The Big Chill

As Canada's premier provider of public refrigerated warehousing and distribution, Confederation Freezers* relies on the ingenuity of more than 80 years in the food business and a rich family heritage that spans four generations. Pat Whitman has details.
*Redirack Warehouse Systems is a proud supplier to Confederation Freezer.

When Kalmen Greenspan came to Canada in 1913, he opened a kosher butcher shop. The shop soon grew into three meat markets, a line of kosher deli products and a wholesale meat business. In the 1940s Kalmen's sons joined in the effort as Phillip, Johnnie and Harry came on board. It was Harry and Phillip who, in 1974, recognized the need for premium freezer space in the Toronto area and opened Confederation Freezers.

At the time, the refrigeration business was in its infant stages. There were lots of commodities, very little service and record keeping was still done on paper. "What drove the changes over the years were the changing needs of the industry," says Alan Greenspan, executive vice president of Confederation Freezers. "Carrying on the daily tradition and developing that fledgling business was our main goal. The growth we experienced came from understanding, responding, and leading the changes that were going on in our industry."

Cool Change

That strategy has made Confederation Freezers a success. The company prides itself on the streamlined processes it has created to adapt to the changing demands and diversified needs of its growing list of satisfied customers. Over the years it has responded to customers' needs by investing in new technology, blast freezing capabilities, a fleet of trucks for expedient delivery and pickup, repackaging and labelling technology and value-added services like export documentation.

A critical link in its customers' cold chain, Confederation Freezers has grown from a single 1,200,000-cubic-foot facility in Brampton, Ontario, to an operation encompassing over 20 million-cubic-feet, 250 clients from four refrigerated and ambient temperature warehouses located throughout Ontario. Its integrated array of services ensures flexibility and variety in the available methods of storage and transportation services provided.

"Our success has relied on a combination of experience and commitment, which ensures reliability, efficiency and excellent service quality," says Harry Greenspan, president and CEO of Confederation Freezers. "We have a record of many industry firsts: providing electronic data interchange (EDI) to customers, operating 24 hours-a-day, RF inventory track, distribution services and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) recognition. Our customers recognize our innovation and we are dedicated to meeting their needs."

Customer Advantage

Confederation Freezers' customers span the full continuum of the food industry. The company's rich history in refrigerated warehousing, coupled with the enhanced networks of transportation, communications, operational and technical resources, enables it to continually improve performance and provide superior service.

Confederation Freezers' multi-temp storage facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art refrigeration systems capable of providing temperatures ranging from -29C (-20F) to +5C (+40F). Ambient storage is also available and customers can rest assured that each facility is monitored 24 hours a day, guaranteeing product safety and security.

Facility services include re-inspection and RF capabilities, bar coding, case / palette scanning, slip sheet and drum handling, rail siding, tempering, loading / unloading containers and stamping, labelling and repacking.

All four Confederation Freezers' locations are Canadian Food Inspection Agency certified. In addition, the facilities are recognized by HACCP, a systematic preventative approach to food safety, and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). The premises are USDA registered and audited annually by the American Sanitation Institute.

Confederation Freezers' temperature-controlled fleet of trucks offers reliable and accurate transportation services equipped with the technology to ensure just-in-time needs are met. The company offers daily services within Ontario and Quebec, as well as service to Western Canada, the Maritimes and the U.S. Additional transportation services include freight management and consolidation, cross docking, customs documentation, cross-country delivery / pickup and 24 / 7 pickup and delivery services.

Creating value and providing additional services to customers is a Confederation Freezers hallmark. "The value-added services we offer customers give them a higher competitive advantage," says Alan Greenspan. From re-packaging and re-labelling, to customs documentation, the company's value-added services are plentiful. They include: cycle counts, room freezing, blast freezing, multi-customer third-party logistics billing, picking, customer access, auto-faxing, cross-docking, take weights, and case picking.

Logical Solutions

This multi-facility third party logistics provider plans and deploys the movement of goods through a well-balanced combination of the right people and the right technology. Confederation Freezers relies on a state-of-the-art WMS and monitoring system, an RFID lab (Headwater consortium), EDI standard and customized solutions and bar coding capabilities.

A change to its logistics management software came in 2005 when the company upgraded the system. A popular feature of the software is real time data access. This enables customers to track the movement and status of their inventory in real time using the Internet. Many of Confederation Freezers' largest clients rely on this technology, which has resulted in major time and money savings for all involved.

Cooling Trends

With the realities of mad cow disease and bioterrorism ever-present in today's society, food traceability is a new sought-after service in the food industry. "As we've watched the industry grow and understand the needs of customers, we've tried to provide the service they want and need and anticipate where they want to be in the future," says Alan Greenspan. "Over the last few years, product traceability for recall purposes and other tracking issues has become a customer request. Offering a service like this has significantly changed the level of data that we have to keep on products in our warehouse. It requires exacting detail and a company like Confederation Freezers that is highly experienced in the food business."

Outsourcing and more advanced technology are additional trends and requests from Confederation Freezers' customers. "Customers always want new features and capabilities," says Harry Greenspan. "Our customers are always looking for us to do more for them. If it's not outsourcing, it's how we can pick up another piece of their process. In every aspect of product manufacturing, our customers are asking for the technologies that can help them do things faster, better and most cost efficiently. Our extensive knowledge of the food industry makes us the perfect candidate for the job."

A Brisk Future

Confederation Freezers actively participates with industry associations in an effort to continually grow and improve. The company is a participant in ASI Food Safety Consultants / Food Processors of Canada, International Associations of Refrigerated Warehouses, International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration, National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association and World Food Logistics.

"Our industry know-how and dedication to staying on trend with all aspects of the food business puts us in growth mode along with our customers," says Harry Greenspan. "Our customers are demanding more of us and will continue to do so. We are at the ready, to respond and partner with them to generate growth. It has always been our ability to work well with customers and anticipate and satisfy their needs that has made us a success. As we look to the future we stay focused on our mission - to continually enhance our position as a premier provider of public refrigerated warehousing and distribution in Canada by creating competitive advantage and optimum performance for our valued customers."

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