More than 200,000 square feet of additional warehouse space is being built at the U.S. Cold Storage plant in Fresno.
Written by Frank Lopez
Since 2007, United States Cold Storage (USCS) in Fresno has been serving the Central Valley for the region’s cold storage needs — and is currently undergoing a major expansion.
An additional 210,630 square foot cold storage warehouse will add 28,000 pallet positions, 20 truck dock doors, a dedicated and racked tempering area to properly temper frozen items, and five convertible rooms capable of reaching -20 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
The current operating warehouse is approximately 500,000 square feet with 62,000 pallet positions and ten, -55 degrees Fahrenheit blast freezers. After current construction is completed, there will be 90,000 pallet positions in total.
The project will cost approximately $40 million. It follows two major expansions that took place in 2009 and 2013.
Rod Noll, USCS Western Region’s Senior Vice President, said past construction came out of a need to better serve customers.
“It was really organic growth from existing customers here,” Noll said. “They just had bigger needs and we anticipated that and we actually added capacity to help us grow with them.”
USCS works with most of the major food companies in and around the Central Valley, such as Foster Farms, Wawona Frozen Foods and Cargill Meat Solutions, and tries to stay ahead of their customer’s growth by expanding their capabilities with them.
New offices and an employee break room are also included.
To track the products that go in and out, USCS attaches each pallet with an RF (radio frequency) tag. Full automation is being closely looked into, but isn’t a viable solution for the operation at this time.
On average, around 60 million pounds of product are processed through the current Fresno warehouse each month.
USCS staffs over 100 employees and is set to hire at least 35 more when the new facilities are opened.
Construction is expected to be completed in the beginning of August. The Fresno location will be USCS’s largest plant facility, making it one the largest cold storage warehouses in the country.
“We will be one of the largest in the U.S.,” Jason Smoyer, Area Manager said. “As far as pallet position and size, they generally don’t build to this scale. Fresno’s in a very unique position within our company. US Cold Storage is the third largest Public Refrigerated Warehouse Company in the United States, and it’s going to be one of the largest standalone facilities relative to all our competitors as well.”
To help with transportation, there is a Union Pacific rail line on the grounds that takes cargo to the nearby Intermodal Yard.
There are plans to widen North Avenue to better accommodate semi-trailer trucks entering and leaving the plant.
Kristoffer Sali is the general manager of USCS Fresno and says that the goal of the company is to keep up the standards for their industry, and grow their footprint in the Valley.
“We want to be the solution in the Valley for all our agricultural customers,” Sali said. “We want to solidify our relationships that we’ve already built through the years. We want to be ‘The Best In Cold’. We look at Fresno, with the Regional Headquarters being here, as an incubator for new talent and new leaders.”