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Rosenberger - service down cold.

When rail freight shippers began shifting to Plate-F and cryogenic cars in the late 1980s, Henry L. Rosenberger, President of Pennsylvania-based Rosenberger Cold Storage Companies, wasn't going to let a few low Philadelphia tunnels stand in the way of his customer service plan.

"You've got a high car," Rosenberger told his customers, "we'll find a rail line."

Rosenberger spotted a dormant stretch of track that circumvented low-clearance areas and could shave miles off established rail routes to his suburban Philadelphia plants in Hatfield.

He hired an engineer, called in Conrail and Pennsylvania transportation officials and enlisted support from state and county law-makers. He won state grants. He tapped the pockets of a dozen local businesses who could benefit from better rail service and formed North Penn Rail Shippers Ltd. to execute reconstruction contracts.

In short, he put together a $2 million public/private partnership unprecedented in Pennsylvania's recent transportation history.

Two years later: A restored 10-mile stretch of track called the Stony Creek Railroad will cut miles and days off every eastbound rail freight shipment to RCS and dozens of companies in suburban Philadelphia. Service begins this spring.

Creative, Innovative

The Stony Creek line is just one story at a company that loves to solve its customers' problems. "We use creative, innovative solutions to problems. We've set up our business to respond in a flexible way that suits our customers' needs," says Rosenberger.

Eight generations of Rosenberger family history in agriculture-related services stand behind whatever Henry Rosenberger promises.

From 1945 to 1972, Rosenberger's Dairies offered Hatfield area families freezer storage as an added service. In 1972, Henry Rosenberger expanded into the cold storage and distribution business. Over the next 20 years, RCS built the five plants that now hold more than 21 million cubic feet of chilled and frozen foods. RCS's own fleet of trucks keeps deliveries on time.

Today, the Rosenberger family name keeps food producers looking good to their customers from receipt to delivery. Rosenberger says, "We're really offering our customers confidence that their systems operate well on a daily basis. I like to think of it as a giant pipeline and RCS keeps it flowing smoothly."

Location, Location

And flow it does, through five plants strategically located to serve customers from Maine to Michigan to North Carolina. With three plants in Hatfield, plus sister plants Delaware Cold Storage in Wilmington, Delaware, and York Cold Storage in York, Pennsylvania, RCS offers weekly service to 16 Northeast and Middle Atlantic states. A sixth plant is planned for Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1993. To serve customers nationwide, RCS pools and links deliveries from warehouses throughout the United States to the Northeast and Middle Atlantic regions.

Highest Warehouse Standards

As RCS grows, each company warehouse is built and maintained to meet or exceed industry standards. Single-story warehouses maintain constant temperatures with ammonia refrigeration systems. Meticulous housekeeping standards are maintained.

"Reliable. Responsive. Flexible. We try to be a no-bull company," says Jim Styer, executive vice president and chief operating officer at RCS. "If our customers aren't concluding that, we aren't doing our job."

Praise From Customers

Customers return such respect.

"They are a top-notch organization, there's no doubt about it," says Rick Naeger, distribution manager at Pet Incorporated Frozen Foods, St. Louis. "We just don't have a problem with them. They take care of any problems before we know they exist."

In 1981, Pet began using RCS facilities in Hatfield for overflow product. Today, RCS is a Pet distribution center, handling 20 percent of Pet Corporation's Frozen Foods Division products.

When a customer calls Pet late in the day for next day delivery in the Northeast, Naeger has a hassle-free protocol: "You call Rosenberger's up and they'll take care of the order for you. We don't push them to do it, but it's there as you need it. They will go out of their way."

Building Partnerships

Gold Bond-Good Humor Ice Cream of Green Bay, Wisconsin, finds customer service at RCS well matches its own. RCS will handle approximately 15 percent of the company's total U.S. distribution this year.

"One of the ways we try to differentiate ourselves from our competition is through our commitment to all aspects of 'Excellence in Customer Service'," says Richard Van Der Leest, director of logistics at Gold Bond-Good Humor. "It is refreshing for us to build a partnership with a cold storage company that obviously shares the same philosophy regarding customer service."

Flexibility

"We look at them as an extension of ourselves and our business," says Tom Gorman, manager of customer service operations at Kraft General Foods National Dairy Products Corporation. (NDPC), based in Philadelphia. An RCS customer since 1988, Gorman estimates that about 30 percent of all the ice cream NDPC sells now goes through RCS warehouses in Hatfield.

"The most outstanding feature in working with Rosenberger is their flexibility in being able to accommodate us on short notice," says Gorman. "We have customers that are extremely demanding of us; they make frequent changes. And Rosenberger is extremely good at making those changes.

"I think the level of professionalism at Rosenberger is also outstanding. Henry sets the tone of the organization - Jim Styer - Bob Loux (vice president of sales and marketing) on down. They are a very ethical company."

At the business table, Gorman has come to trust that both sides will be heard. "it is an organization where you can go in with good faith and get a win-win result."

The Half - Hour Rule

Helping everyone win are RCS plant managers like Wilmer "Wib" Zook.

A former high school teacher, now general manager of RCS's Trucking Division and Hatfield Plant #1, Zook tapped his teaching skills to enhance the company's services. "When I came to work here, I learned if we didn't respond quickly, sure enough, customers would call back in an hour or so." Zook researched how long it takes to answer most questions and established the "half-hour rule."

Since 1992, when employees at the trucking division or Plant #1 take a call, they research it and call back within 30 minutes with either an answer or a status report.

The half-hour rule makes for happier customers and more productive workers, says Zook. He estimates 70 percent of all questions or problems are answered within 30 minutes, and those that can't be resolved in that time generally are by the end of the day. "People just don't let things go on a desk anymore," Zook observes. "They seem to get their work done. And complaints have dropped significantly because customers know we are going to respond."

"It's a way of changing our industry's culture a little bit," says Zook. "To be competitive you have to communicate well. To me that's one of the extra things our company can offer."

Delaware Cold Storage

High on Technology - Long on Service

Just five minutes from the Port of Wilmington and a half-hour from the port of Philadelphia, sister company Delaware Cold Storage handles RCS's import/export warehousing.

Ralph Kwak, general manager at Delaware Cold Storage, carries out RCS companies' high standards in a competitive port area with six-day-a-week operations that frequently extend past 9 p.m.

"We pride ourselves on turning trucks rapidly," says Kwak. "We want to get a truck out of here in the least amount of time possible. To us it's really important that our customers and our truckers feel that they get better service with us than they do at any warehouse in the Middle-Atlantic region."

From these foundations, RCS keeps responding to its customers' ever-changing needs. Improving on the traditional warehouse information systems, Delaware Cold Storage now offers customers on-line computer access to "real time" inventory records: As products enter the warehouse, workers pass hand held scanners over bar codes and record inventory directly to company computers.

York Cold Storage

Pick & Load Services

Daymark Foods Inc. of Russellville, Arkansas, relies on RCS sister company York Cold Storage for its frozen and chilled food deliveries to Sam's Clubs throughout the Northeast. York stores products for Daymark. Then, as Sam's Clubs need restocking, York Cold Storage workers pick orders from the warehouse and load up to 25 Daymark trucks a day, ensuring accurate, timely deliveries to Sam's.

"We do whatever they want if possible, whenever possible. We try never to say 'no,' says Tim Groff, regional plant manager for York and Hatfield Plant #3.

Any Way, Any How

"Speed. Location. Warehousing. Distribution. Getting the product to its final destination. This is all done within house," says Bob Loux, company vice president of sales and marketing. "Our customers simply tell us how much of what they want where. We take it from there."

"We see ourselves as problem solvers," says Styer, the chief operating officer. "We're trying to say if it can be done, we'll figure out a way to make it happen. And we always do what we say we're going to do."
COPYRIGHT 1993 Frozen Food Digest, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Rosenberger Cold Storage Companies
Publication:Frozen Food Digest
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Words:1480
Previous Article:NOCS creates success.
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