Companies in this industry provide inland water transportation of cargo on US lakes, rivers, or intracoastal waterways. Major companies include independents, such as American Commercial Barge Line, Ingram Barge, and Kirby Inland Marine, and captive subsidiaries of companies that transport commodities, such as American River Transportation (owned by Archer Daniels Midland).
Demand is driven primarily by the level of agricultural exports, petroleum refining, coal usage, and chemical shipments. Large companies have advantages in handling a broad range of cargo types, along with economies of scale in purchasing and marketing. Small companies compete by specializing in particular cargo types or services, subcontracting to larger companies, and offering responsive customer service. The US industry is highly concentrated: the largest 50 companies generate about 95% of industry revenue.
Products, Operations & Technology
Major services are freight transportation (80% of industry revenue) and towing and tugboat services (20%). Freight transportation services consist of dry cargo (such as grain, coal, steel, fertilizers, and aggregates) and liquid cargo (refined petroleum products, petrochemicals, black oils, and agricultural chemicals).