond said. “Robby put in a firewall at his own expense to separate the supply business from the iron recertification department.”

Another tenant of Reeves Business Park has additional praise for the Reeves.

“The buildings are great,” said Ken Park from Midwest Hose. “Anything we ask for we can get. He (Robert Reeves) takes really good care of us.”

Reeves Business Park has a synergy amongst its customers that works well for all the businesses that are located there. They all help each other.

“There’s a lot of companies here who use other companies who are here,” Robert Reeves explained.

Reeves Business Park brought new businesses, many involved in the gas industry, which brought another need to the area.

Robert Reeves saw the high truck traffic in Bradford County, and thought it could be reduced somewhat by using rail where it would be appropriate. There was already a rail line owned by Lehigh Railway, LLC out of Owego, New York just south of Reeves Business Park.

Prior to the building of the business park, there were no businesses located there and no need to access the rail at that point.

But now things were different. Business had grown. Robert Reeves’ thoughts moved on to the idea of putting in a railroad siding, or spur that he felt could reduce loaded trucks going through Bradford County, as well as large equipment that would be transported to other states. Almost four or five truckloads of materials can fit into a freight train car, depending upon the type of material.

According to Robert Reeves, the real reduction is in the fuel cost for every company involved in using the rail. Moving goods by rail reduces the cost of the commodities.

“Lehigh Railway has had a desire to put a siding in this location for years. They saw the need as well,” said Robert Reeves. He further explained that the railroad’s traffic has increased five fold because of the cost effectiveness of moving products by train.

“There wasn’t anyone willing to invest in a siding,” Robert Reeves added.

Before the gas industry moved into the area the need wasn’t there. There was nothing to load or unload. And prior to the building of Reeves Business Park, there were no businesses located there. There was no access to the rail line that is just south of the park. Between Reeves Business Park and the rail line was 20 acres of land.

Thus began the Reeves’ phase three. In 2013 they purchased the 20 acres of land and through a joint effort with Tartaglia Railroad Services and Lehigh Railway, set out to build a multi faceted rail siding.

The siding will be on the Reeves’ property, joined to the existing rail line on Lehigh Railway’s property. The siding will be operated by ShaleRail, a part of the Northeast Freight Transfer family of companies.

“Starting September 1, 2013 we entered into an agreement with the Reeves Family to operate the newly rail served industrial park,” explained Thomas Coleman, vice president of business development for ShaleRail. “This is a great opportunity for everyone here in the community whether it is small business or large business.”

Railroad sidings, or spurs have been a major part of railroading worldwide. They store freight cars for loading and unloading.

“Without a siding you can’t load or unload,” Jamison Reeves said.

The multi -faceted nature of the Reeves’ siding is different from other sidings, as many other sidings are built for specific usage, loading and unloading a single product such as sand, but no other products.

As the workers from Targalia Railroad Services started to work on the siding, they first had to remove some of the old railroad ties and insert new ones in. The siding required ties of varying length from nine feet to 16 feet due to the tracks crossing over to tie into the siding.

Since the beginning of this project at the end of September, the weather has been great for the daily progress, which was through mid October.

 “I can’t believe the progress on the rail spur,” said Warren Strohl, who is employed at Washita Valley Enterprises, Inc. which leases a building in Reeves Business Park. “It’s almost complete.”

 The new siding consists of 2,000 linear feet of rail service. It will run approximately 40 feet from the existing rail, allowing loading and unloading from both sides of the cars. This is unique in this area and will be a great benefit to the companies located in Reeves Business Park.

The business park is also planning to put an additional 1,000 feet of stub rail, which is a dead end rail for loading and unloading additional commodities and equipment. They plan to put a ramp at the end of the stub rail so equipment can be driven right off.

Reeves Business Park is a family owned and operated business. They are a family who cares about their customers and the area in which they live and work.

“We are ahead of the curve,” Robert Reeves said proudly.

He was willing to take the risk and so far it seems like a good decision.