Partner Highlights

Partner Highlight - Cleveland's Glowing Silos: Heidelberg Materials' Hub for Sustainable Cement Supply

Partner Highlight - Cleveland's Glowing Silos: Heidelberg Materials' Hub for Sustainable Cement Supply

The twin, glowing silos on Dock 20 at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River are among the most visible structures on the Cleveland waterfront.  They hold cement powder and are home base to the Port of Cleveland’s longest-tenured tenant – Heidelberg Materials – which provides the raw materials needed to make concrete for projects across Northeast Ohio.  

Heidelberg Materials is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of building materials.  They have leased the silos since 1997 and will continue to operate there through 2047. 

The silos hold 12,900 metric tons of finely milled cement powder, the primary raw material in the production of cement.  The cement arrives via vessel from a cement plant in Picton, Ontario, and is blown into the silos upon arrival.  

Heidelberg Materials also operates other inland facilities in Ohio and across the nation, but they emphasize the benefits of their waterfront location for local companies. 

“Shipping via vessel is a more cost effective mode of transportation and it is significantly more sustainable,” said Bill Corcoran, VP of Logistics for Heidelberg Materials North America.  “A ship can carry 100 tons of materials, while a truck can carry 10 tons and a rail car can handle 10,000.  We can operate more efficiently via the port, and that benefits our customers as well.”

The raw materials are used by ready-mix concrete companies, precast concrete producers and general contractors for projects across Northeast Ohio.  

An average of 40-50 trucks pick up about 10 tons of cement each day at the Port’s Dock 20, though it could vary per season.

The silos are operated by two Heidelberg Materials employees but support dozens, if not hundreds, of indirect jobs including truck drivers, maintenance workers, laborers, and other contractors. 

In 2016, the 150-foot tall silos were artistically lit by the Port of Cleveland to create a public art display known as “Harbor Lights” ahead of the Republican National Convention. “These are industrial facilities, but we are also passionate about creating an inviting waterfront for residents and visitors,” said Port CEO William Friedman.



Partner Highlight - OmniTRAX

Partner Highlight - OmniTRAX

The railroad work OmniTRAX does with the Port of Cleveland has increased substantially since 2019, when the company purchased the Cleveland Port Railway.

“We handled a total of about 199 (railroad) car loads in 2023,” said Nate Mazo, General Manager at Cleveland & Cuyahoga Railway, Cleveland Port Railway, Newburgh and South Shore Railroad and Northern Ohio and Western Railway, all part of OmniTRAX. That compares to 75 to 80 car loads prior to COVID. “Any time you are able to double rail traffic at a location, that’s a huge accomplishment.”

Cleveland Port Railway manages all rail switching services at the Port and is an affiliate of OmniTRAX Inc., one of the largest privately held rail-centric transportation and logistics service companies in North America. The Port of Cleveland is one of several Ports OmniTRAX is working at.

Mazo said steel is the primary cargo they work with at the Port of Cleveland, but they have also handled the recent addition of palm oil shipments going to a Lake County-based manufacturer. They occasionally do dimensional — or oversize — shipments, most recently several large transformers heading to a power generating station in Lordstown.

“We have a great relationship with the folks at the Port of Cleveland,’’ he said, noting that they are constantly talking with them about new opportunities and projects.