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Barge Cover Handling: What You Need to Know

April 18, 2019

When you are shipping materials in covered barges, not all river locations have the equipment needed to remove and re-cover (spread) your barge covers. In order to ensure your shipment is handled properly, you need to pick the right company. Use the information below to help you find the right barge cover handling service.

Barge Cover Removal

Removing barge covers is important in order for loading, unloading or barge cleaning. There are different types of barges with different covers, so it’s very important that you find a company that has the experience and equipment in removing your barge cover. Contact the company and provide them with information about your barge and see if they can remove the covers for you. Finding the right company can help your project stay on schedule.

Barge Cover Storage

Once your barge has been loaded or unloaded and cleaned, you’ll need to replace the barge covers in order to return them in good order back to the barge company. Make sure your provider can replace/spread your covers in a timely fashion to avoid paying demurrage.

At Ozinga, our Lemont and Calumet Park locations are fully equipped to handle your barge covers while also shifting to facilitate loading and unloading. Contact our logistics specialists today to learn more.

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Our company prides itself on the investment we make in our people, starting with the very first day of employment. Every Monday at Ozinga, we have a day-long onboarding session for new coworkers. During this experience, new coworkers are not only set up with all the administrative aspects of starting their career with us, but also learn about the values and history of our company in a personal and engaging way. Someone from the Ozinga family, often from the third and fourth generation of ownership, meets and talks with the new coworkers to share stories, discuss our future and answer questions. For me, this opportunity is one of the highlights of my week. I find it holds me accountable to see the new faces of our coworkers, look them in the eye, and share with them our commitment as a family.

The following are seven key points I share during onboarding:

  • Thank you and welcome. We know you have a choice of where you can work, particularly when the economic environment allows for such low unemployment. We’re thankful that you chose to come to work with us. Welcome aboard!
  • We’re different because you’re here. In a world of 7.5 billion people, there is only one you. You have unique talents, life experiences, work history and relationships. You have something unique to contribute to this company that only you bring. So not only are we different because you are here, we have new potential that we didn’t have before you arrived…and that is very exciting for us.
  • Here to stay. We are a 91-year-old, fourth-generation American family business. Our desire, Lord willing, is to stay in operation as a family business for another 91+ years. We have no interest in selling out. Rather, our goal is to provide a lasting impact in the lives of our coworkers, customers and communities for generations. Our commitment to you is that as we have success, we will reinvest in you, in equipment and facilities to better serve our customers and serve as a good partner in our local communities. It’s what we love to do.
  • We’re in this together. We are all the beneficiaries of those who have gone before us. We view ourselves as stewards or torch-bearers of the business for a finite period of time. We invite all our coworkers to share that vision as co-stewards with us. It is our desire to pass the torch to the next generation, leaving everything better than when we were entrusted with it. Business can be a force for great good in the world, impacting families and communities in a positive way. Together, we have a tremendous opportunity to leave a legacy that will positively impact future generations of people and the trajectory of our world.
  • We have room for improvement. This company may look like a well-oiled machine from the outside looking in, but once the “new” wears off it is certain you will find opportunities for improvement and change. In fact, because you are unique, you may see things that no one else sees. This is a good thing. Every day we want to get a little bit better than yesterday. With your help, we can do that.
  • You’re joining a great company in a great industry at a great time. Ozinga has established itself as a leader in our industry. This is because of our people. The building materials industry is a very exciting, dynamic, local relationship-focused one. No day is the same. It will be challenging and very rewarding for those who take great pride in it. It is a great time to join and the future is full of potential.
  • Be safe. We know behind every person, every coworker on our team, there are loved ones who count on them. We want to make sure all our people go home at night to them without accident or injury. Safety is a team effort that requires every individual to be aware of their surroundings, to make decisions thoughtfully and to err on the side of safety. As you join the Ozinga family of coworkers, if you ever see something that gives you pause, make sure to take the time to make the necessary and proper precautions. We appreciate each and every one of you – for choosing us, for bringing your unique skills and talents to our team, for helping us to constantly improve – and we want all of you to be safe so that we can continue that work together every day.

I like to believe that this time in our onboarding process helps us stand out from other companies because it shows we take the time to invest in our people and treat them as a part of the Ozinga family. And while I provide guidance and touch on these seven things during my talks with our new coworkers, I know that face-to-face time is equally valuable for me and for Ozinga – listening to and learning from each of our new coworkers, helping us to continue to push the boundaries.

Safety is a number one priority at Ozinga, so we’re passionate about keeping our vehicles in prime running condition to protect our drivers and get our customers what they need in a timely fashion. To that end, we’ve recently introduced Digital Fleet’s electronic Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR) system at several of our Wisconsin, Florida, and Illinois plants to help identify vehicle operation and safety issues.

In September 2018, Digital Fleet released a software update that included the electronic Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports system. EDVIR allow drivers to complete and submit daily vehicle inspections via an in-vehicle tablet. The device electronically details pre-trip and post-trip inspections and sends a digital report directly to a mechanic’s email address.

“Customers were asking for the ability to capture vehicle inspection reports electronically—we listened and delivered,” said Tim Oakes, Digital Fleet President. “Using Digital Fleet allows our customers to see real-time information as it’s submitted by drivers; those issues can then be easily prioritized and worked on in an efficient manner.”

Ozinga used to track vehicle inspections and maintenance requests with a paper form. Drivers would conduct vehicle inspections and submit the paper form to the mechanic, but storing the forms for so many trucks became a logistical nightmare.

“Some of them (paper forms) get lost, they get wet, they get damaged . . . which is why doing it electronically like this is so important,” said Robert Davidsen, Mobile Device Supervisor at Ozinga.

The system is especially handy for Ozinga yards that don’t have a mechanic on-site. Now when their vehicles need maintenance, a mechanic is automatically notified once the driver fills out the EDVIR, and the vehicle can be fixed sooner.

“The big thing is it allows for two-way communication between drivers and mechanics,” added Davidsen. “And it keeps our records DOT-compliant.”

We hope to have the EDVIR system fully rolled out at all Ozinga locations by June 2019.

Let’s take a trip back into time to the late 1950s when gas was 30 cents a gallon, The Bridge on the River Kwai, South Pacific, and Ben Hur reigned at the box office, and Ozinga had only recently abandoned coal production and entered the concrete business.

At 95th Street and Troy Avenue in Evergreen Park stood a marvel of advertising technology: a 20-foot, double-sided backlit marquee sign. But instead of advertising sand, stone, or bags of cement, Martin Ozinga Jr. decided to use the marquee to showcase words of wisdom that caught people’s attention or made them think. “The idea of a marquee sign was kind of a new concept then. Of course there were no electronic message boards like we have now,” said Martin Ozinga III, former Ozinga president and current chairman of the board.

Eight to nine-inch plastic letters equipped with grooves to hook onto the sign’s metal bars were used to spell out homespun sayings that might inspire or put a smile on the faces of potential customers driving past the sign, including the gems below:

  • “The best thing you can spend on your children is time”
  • “One thing you can give and still keep is your word”
  • “You can’t win by trying to even the score”

One memorable update featured the message, “Don’t you dare look at the other side of this sign” on one side, with the other side bearing the old adage “Curiosity killed the cat.” Both sides of the sign were updated at least once a week, and it was a painstaking two-hour process where a 15-foot pole with a tweezer grip was used to remove the old letters and update both sides with new phrases.

The sign was an immediate hit. So much so that when Ozinga relocated its headquarters to 127th Street in Alsip, Illinois, in 1961, a new sign topped with the iconic red and white Ozinga truck was erected outside the new location. Throughout the years, the sign was updated with hundreds of sayings.

While the legendary Alsip location closed in 1996, we kept a record of all the sayings that ever appeared on the signs and we’re still using them to inspire our coworkers and visitors!

Each month, our graphic design team pairs several sayings with corresponding images that are then shared on our intranet, on TV screens throughout our office locations, and on our social media pages. At Ozinga we treasure our company’s history and the continued influence of previous Ozinga generations.

While driver training is the norm in fleet management, Ozinga wants to ensure our mechanics are regularly trained as well. Our 80+ mechanics keep our fleets up and running and make sure our drivers reach our customers safely and on time, so it’s important they know how to maintain our vehicles and keep them in good working condition.

To keep them sharp, all Ozinga mechanics attend the annual Spring Training, now in its fourth year, to promote further education in their specialized field.

“The goal of our Spring Training is to give our technicians an opportunity to strengthen their skills and knowledge base and, in turn, help them improve their overall job performance,” said Jeff Bonnema, Ozinga’s Vice President of Fleet Management. “This falls in line with Ozinga’s commitment to investing in our people and initiating positive changes in the way we operate.”

Our technicians received service training with Fleet Coordinator Ed Jongsma, parts training with Lead Parts Specialist Nick Gorczynski, and Digital Fleet training with Mobile Device Supervisor Robert Davidsen. Warranty Administrator Areli Lopez provided an overview of warranty procedures and Regional Manager for Safety, Environmental, and Human Resources Justin Kratochvil provided a safety overview.

Vendors were also on-site offering suspension work training (Hendrickson) and an engine presentation (Cummins). Tredroc Tire Services explained proper tire safety procedures.

“With the rapidly changing technology in all of our equipment, it is important to train our technicians throughout the year,” said Jongsma. “The Spring Training allows the Fleet Department to start this process every year. With our viable resources we can expand our techs’ knowledge and skills to better themselves and the company as a whole.”

Logistics is an important operation for many companies. After all, getting your goods into the hands of customers and clients is how your business remains successful. When your shipment involves large or bulk items, you need to ensure you’re choosing the right method of transportation. For some, this includes transloading.

Transloading is the process of moving a shipment from one method of transportation to another, such as moving a shipment from water to rail, water to truck, rail to truck, or vice versa. Transloading allows companies to move the longest leg of transport, such as barge from New Orleans to Chicago, via the most cost-effective mode of transportation, then switch to the appropriate mode for final delivery (such as truck from south Chicago to downtown Chicago). Understanding the benefits of transloading can help ensure you make the right choice for your business’s logistics needs.

1. It’s cost-effective.

When you’re shipping long haul, transloading can be a cost-effective option because it gives you the flexibility to use different shipping methods at competitive prices. For example, since rail is more widely used for long haul, it is typically cheaper to do a long-haul shipment via rail than road. With transloading, you can get the better rate by hauling via rail and then moving the items to a truck when closer to the delivery destination. This allows you to secure the better rate while still getting your shipment where it needs to go.

2. It helps expand your reach.

With transloading, you can use the various shipment methods to reach different areas, both domestically and internationally. For example, if you only rely on rail or road, your shipments may be landlocked. However, transloading allows you to move your shipment from rail or road to water, which can help you reach more destinations and grow your business.

3. It makes shipping more efficient.

Transloading storage facilities create shipment efficiencies for your business. Instead of constantly shipping your items from its point of origin to various locations, you can store the items in a storage facility either near your biggest customers or near your production facility. Then, when an order needs to be fulfilled, you can have it shipped directly from the storage facility to the customer. This will take less time to accomplish and will cost you much less. You’ll enjoy the cost savings, and your customer will enjoy getting their items in a timely fashion.

4. It simplifies your operations.

Shipping bulk or heavy materials can create some challenges, but transloading allows you to consolidate your shipment to make it easier to transport as well as more affordable. For example, what may require 60+ trucks to move could be done using one barge. This not only consolidates your shipment from over 60 to one load, but it can also cost less.

From water to rail to road, transloading provides many benefits to your company that are hard to ignore. Using this method allows you to have a cost-effective way to streamline your shipment, expand your reach, and make your shipping more efficient.

Ozinga offers transloading and other logistics services. If you’re interested in transloading for your business or are looking for more information, contact us today.

Did you know Ozinga is a terminal operator for large quantities of bulk road salt? We’ll handle hundreds of thousands of tons this year alone. As a terminal operator, we can ensure your salt supply is safe and manage your inventory with our state-of-the-art technology.

Once your salt arrives via barge, we accurately measure the weight to be sure you got what you paid for. We also shape your salt pile and methodically check the load to be sure your order is safe from the elements.

Don’t have room to store your bulk road salt but want to be sure it’s safe and properly inventoried? We can help. Our three locations in Lemont, South Chicago, and Calumet Park are completely secure and outfitted with cameras that record all entrances and exits. Our inventory system also allows you to keep track of how much salt we’ve loaded and unloaded for you and how much you have available to sell.

We also use concrete pads to store your bulk road salt. Concrete pads decrease inventory loss while also providing an environmentally safer option than permeable alternatives.

Our transloading capabilities allow us to manage your order from start to finish. We’re a one-stop shop with extensive logistics services from barge transportation and fleeting to loading and unloading. We can also deliver your bulk road salt to your customers using our network of haulers, giving you peace of mind and saving you time by providing every service you could need from one company.

Don’t need long-term storage? We have nine river terminals from Peoria to Chicago that can transload your salt from barge to truck and deliver to your preferred storage location or end customer.

Ozinga is miles ahead of other terminals in terms of the technology and safety we can offer you and your customers. Learn more about our bulk road salt and other offerings.

Barge waterway transportation is the most effective, safe, and green way to move bulk material. Whether you do it often or are considering your first waterways move, there are many benefits that barging can bring the economy and environment. Explore the benefits of moving goods via the Inland Waterway System.


Did you know many of the goods we use every day frequent waterways? In the United States, 60 percent of exported grain, 20 percent of coal, and 22 percent of the nation’s petroleum travel waterways annually. Of that 244 million tons of petroleum, a full barge can carry enough gasoline to fuel 2,500 cars for one year.

The size of the barge makes it the most efficient mode of transportation. A typical barge’s capacity is 15 times more than that of a train car and 60 times more than that of a semi-truck. Because of this, one 15-barge tow reduces congestion by 1,050 trucks and 200 railcars. This saves money too; in 2010, transportation on waterways saved $180 billion and the transportation of 566 million tons of goods. Plus, transporting these goods by barges employs 33,000 Americans.


Waterway travel has significantly lower rates of injury and fatality than alternative modes of transportation. In the years 2001-2009, there were 19.1 rail sector fatalities and 132 highway sector fatalities for every one inland marine sector fatality. For every singular injury in freight transportation occurring in water, 95.3 occur in the rail sector and 1,609.3 occur in the highway sector.


Waterway travel is better for the environment too. Per million ton-miles, trains emit 21.35 tons of CO2, trucks emit 171.83, and barges emit 16.41. Barges are more fuel efficient too. With a single gallon of fuel, they travel 616 ton-miles, while trucks travel 150 and trains travel 478.

Waterways weave through 38 states for 12,000 miles with 192 lock sites. They carry about 600 million tons of cargo every year. Ozinga’s role on these waterways via Middle River Marine, our barging and marine services business, is influential.

Heneghan Wrecking, a 45-year-old family business demolition company, tore down the old Morton Salt building on Wacker Drive earlier this year. With a time-frame of 90 days to complete the project, Heneghan Wrecking finished a week early. They attribute their success to their central Chicago location – knowing local businesses, neighbors, and their urban environment – and Ozinga’s help in navigating the river system.

The most difficult part of demolition isn’t demolishing the building itself, but navigating the environment surrounding it. Patrick Heneghan, President at Heneghan Wrecking, says that sometimes projects seem easy, but on each side of a building “there’s a one-story, fully remodeled, little frame house with flowers out front. When I leave, those flowers, the windows, it has to look the same.”

The role of barges in demolition is vital to improve safety, congestion, and sustainability of the surrounding environment. Each barge holds 1500 tons, or 75 truckloads, which reduces traffic flow and promotes greener transportation. For the demolition with Heneghan Wrecking, Ozinga helped recycle 16,592 tons of material via barge from the old Morton Salt building. Ozinga river and barging services use river systems to reduce fuel use and pollution. Concrete shipped away on barges is often recycled and crushed into stone. This reduces the need for landfills and to retrieve virgin materials from quarries, saving money and the environment. Ozinga recycles crushed concrete into CAC6 stone and uses it as a base under concrete roads, sidewalks, and flooring to reduce their carbon footprint.

Ozinga utilizes barges, tugboats, and experienced personnel to navigate the river system. Heneghan says of Ozinga, “they’re just a pleasure to work with and they have a very experienced team. It’s not their first time maneuvering on the river. That’s a whole other industry. I don’t need to learn it because they have it down.” Our reputation within the Chicago area marks the importance of promoting the safety and sustainability of the community around us.

Ozinga is excited to build Chicago sustainably. From sustainable concrete products to CNG solutions to material transportation, learn more about how we can build sustainably together.

Middle River Marine (MRM), an Ozinga company, christened two boats, the Gwyneth Anne (pictured above) and the Kamryn Olivia (pictured below), at 11 a.m. on August 21 at Joliet Terminal, Terminal Ct. in Joliet, IL. This christening highlighted how the Gwyneth Anne and Kamryn Olivia will both enhance MRM, Ozinga Material and Logistics’ marine services business, and be an added celebration to the fourth-generation family-owned company’s 90th anniversary.

The Gwyneth Anne is the fleet’s fifth boat, introduced in June 2017. The boat is 65 feet long by 28 feet wide by 9 feet deep. It has 1,325 horsepower from two Cummins QSK19-M main engines and the retractable pilothouse is 32 feet. The inside of the Gwyneth Anne boasts brick flooring, granite countertops and three sleeping quarters. Towboat Kamryn Olivia, introduced in 2018, is a retractable-pilothouse boat with Z-drives from ZF Marine. Two Cummins QSK-38 diesel engines provide 2,000 horsepower. The boat is 77 feet long.

The Gwyneth Anne and Kamryn Olivia – named after Ozinga fifth-generation daughters – join the Alivia Faith, Elyse Noelle, Mikayla Skye, and Sydney Reese on the Illinois waterways. These boats help Ozinga’s Materials and Logistics team serve customers from Peoria to Chicago and mark a meaningful milestone in further establishing the importance of waterways in the Midwest.

MRM is a full-service barging and marine services company that operates a network of 9 river-based terminals. Earlier this year, MRM facilitated the demolition of the old Morton Salt building on Wacker Drive in Chicago, utilizing over 10 barges to recycle more than 16,000 tons of material. These barges, equivalent to over 600 semi-trucks, eliminated roadway traffic for more efficient and environmentally friendly transportation. This is just one example of several projects that were completed during the redevelopement along the Chicago River. In 2017, MRM moved over 1,500 barges, reducing Illinois road congestion by over 90,000 semi-trucks.

“The addition of the Gwyneth Anne and Kamryn Olivia have allowed us to provide extremely reliable and responsive levels of service to our customers across the industrial, agricultural, and construction materials markets,” said Aaron Ozinga, President of Ozinga Materials and Logistics. “Our customers expect the highest levels of service, and having these two brand-new boats, which were designed and built to maximize operating efficiencies while minimizing our environmental footprint, have allowed us to achieve excellent operating and service performance this year.”