Business View Magazine interviews Tony Lucarelli, EVP of Henningsen Cold Storage Co. as part of our focus on best practices in American business.
One of the largest public refrigerated warehousing companies in the U.S., the Henningsen Cold Storage Co. was originally founded in 1923 by Waldemar F. Hennisgsen, Sr., and was formerly known as Henningsen Enterprises, Inc. Today, the company, now in its fifth generation of Henningsen ownership and operation, delivers refrigerated logistics through a national warehouse network totaling 60 million cubic feet of multi-temperature controlled storage. “We started off our business as an ice company, back in the 1920s, and we provided refrigeration services, at the time, for produce and shipments of perishable products,” says Executive Vice President, Tony Lucarelli. “Nowadays, we are a cold storage company; we store frozen food products and we still actually store ice.”
Headquartered in Hillsboro, Oregon, Henningsen Cold Storage has frozen and refrigerated facility locations in Portland, Salem, and Forest Grove, Oregon; Kent and Richland, Washington; Twin Falls, Idaho; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Stillwell, Oklahoma; and Scranton, Pennsylvania. “Most of our footprint is in the Pacific Northwest,” says Lucarelli. “We’ve got 11 facilities and eight of them are in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. We have about 350 associates, company-wide, and over 300 active clients throughout our organization. The majority of our clientele are food manufacturing companies that require frozen or refrigerated storage for their food and beverage products. They need to store them somewhere before they get them sold and shipped to their customers. We provide that interim step in the supply chain, right after production.”
Lucarelli reports that the company has experienced substantial growth over the last few years. “In 2014, we added 25 percent more capacity onto our network and we added at least 25 percent more staffing to our mix,” he states. “This year, we opened up a new facility in Salem, Oregon; it’s our second facility in Salem. Our first one was opened in 2014. So, we’re really trying to stay ahead of the curve where there are requirements from our current customer base, as well as growing where we have strengths, already, which is our backyard: Salem and Portland, Oregon, and the northwest in general. Location is a key factor in our ability to serve clients, so we have to be located in a proximity that makes sense for the customer. We want to make sure we’re strong and their number one choice.”
Another differentiating factor that separates Henningsen Cold Storage from the competition is its clean, professional, and state-of-the-art facilities. In fact, its first Salem, Oregon facility was the first one of its locations to receive a Safe Quality Foods (SQF) Level 2 Certification. Administered by the Food Marketing Institute and recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), SQF is a meticulous food safety management system that allows food safety and quality systems to be verified and validated throughout the food supply chain. SQF is recognized by retailers, food service providers, and regulatory agencies around the world, and is the only Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standard that offers a separate approach that incorporates a quality certification component.
Lucarelli says that it is the company’s goal that all of its facilities will be similarly certified over the next several years. “Today, we have three of our facilities certified – soon to be five, within the next six to twelve months,” he says. “We feel that some point in time, it’s probably going to be a requirement by many clients of ours that we have some sort of certification like this. So, we’ve invested the time, staffing, resources, and capital costs to do that program, and we’re ahead of the curve. Many companies in our industry aren’t doing that, but we feel that’s something that helps us stand out. We have had, and still do have, a number of various third party audits done at our facilities, as well – groups like the American Sanitation Institute and the American Institute of Baking, and those all work fine. But neither of those goes to the level of the GFSI. So, we’re ratcheting it up one notch from where we already are. It takes an investment and commitment on the company’s part from the top down.”
Henningsen Cold Storage is also a member of the Global Cold Chain Alliance. “That is our industry’s primary industry association,” Lucarelli says. “Many companies in our industry belong to that; certainly the leading companies that are at the top of their game belong. It’s a global organization, so it brings the cold storage industry together around the world, so we can find out what’s going on in other markets. It also has an educational arm and a technical services arm called the World Food Logistics Organization that provides significant training and educational opportunities for our staff in our facilities for leadership development in our operations. Plus, there’s a big scientific arm as well that the World Food Logistics Organization offers in providing technical assistance for us. So, for example, if we have a call to store a certain type of product, and we haven’t done it before, we can go to that organization, learn about the resources, learn about the technical aspects of storing and handling that product. That’s been a key partnership for us in the past and we look for that to be in the future, as well.”
Finally, there is the company’s high level of customer service. “We partner with our customers to find out what their needs are and try to meet those needs, specifically, as opposed to just being a transactional company,” Lucarelli says. “At the end of the day, that’s really what we have that stands out from somebody else that has cold space, down the road.”
In addition to completing SQF certification for all of its facilities, Lucarelli says that, going forward, the company is focusing on ways that it can be more efficient in all of its operations. “Everything from the way we build the buildings, to the way we operate them, to the way we manage energy in our facilities, and the way we utilize our staffing. And trying to be as sustainable as we can in all matters, so that we’re not just looking at five years ahead, we’re looking at decades ahead. We’ve sustained ourselves for 90-plus years and we want to be situated to achieve another 90-plus years.”
In summation, Lucarelli points to the company’s signal strengths. “We’re a closely held, family-owned and -operated business that is professionally managed and a leader in our industry,” he declares. “We are focused on our customers’ requirements and their success, so we can be successful, as well. We have an ability to grow and expand, and provide new services and offerings in other locations besides the ones we’re in today.”
That’s why the Henningsen Cold Storage can say with confidence: “Relax, it’s handled!”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Henningsen Cold Storage Co.
WHAT: A refrigerated warehousing and storage company
WHERE: Hillsboro, Oregon