Americold may be the world’s largest provider of commercialized temperature-controlled warehousing for perishable goods, but the company tasked with keeping your food cold has been on an absolute acquisitional hot streak.
Americold owns and operates over 200 temperature-controlled warehouses around the world and boasts over a billion cubic feet of storage in the United States, Canada, Argentina, China, Australia, and elsewhere. The company keeps finding ways to expand its cool footprint through strategic acquisitions that will keep the 1903-founded company a giant in its field.
On the global front, Americold’s late-2020 acquisition of Netherlands-based Agro Merchants Group saw the world’s fourth largest cold storage operator brought under the Americold banner. Agro Merchants had built out an impressive portfolio across ten countries in two hemispheres. The deal topped out at $1.7 billion and boosted Americold’s total facilities to 229 and nearly 1.35 billion refrigerated cubic feet of storage.
Across the equator, Americold announced the intention to acquire Australian cold storage firm Lago Cold Stores for $106.6 million in August of 2021. Along with three temperature-controller sites within the busy Brisbane Port, it also added a road haulage fleet to its arsenal.
“We are pleased to announce our agreement to acquire Lago Cold Stores, which expands our presence in the Brisbane, Australia market,” Americold President and Chief Executive Fred Boehler said in a prepared statement. “Once completed, this acquisition will add three strategically located assets to our portfolio, growing our footprint in Brisbane and increasing our presence in Australia to more than 56 million cubic feet.”
While acquisitions have been heavy, so has investment in the company’s cold storage operations. The company announced that it was investing $84 million in its Russellville, Arkansas, cold-storage operation that will also add 30 more jobs to the site’s staff.
As of June 2021, Americold had begun work on a new 131,000 square-foot cold storage and distribution facility at Russellville and features high-bay automation, which will ideally lower energy costs and maximize footprint efficiency.
The 2019 refurbishment of Americold’s Wisconsin facility also drew industry attention for an extensive rack replacement that had to occur without ceasing the company’s operations, not to mention the long hours that kept those installing the rack in heavy gloves and freezer suits to stave off the sub-zero temperatures.
“Rack replacement in an existing facility requires a lot of coordination, and there are operational issues around having to continue to operate the business,” Phil Beaulieu, director of construction at Americold, told the National Provisioner. “Steel King was willing to work with us to design around the racking that we wanted to keep and to develop a rigorous retrofit schedule that enabled a rolling install.”
Beaulieu is a veteran of Americold, having called the employer home for the past 28 years. The director of construction rose from a regional engineer role to director of project management before taking on his director role in early 2021.
The project was kept on a rigid schedule to keep demolition, installation, and deliveries on-time and unabated. Rack demolition crews worked one sector ahead of the crews in charge of installation, handing off sectors as they were completed. The goal was to keep as many storage bays up and running for as long as possible.
To add yet more challenges to the project, consideration for forklift impact had to be built into the rack design. It required custom-engineered uprights as well as cantilever legs to help offset the front rack uprights and keep columns out of the path of the forklifts.
It may be just one small project for a company’s square cubic footage is in the billions, but the attention to detail and collaborative efforts of Americold and its partners demonstrates just how the company has managed to give its competition the cold shoulder.