One of the largest public refrigerated warehousing companies in North America with 37 million cubic feet, Henningsen Cold Storage Co. leads the industry in reliability, service, quality and commitment. Pat Whiteman reports.
For the 84-year-old Henningsen Company it is not technology or new services that it claims as the secret to its success. For this Hillsboro, Ore.-based company its longevity is based on something much more. “There is more to quality warehousing than just four walls,” says Tony Lucarelli, executive vice president for Henningsen Cold Storage Co. “We recognize that even state-of-the-art facilities and equipment need to be augmented with exceptional customer service. Our industry is one in which there are many alternatives for those seeking cold storage space. Henningsen has always sought to rise above the rest by serving as the leading edge in cold storage service and solutions. Cold storage is actually one of those industries where if you’re doing a good job you’re out of sight, out of mind.”
The fourth-generation family-owned Henningsen is closely held and offers a wide variety of warehousing and logistics services including freezer, cooler and dry storage, blast and room freezing, specialized product handling, cross docking, transloading, import/export services, shipment consolidation and load pooling.
The Henningsen story begins at the turn of the century when the family, including three-year-old Waldemar, emigrated from Denmark, settled in Nebraska, and started a creamery known as Henningsen Produce Co. Waldemar who later became known as Walter, later moved to Portland and purchased an ice plant in 1923. That early business was the predecessor to Henningsen Cold Storage Co. The company grew, particularly during World War II, when demands for food storage and production were especially high.
In 1973 a new Henningsen Cold Storage Co. emerged under the management of the family’s third generation, Michael E. Henningsen, Sr., grandson of the founder. Henningsen Sr. expanded the company’s existing facilities and helped it regain a more extensive customer base in the frozen food industry. Numerous facility openings happened over the next several decades and Henningsen now has locations in Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
Much of Henningsen’s growth has been prompted by its customers’ requests. “Historically our strategy has been to locate our facilities near our manufacturers so we can provide cost effective warehouse facilities for them, thus helping them avoid putting out the capital expenditures for a warehouse themselves,” explains Lucarelli. “At the same time it allows us to work more closely with our customers and grow the core aspect of our business providing third party logistic, transportation and temperature controlled warehousing services. We’re basically trying to grow as our customers are growing and continuing to partner up as their business grows because that could turn into new facilities. We’re also trying to focus more on distribution businesses and development in distribution markets. It’s really a win-win for all involved.”The industry leader is also very active in the frozen food industry with participation in the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), the National Frozen Food Association (NFFA), Northwest Food Processors Association, International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (IARW), The World Food Logistics Organization (WFLO), and The World Group. “We are eager to respond to growth and expansion opportunities and are constantly striving to provide the highest quality level of services for our customers and the industries we serve,” says Lucarelli.
Henningsen also recently received one of the food industries most coveted awards, the Golden Penguin, during the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association’s annual convention in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes extraordinary dedication, success and innovation in frozen and refrigerated food promotion. Henningsen was recognized for its National Dairy Month campaign, which used promotional displays, educational materials, facility tours and product giveaways to promote dairy products to employees and consumers.
Bustling Transportation Division
Responding to a customer request for additional transportation services, Henningsen launched its transportation management division in 2004 to benefit customers and non-customers alike. “We benefit our current customers by providing a total logistics product from storage to transportation to the end user,” says Lucarelli. “Non-storage customers benefit because we have excellent rates, and we have a wide base of carriers to use. And, we do all the legwork. They tell us where to pick up and drop off, and we do all the work. It gives them peace of mind and the time to focus on growing their business.”
The operation, which is non-asset-based, is currently working with several dedicated national carriers to handle the freight. Henningsen Transportation Services offers dry, refrigerated, frozen and flat bed services including full-truckload, less-than-truckload, local shuttle service and back-haul. It is also available for dedicated daily, weekly and monthly service to all points in the lower 48 states and Canada. According to Lucarelli, the benefits continue.
“We also can look at a customer’s current transportation situation and recommend solutions to help save them money, even in they don’t want to use us to handle their freight.”
Safe & “Sharp”
In early 2007, two of Henningsen’s facilities in Twin Falls earned membership in the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The company’s manufacturing facility has 47 employees and its distribution center has 38 employees. In addition to its exemplary safety and health management system, the plant has an injury and illness case rate well below the industry average. As a SHARP company, Henningsen’s manufacturing and distribution facilities are exempt from OSHA programmed inspections until Dec. 7, 2008. SHARP is designed to recognize and provide incentives and support to small employers who implement and continuously improve effective safety and health management systems at their work sites.
Make It Happen
When you call a Henningsen company, you won’t get voice mail or any other automated system; you’ll actually get a person on the phone. “What makes us a leader in our industry is our people and our commitment to customer service,” say Lucarelli. “We have been able to continue to not only grow over all these years, but expand to other parts of the country. That is a feat in itself. I really think it has a lot to do with the leadership we have in place and their steadfast dedication to personalized service. We really value it. And we do everything we can to have that service remain consistent throughout our eight facilities so that a client who is doing business with us in Portland will have the same experience as a customer in Pennsylvania.”
Lucarelli attributes an entrepreneurial mentality and an understanding of what the customer wants to much of Henningsen’s accomplishments. “You have to have dedicated people and dedicated leadership. And on behalf of your customers you need to be willing to change and be flexible. We have a ‘make-it-happen’ attitude. We care about every customer and the products they are shipping. I hear stories about how carriers don’t call back; they miss their loading appointments and no one knows for hours and hours what is happening with their loads. We are in constant communication with our carriers and customers. That can make all the difference to a customer.”