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Local cold storage company is looking to expand operations

Cold Storage

Kyabram Cold Storage has been a staple of regional Victorian cold storage for the dairy and agriculture sectors and after continued growth the company is looking to expand its operations.

Kyabram Cold Storage has been a major fixture in regional Victoria, and the rest of Australia’s cold storage sector, since 1984.

While local agriculture storage has been the company’s bread and butter for most of its existence, Kyabram Cold Storage specialises in the cold storage of other local and imported chilled and frozen food items.

Kyabram Cold Storage was built up from an initial 16 cool rooms storing fruit from local orchard, but since then the company has continued to expand and will continue to grow into the future as it diversifies its offerings.

Today, Kyabram Cold Storage has two sites with 60 cool rooms and a capacity to store up to 50,000 units in each. The main site is in Kyabram, north of Melbourne, and the other in Merrigum, just southeast of Kyabram proper.

The company experienced its first large growth period in the early 1990s on the back off the dairy industry after they started to store dairy goods, mostly cheeses.

Kyabram Cold Storage manager Chris Fairless said one of the major benefits, and drivers, around the growth of the company in the past three decades was the expertise of its tenured staff.

“We have a staff of 40 people currently, and we offer a high level of expertise through staff who have worked with the company for 20 years or more,” said Fairless.

Cold Storage

The company’s expansion has been ongoing for some time as it slowly built up its storage capability.

“We store products across most horticultural and agricultural sectors, but we are also a dairy product warehouse, and that product is spread across specialised powders, chilled products at varying temperature requirements and regimes and equally for frozen items, including blast freezing,” said Fairless.

“We do have other clients outside of dairy, the wine industry is one, we do maturate wines, we have a significant footprint in frozen vegetable and fruit sectors, both import and export, and we certainly have a significant input into import and export across several product lines.”

Fairless also spoke about how Kyabram Cold Storage was able to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic from inside Victoria, which had some of the strictest lockdown anywhere in the world.

“I feel we have managed our COVID response very well,” he said.

“We haven’t missed a day’s work across this last two years of intense scrutiny around covid protocols and there have certainly been a lot of pressure put on warehousing and distribution centres that we have done very well with.”

The senior team at Kyabram Cold Storage took the threat of COVID-19 very seriously, sitting down to formulate a new approach to its business model as a way of protecting staff and its business.

“We have modified the way we managed our site and people coming to and from our site and when you consider we are doing, on average, 162 palletised truck movements a week and 30 export/import container movements a week we feel we have done a very good job on keeping our doors open and managing our people and clients safely during the pandemic,” said Fairless.

“Our approach to COVID is what helped maintain our business and keep our doors open.”

Fairless aid the company’s response to the recent supply chain issues experienced in Australia was another indication of Kyabram Cold Storage’s capacity to pivot its business approach when required.

“To manage our business well during the recent supply chain hiccups, where pallets were suddenly in short supply, we introduced our own private pallet floor and that has helped our clients and business significantly,” he said.

The company already has more than 20,000 privately owned pallets, managed by them, in its system. This is an area where Kyabram Cold Storage is also looking to grow.

“Where we have a 30,000-pallet footprint in our own rite we have a further 20,000 privately owned pallets in separate pools, both within and outside of our own warehousing footprint,” said Fairless.

Kyabram Cold Storage has also put a renewed emphasis in rationalising its transport footprint across its network, with consideration given to both rail and roads.

“Now our footprint specialises in fewer operators in our national and export network. Being close to the NSW border also means we have been able to maximise our commercial footprint with the use of A-doubles and that’s certainly been a great help to us,” said Fairless.

“That has also helped us with our import programs. We do a lot of work off the Melbourne wharf now and we are establishing a significant footprint in regional Victoria for international imports into Australia.”

The advantage to warehousing those imports at Kyabram is the wider consumer market which can be reached because prior to Kyabram Cold Storage taking the items up they were only warehoused in Melbourne and transported from there.

“We have several things we are doing to help our warehouse utilisation and we are providing a flexible footprint that looks to help a number of different clients,” said Fairless.

All these offerings from Kyabram Cold Storage align with the company’s three core values, including, a commitment to excellence in customer service, a continued reputation for its warehousing capabilities, and a commitment to improve its offerings through continued training of staff.

Live, and around the clock, data recording is also used to monitor the cold room storage and ensure compliance with each individual product’s requirements, as well as historical data collection which is filed every two hours to further safeguard the storage rooms.

Fairless said the company is suited to store food products at virtually any temperature required, whether that be freezer storage, blast freezing, dry storage, or control atmosphere storage, Kyabram Cold Storage is equipped to do it.

“Certainly, we have a true national footprint, 30,000 pallets on concrete at any one time and a distribution network that is truly national and that has helped us across our national and international clients,” he said.

Temperature controlled grading rooms also provides prospective, and existing clients, a chance to sample products under the Food Industry Standard conditions before committing its product to Kyabram Cold Storage.

Fairless said a string of certifications, which includes Certificate of Registration with the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FD), also allowed the company to provide an added layer of quality assurance for their customers.

The Kyabram Cold Storage facility is also powered by a leading Microlistics warehouse management system.

Microlistics enables us to provide the highest levels of governance, efficiency, visibility, and control across the cold chain with outstanding track and traceability, multi-chamber temperature control and catch- weight, grading and compliance capability.

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