The investor-backed cold chain operator Vertical Cold Storage has acquired Chicago regional firm Liberty Cold Storage, taking its first step toward its ambition to build out a national network of temperature-controlled distribution centers, the firm said Friday.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but North Sioux City, South Dakota-based Vertical said it planned to make the Liberty Cold Storage operation “even better” by leveraging technology and automation for more consistent customer service.
Founded in 2020, Vertical says it builds and operate automated cold storage facilities. The company is sponsored by real estate asset manager Platform Ventures, a Fairway, Kansas-based holding company founded in 2008. “The goal for Vertical Cold is to build out a national footprint, and this acquisition bolsters that effort and creates a strong foundation for future growth. We are committed to sponsoring both transactions like this and new developments to reach that goal,” Ryan Anderson, co-president & co-founder of Platform Ventures, said in a release.
The young company now buys Liberty, which opened its 300,000-square foot warehouse in Bolingbrook, Illinois, in 2016 to serve both the nearby West Liberty Foods processing facility and other regional customers. That facility includes 36,000 pallet positions and 265 blast freezer positions, LED motion lighting, a 63-foot refrigerated dock, and drop trailer flexibility.
“Liberty Cold is the perfect first acquisition for Vertical Cold because of its location near Chicago with intermodal access and the ability to distribute to 85% of the country's population within two days, the talented staff and the quality modern facility that was built to the latest standards. We are open for business and are looking forward to serving existing and new customers,” Vertical Cold Storage President Curt Mastbergen said in a release.
The firm is looking to grow within a sector that is dominated by huge players like cold chain giant Lineage Logistics, which has such large scale that in January the Michigan company bought its own rail operator to create a more integrated solution for its food and beverage customers. Other established players include the temperature-controlled storage specialist Americold, which in 2020 partnered with grocery distribution giant Ahold Delhaize USA, and RLS Logistics, which has also been rolling up acquisitions.
Despite that stiff competition, the sector appears to have sufficient demand for a growing number of cold chain warehousing and transportation facilities, thanks to rising international trade in perishable foods, technology advancements in refrigerated storage and transport, government support for infrastructure development, and increased consumer demand for perishable foods in both grocery stores and online channels, analysts say.