Nature Sweet

NatureSweet’s traceability technology can track a tomato’s history down to the greenhouse row it was picked from.
By Tim O’Connor

Some brands within the tomato market source their vegetables from a mix of growers. Mixing those sources together can create inconsistency and quality issues once the tomatoes reach store shelves.

As a vertically integrated grower and consumer packaging company, NatureSweet works 365 days a year to ensure every tomato meets “best in industry” specifications. “We start from seed and deliver to shelf,” says Matt Volker, vice president of supply chain. “We’re able to control the quality from start to finish.”

Since its founding in 1990, NatureSweet has built five greenhouse facilities in Mexico and purchased a greenhouse operation in the United States. With nearly 1,400 acres of greenhouse space, NatureSweet is the largest greenhouse grower in North America and a leading supplier of tomatoes to retail grocery, club retailers and food distributors. Its nearly 8,000 full-time associates average more than five years of experience. Through employee retention, the company has expertise in how to manage plants and product yield to provide the best tasting tomato varietals across all seasons.

The company’s growing operation is segmented between the U.S. and Mexican facilities. About 30 percent of the company’s tomato production comes from its location in Willcox, Ariz., and the remaining 70 percent occurs at its greenhouses in Mexico. “We have a global presence through an integrated supply chain for both in-bound material and maintenance requirements, as well as a finished goods network across the United States and Mexico,” Volker says.


Eskimo Cold Storage has exceled by doing what’s right for the customer.

By Alan Dorich

Strong values have been key for Eskimo Cold Storage, co-owner and Vice President Karen Reece says. “We believe that by doing what’s right for your customer, you will have long-term accounts,” she says.

Based in Gainesville, Ga., Eskimo Cold Storage provides cooling, freezing, blasting and exporting services for a diverse client base. “Our customers range from fresh poultry [providers] to frozen vegetables and everything in between,” she says.

“They expect excellence in handling their product and in our accuracy rates,” Reece says. “They define quality as the ability to make one phone call and knowing that their issues or needs will be met.”

KR DixieCullenI 275 Hiebert

Dixie Cullen provides a range of inventory solutions for heavy equipment shippers and users.
By Tim O’Connor

Equipment handling and storage company Dixie Cullen’s mission is straightforward: to be considered an extension of its customers’ shipping and receiving departments. The company’s close relationship with its customers and reliable reputation proves it is accomplishing that goal. “I have three customers when you bring up their website, their warehouse address is our address,” owner and CEO Catherine James says.

Dixie Cullen is a Houston-based, woman-owned business specializing in the storage of machinery, steel and other heavy industrial products. James describes her business as in a niche market and driven by positive word of mouth. “In 21 years, I don’t have a sale staff,” she explains. “All our work comes to us through referrals.”

In 1995, James was working work a machinery moving company that specialized in plant relocations. A customer had its import permits pulled and needed a place to store its printing presses while the issue was resolved. James learned about a vacant building that was available and could serve that customers’ need and Dixie Cullen was born.

True Value

True Value’s indirect procurement team focuses on developing a core group of suppliers to support strategic sourcing throughout the cooperative.

By Janice Hoppe

As one of the world’s largest member-owned cooperatives, Chicago-based True Value developed new sourcing teams to help its independent hardware retailers compete against larger competitors. The company launched an indirect procurement team a year-and-a-half ago to focus on the procurement of goods and services that are not for resale.

Michael Cygan leads the indirect procurement team that has introduced collaborative cost-reduction initiatives with strategic suppliers. The team incorporates design for cost, specification optimization, process improvement and demand management. “Matt Sorenson, divisional vice president of strategic sourcing, brought me to True Value 18 months ago because he knew he was going to start this team and wanted me to lead the effort,” he says.

Leading the development of a procurement team is a first for Cygan in his career and he says it has been very rewarding. “This is my first time to start a team from the ground up and it’s been super rewarding and a lot of fun,” he adds. “It’s something fairly unique in any career, and I’m happy to have taken part in building a team early on in my career. We have done very well with hiring and have had great success as everyone is still with the team.”  


Allegion’s products create security for its customers – and so do its supply chain operations.
By Chris Petersen

Since its inception, the driving force behind the company known today as Allegion has been security. As one of the global leaders in safety and security solutions for homes, businesses and institutions, Allegion’s products provide customers with peace of mind knowing that their people, places and possessions are protected and secure. But there’s more than one definition of security, and Allegion team members understand they need to do everything possible to ensure customers and partners feel secure in the knowledge that the company’s products will be distributed where they need to be when they need to be there. That’s a responsibility Senior Vice President of Global Operations and Integrated Supply Chain Chris Muhlenkamp says he takes very seriously, and the company is hard at work to make certain it continues to provide its customers with a sense of security in every aspect of their dealings with the company.

Allegion was spun off from Ingersoll-Rand in 2013, but the business unit has long been a pioneer in the safety and security space. In fact, many of Allegion’s innovative brands have created their respective product categories, beginning with Von Duprin’s development of the first “panic release bar” exit device in 1908, and continuing with CISA’s development of the first-ever electronically controlled lock in 1926. Today, Allegion manages more than 25 brands around the world that hold more than 550 global active patents and are focused on security and safety for private and public spaces, mainly centered around doors and locks. Its product lines include doors and door frames, locks ranging from standard key-entry systems to locks accessed by advanced biometrics, and door closer and exit devices.

Muhlenkamp has been with Allegion since before it spun off as an independent company, having spent more than 35 years in the supply chain realm. Thirty of those years were spent in various positions at Delphi Automotive, where Muhlenkamp oversaw operations in various capacities in Mexico, Europe and the United States. He says Allegion is blessed to have a strong internal culture, strong brands and a commitment to improving in every aspect of its operations, and these elements are helping the company evolve and adapt to meet customers’ changing needs in a more responsive and successful manner than ever before. “Those are the elements that make us very strong,” he says.

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