Big Money Rustlers

Global logistics firm Farren moves building components around the world

Farren stores hundreds of glass facade panels in its two outdoor storage facilities in New Jersey, both measuring dozens of acres. (Courtesy Farren International)
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Farren International, a one-stop-shop logistics operation founded in 1959, has carved a niche for itself shipping extra-extra-large items. Operating across most of the European Union, North America, and the United Arab Emirates, the outfit transports over one million tons per year globally by plane, train, and automobile (and a significant number of cargo ships). The company’s principal storage facility, a 400,000-square-foot warehouse in Ledgewood, New Jersey, is littered with shrink-wrapped Chinook helicopters, stacks of Yamasaki motorcycles, and 30-foot power turbines, among other items. Over the last decade, Farren International has embedded itself in leading mega-developments across New York City, transporting all of the facade cladding for towers such as New York’s Freedom Tower, and 15 and 55 Hudson Yards.

With a fleet of 75 heavy-duty brand trucks, such as Oshkosh, Peterbilt, and Kenworth, Farren International has established itself as an expert in the transport of superloads—an indivisible load surpassing 16 feet in height and width, 125 feet in length, and in excess of 200,000 pounds—or as CEO and president of Farren International, Phil Antonucci, puts it, cargo that is “high, wide, and heavy.”

Aerial photo of an outdoor storage lot

Farren stores hundreds of glass facade panels in its two outdoor storage facilities in New Jersey, both measuring dozens of acres. (Courtesy Farren International)

The herculean task of corralling facade components from across the globe is often overlooked in the construction process: It includes the warehousing of thousands of tons of material in an orderly fashion and ultimately shipping components to construction sites. An in-house workshop at the New Jersey facility—hidden behind countless shelves and mountains of cargo, including enormous turbines and transformers—is charged with customizing flatbeds and other means of specialized transport for particular items.

Considering the sheer lumbering mass of these transports—formats include tandem trucks hauling up to 140-foot-long modular trailers—plotting routes is akin to planning a minor military campaign. Scouts armed with measuring instruments and high poles spend up to one month at a time surveying potential routes, testing corners and overpass heights to ensure that convoys arrive at their location undamaged and on time.

15 Hudson Yards

Photo of several glassy skyscrapers

15 Hudson Yards, pictured to the right. (Courtesy Timothy Schenk)

Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s recently completed 15 Hudson Yards is a 910-foot-tall residential skyscraper clad in a multitude of facade materials. For the project, Farren International collaborated with Related Companies–affiliated New Hudson Facades to transport curtain wall panels to the construction site. Assembled just south of Philadelphia, the panels were first trucked more than 100 miles to Farren’s multi-acre storage facilities in New Jersey. Over the course of two years, Farren shipped approximately 36 panels a day to the construction team on the ground for erection, with the panels weighing between 3,000 and 5,000 pounds each.

Transformer Transport

A tractor trailer truck

A 415,000-pound transformer being wheeled through the streets of Rochester. (Courtesy Farren International)

When Farren International is not transporting hundreds of tons of facade components or hulking military equipment, the logistics operation is moving crucial infrastructural components across the globe. In 2016, the team plotted the journey of a 415,000-pound transformer from a manufacturer in Brazil to Port Newark in New Jersey. From this juncture, the team loaded the transformer onto a barge that was pushed up the Hudson River and through the Erie Canal to Rochester, New York. Once on land, the transformer was lifted onto a Goldhoffer trailer, pushed forward by two tandem Oshkosh trucks, and installed at a local electrical substation.

Chinook Helicopters

A helicopter on a flatbed truck

A Chinook helicopter being transported via flatbed truck. (Courtesy Columbia Helicopters)

The CH-47 Chinook is a 99-foot-long heavy lift helicopter with a potential payload of over 10 tons. When decommissioned by the United States Armed Forces and other purchasers of Boeing’s military-industrial wares, Chinooks begin new lives as civilian aircraft. Since 2014, Farren International has transported dozens of these double-rotor helicopters—2,500 miles on land from Meridianville, Alabama, to Columbia Helicopters in Oregon—on their fleet of flatbed trucks with an in-house-designed set of fittings and equipment, including customized nose and wheel cradles and upgraded lifting devices. In addition to the Chinook, Farren International transports a motley crew of smaller aircraft, including the Sikorsky S-92, the UH-60 Blackhawk, and even decommissioned Air Force Ones.

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