Paris Brothers finds
by ‘going underground’
Feb 10, 2010 4:16 PM
If ever a foodservice company could be called “innovative,” it would be Paris Brothers. A Kansas City MO-based, family-owned business launched in 1983, Paris Brothers is a clear leader in an industry that is constantly evolving.
Although Paris Brothers distributes and sells more than 5,000 specialty items to grocery stores, restaurants, and national food distributors in the Midwest, it is far more than just a broker. The company offers a full range of warehouse systems including freezer, multi-temperature cooler space, and dry space.
Additionally, Paris Brothers manufactures, markets, and distributes 15 different private label brands, and it helps other food companies design and implement their own supply chain management plans. Services range from basic warehousing with online inventory management, to full supply chain integration—including warehousing, inventory management, distribution, and full integration as a third-party licensee.
As the company began experiencing explosive growth in 2000, it needed to find a location that could support expansion. But, as co-founder and principal Joe Paris explained, finding a facility that offered all the key elements the company needed wasn’t easy. Paris Brothers’ requirements included:
•A convenient location.
•A clean, well-managed facility.
•Security 24/7, since many of its supply chain customers need after-hours and weekend access.
•A climate- and humidity-controlled environment.
•Access to significant freezer space.
•Flexibility for future expansion.
•An affordable lease, including low utility costs.
The company found all these things and more in SubTropolis, which is owned and operated by the family of legendary sports pioneer, Lamar Hunt. Hunt Midwest Enterprises is a diverse portfolio of entities involved in real estate, sports/media, energy/resources, private equity, and investments. Marquee entities include Hunt Midwest, the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bulls, Pizza Hut Park, FC Dallas Soccer Club, and United Center.
Hunt Midwest’s mining company began extracting limestone out of SubTropolis’ 1,100 acres in the 1940s. In the early 1960s, the company determined that the underground space created would be ideal for a business complex. Today, SubTropolis is the world’s largest underground business complex, housing more than 50 local, national, and international businesses. Created through the mining of a 270-million-year-old limestone deposit, SubTropolis will have 50 million square feet of space available when it is fully developed.
The underground location is ideal for Paris Brothers’ dry storage, multi-temperature cooler space, and freezer space operations. It is also home to Paris Brothers’ coffee warehousing operation, which allows customers to bring specialty coffee closer to customers in the middle of the United States.
According to Joe Paris, “When we first moved into SubTropolis, we had 110,000 square feet of space. Now—with nearly 100 employees and a significantly expanded array of products and services—we are their largest tenant with about 500,000 square feet. We love it here because as our needs have grown, Hunt Midwest has been able to accommodate them. They have been a very good business partner.
“Our two companies really complement each other,” said Paris. “There is a real partnership, a real collaborative effort. We understand each other, which means they know what we need to run our business, and that allows us to focus on growing our business—not on managing our facility. They have even sent a couple of customers our way.”
Connie Kamps, director of real estate operations for Hunt Midwest, echoes the valued relationship with Paris Brothers. “One thing that was very important to Paris Brothers was the freezer space we could offer them,” she said.
“We have a 255,000-sq-ft freezer that is used partially by Paris Brothers and also by other tenants for storing a variety of perishables including poultry, meats, fruits, vegetables, and pharmaceuticals. They began utilizing that immediately. Plus, we could accommodate the space they needed for their own coolers, which they put in later (they now have three different multiple-temperature coolers). Our ability to be flexible with those kinds of logistics is very important to them.”
Inside the giant SubTropolis freezer, Paris Brothers stores everything from commodity foodstuffs for government contract distribution to ingredients for national foodservice companies. The underground location enables Paris Brothers to benefit from the Earth’s natural permafrost, which is defined on the basis of temperature, as soil or rock that remains below 0° C throughout the year, and forms when the ground cools sufficiently in winter to produce a frozen layer that persists throughout the following summer.
“We are more of a fail-safe operation—temperature control with Earth backup,” said Paris. “Although we have back-up UPS (uninterrupted power source) power in the event that power is lost, the cooldown period underground is extremely slow because the Earth insulates our cooler and freezer space.”
Paris Brothers’ cooler space includes more than 600 specialty cheese items from California, Wisconsin, and Vermont, and other high-end artisan farmers from across the nation. Beyond storage of the cheese product, Paris Brothers provides final production and distribution directly from its cooler facility. The cheese is cut and wrapped into consumer units, cheese courses, and foodservice items to translate bulk product into saleable merchandise.
Paris said it’s important to be open to new business opportunities that might cross your path, as long as they fit within your company’s core competencies. One of the items that presented itself to Paris Brothers was the business of offering centralized green coffee warehousing to bring specialty coffee closer to specialty roasters in the middle of the United States.
“The three things raw coffee needs to stay fresh are low light, stable temperatures, and humidity control,” said Paris. “So Paris Brothers’ underground location at SubTropolis is perfect. We’re able to provide customers a good location for efficient distribution throughout the United States and ensure that their product will be its finest with our temperature-controlled facility.”“We are very happy with Hunt Midwest,” said Paris. “They provide a clean, safe facility and because it’s underground, it allows us to be more productive. It’s been a great fit.”
Getting it there
Paris Brothers’ warehouse is located in the heart of the major north-south and east-west transportation corridors, saving customers both distribution time and costs. There are even 300 truck lines that serve SubTropolis, which includes street-level access that easily accommodates 18-wheelers.
The company provides freight forwarding services with local and national reach. Its local delivery fleet includes seven trailers outfitted with box-unit refrigeration systems to ensure temperature, humidity, and cleanliness are constant from warehouse to truck transfer.
National distribution is handled by Paris Brothers coordinating air, truck, and rail transport through national and international carriers in both less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload configurations. Sister company Ground Freight Expeditors directly coordinates custom refrigerated forwarding services for Paris Brothers and—as the name suggests—expedited shipments.
Trucks are loaded and unloaded inside Paris Brothers, which is protected from the elements and exterior temperature fluctuations because of SubTropolis’ underground location. Less change in the environment yields more control over product quality, according to Paris.
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