Regional Spotlight: Kansas City

spotlight_on_Kansas_CityTeam DCA (www.teamdca.com) is a network of regional third party logistics providers, strategically located throughout the United States for complete coverage of customer requirements for warehousing, transportation and fulfillment services across industry sectors from food and beverage to high value high tech.

In this interview, Steve Wedlan, VP Marketing for Metro Park Warehouses, shares his perspective on market trends, challenges and recovery in the Kansas City metro area, and its impact on this DCA member company.

How is business generally in the Kansas City Metro Area?  Which industries are hit hardest or doing best in this economy?

Major drivers of business in the Kansas City, Missouri (and just over the border, Kansas), area areautomotive, agriculture, energy and transportation.  Kansas City has weathered the recession relatively well.  Rather than the closures highlighting the news in other areas of the country, the two large, regional automotive manufacturing plants here (GM and Ford), have expanded and added jobs to the metro region in recent years.  In view of the growth they’re experiencing, we’ve picked up additional business from suppliers to the automotive manufacturers, which is an important niche market for Metro Park.  Auto companies and suppliers have short-term contracts, so the business can be quite volatile but is a huge economic driver for the area overall.  The third party logistics (3PL) service model fits this segment well, adapting by definition, to shifts among the suppliers with consistent and sustained 3PL service response.  Some parts (such as tires) are incompatible with the food business we also serve, but most parts going into a car are clean and ready to go into an assembly process, which are good candidates for public warehousing and value-added services such as inspection, labeling and kitting.

Also, since auto parts often come in from overseas with long ocean transit times, these companies value a third party (3PL) arrangement for the flexible capacity to build and draw on an inventory buffer of parts to feed the auto plants on a just-in-time basis.

Agriculture is extremely important to the regional economy.  There are quite a number of mills and food manufacturing plants in the Midwest, which are an extremely important aspect of our business.  We’ve had growth in inventory from existing customers in the food business – from companies looking for more space and the menu of value added services we provide.  As Midwestern companies are ramping up production in the economic recovery, they’re requiring more space for seasonal inventory surges and driving supply chain distribution network realignments.  Kansas City also offers very strong transportation connections in rail and trucking that makes us a candidate to be a key point or node in the overall distribution network for these companies.

Energy related industries such as oil and gas and truck/rail transportation are major business segments in the Midwest and local Kansas/Missouri economies and have helped provide jobs and sustain consumer spending during the recession and through the recovery.

How is Metro Park Warehouses’ business?  Are certain market sectors or types of companies rebounding faster than others?

Key areas of focus for Metro Park Warehouses are our traditional packaged consumer food products, medical products, alcoholic beverage, and paper/packaging products customers.  Each of those segments looks strong today and is growing for us.  The food manufacturing business is an important market segment for Metro Park Warehouses and will continue to be as it typically grows at about the rate of general population growth.  The segment was stable during the recession and is expanding now as the Midwest and Kansas City area builds its jobs base and grows its population.

We’re also seeing impressive growth in business among our medical customer companies because Metro Park offers distinct expertise and experience managing to FDA requirements and regulations, particularly with regard to proper temperature controlled space.  For medical devices and for pharmaceuticals that require inventory within a certain temperature, we maintain different heated & cooled rooms from 36 to 77 degrees throughout the year.

We’ve been providing this critical service to our pharmaceutical and medical products customers for over 20 years, which creates a deep knowledge base and service expertise for our customers.

Similar to medical & pharmaceuticals, Metro Park has the licensing and industry specific experience for the alcoholic beverage niche that has been growing as well.  We’ve also served the roll paper industry for many years which has been facing a number of challenges recently including the widespread transition to digital communications.

Is there an initiative or new focus area you’d like to emphasize?

In conjunction with the medical & pharmaceutical products growth, it’s worth noting that Kansas City is positioning itself as a biosciences corridor for animal medical products with an economic development focus on the Animal Health Corridor about 120 miles east & west of Kansas City which contains the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world.  There is a great deal of activity in the area for better health and productivity in agriculture and animal health, and as a result, Metro Park is seeing new business from national and international companies in these developing sectors.

Final Thoughts

The bioscience economic development effort is a good example of the abundance of incentives from state and local governments to encourage companies to locate here, build business and improve logistics network efficiencies by including a Kansas City node. Metro Park offers outstanding customer service with over 40 years of 3PL experience and flexible space and transportation resources to meet the local and regional logistics needs of customers in the growing Kansas City area.

Prism Team Services Certified ‘Organic Distributor’ by QAI

Prism Team Services, Inc. of San Francisco’s East Bay announced today that it has achieved ‘organic distributor’ certification from Quality Assurance International (QAI), an achievement which sets Prism apart from most food grade operators in the logistics industry. As an Organic Distributor certified operation, Prism is authorized to repack and provide value added services for their organic product customers.

“As consumers become increasingly attentive to food labels, ingredients and the way their food is processed, we expect to see continued growth in Organic and natural food markets in this region and nationwide. The entire Prism team is committed to achieving and maintaining the highest caliber of service possible for this important and growing customer segment,” said Jere Van Puffelen, President of Prism Logistics.

Prism Team Services’ Hayward, CA facility was the first of its four locations to be certified and the firm expects to expand the program throughout its network of Northern California distribution facilities

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