Millard Refrigerated Services

Let them handle it

Back in the 1960s, Larry Larsen had a construction business in which he built a cold storage warehouse for a client. When the warehouse went bankrupt, Larsen saw an opportunity, took over and started operating the warehouse. What started as a side project turned into a successful business that has continued to grow to this day.

Now Millard Refrigerated Services is the second-largest refrigerated warehouse and distribution company in the United States, with 37 facilities across North America and more than 300 million cubic feet of refrigerated warehouse, distribution, and processing space.

Millard Refrigerated Services first expanded into Canada six years ago, when the company landed in Brampton, Ontario. Since 2004, it has grown significantly and the company has had to add onto the facilities twice. Millard also has a location in Calgary, Alberta, which opened in March of last year. 

Both of these locations make perfect sense in the Millard strategy. The company is known for building a network of state-of-the-art distribution centers in key population and geographic areas, close to key interstate highways and rail lines. Calgary and Brampton fit that standard, as both are huge transportation and logistics hubs.   

The service people expect

Cameron Callum is the General Manager at the Brampton location. When asked about Millard’s success, he talks about good service and value-adds. “We’re not the cheapest game in town, but we provide quality service,” he says. “For example, we have our own warehouse management system, with stringent inventory control procedures, which reduces errors and keeps inventory as whole and real time as possible.”

By using technology, Millard Refrigerated Services can serve each customer’s ever-changing needs at an efficient rate. Customers are even given access to the system to view their inventory in real time, anytime they want, via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), e-mail, or directly from the Warehouse Management System interface. “Using that system, we can provide customised reports for just about anything clients need. The company is highly service-based; everything we offer is done in a timely manner and with quality people expect.”

“Because we are primarily in the food business, it’s important to have control of inventory, as well as lot control,” Callum adds. “In the event of a recall, we can track down every case that left the building. After the Maple Leaf recall, the industry was reminded how important it is to have measures in place for public safety. It has always been important, of course, but the event has put a lot more emphasis on lot control and documentation.”

Biosecurity is another issue in the food industry that Millard’s infrastructure can easily deal with. “The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is a security program we are involved in, which is all about facilities security, sealing trucks and routine inspections before the trucks leave. We are on board with these initiatives; they are important.”

Aligning with the customer

Millard’s goals for the future align themselves with the customer’s goals of maximizing their distribution dollars. The company plans to continue its growth and improve its network of distribution and warehousing facilities. “We’re always looking for new business,” says Callum, “and we have come up with a few other initiatives this year to complement and enhance our existing services to offer customers superior products and services.”

“We started a new sales group to go out to customers to find solutions that may not be traditional cold storage, but that are a need for customers in our industry,” Callum continues.

“This includes services to reduce material acquisition costs and transportation costs, or change the way they distribute products.”

At present, Millard is considering manufacturing solutions for customers. The company has already built a food manufacturing plant for a major restaurant chain, as well as a bakery. “We source the materials, make the dough and par-bake it, freeze it and distribute for the restaurant chain,” says Callum. “We have also done some manufacturing in the meat industry. It’s a design-build concept for the customer. If there is a long-term arrangement, we’re willing to build something for a customer and either operate it for them or with them, where they’re manufacturing and we’re handling the warehousing.”

By diversifying and catering to its market, Millard Refrigerated Services is setting itself up for nothing but continued success. We look forward to watching the company grow all over North America.