New cold storage facility, truck company expansion planned in Mulberry

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 3,315 views 

There will soon be a 70,000-square-foot very cold spot in Mulberry that will add 25-30 jobs to the Crawford County town and be the first phase in what the owners hope will result in a larger footprint of warehousing and logistic operations.

Mulberry, Ark.-based Compass Cold is partnering with Melbourne, Fla.-based Ti Cold to build the 70,000 square foot cold storage warehouse. A groundbreaking for the estimated $24 million facility is set for 11 a.m., on April 20. The facility should be completed by January 2023.

Doug Bowen and Darren Winstead, who graduated Alma High School in 2001 and have known each other since fifth grade, are active owners of Compass Cold. Through their D&D Capital Investments firm, they own 189 acres located near the Interstate 40 exit in Mulberry. The Cold Compass facility is being built on 15 of those acres. Other investors in the project are Sam Tippman and Rob Adams with Ti Cold, Jeff and Debbie Winstead, and Joshua Koester.

According to a Ti Cold press release, the facility can provide storage space for food wholesalers, retailers, and food manufacturing customers in central and northwest Arkansas

“The advanced cold storage complex will feature a flexible, convertible design that is able to maintain temperatures ranging from 40°F to -20°F. Structural steel pallet racks will accommodate over 8,500 pallet positions,” noted the press release. “This includes QFM In-Rack Freezing System which combines blast freezing technology and pallet racking. QFM freezes pallets up to four times faster than traditional blast freezers with the ability to reduce energy consumption by as much as 50%.”

The Compass Cold warehouse also will provide third party logistics (3PL), which means they can “pick, pack and ship the client’s products directly from the facility.” Part of the 3PL service will be through Doug’s Produce, a refrigerated trucking company operated by Bowen and Winstead with 55 trucks that operate primarily in the southeast and midwest.

“We are excited to develop and deliver this project to help expand an already very successful trucking and distribution business into a topflight 3PL solution,” said Adams, a principal with Ti Cold.

Construction on the warehouse is the result of a three year process to find the right investors and financing, Bowen and Winstead told Talk Business & Politics. They say the warehouse will be one piece of a larger storage and logistics complex on the site in Mulberry.

“We’re not stopping here. It’s like the Kevin Costner thing, where if you build it they will come,” Bowen said.

The expansion includes the Doug’s Produce fleet which they say will grow to 75 trucks with 92 refrigerated trailers by the end of 2022. That will result in more jobs with drivers and support staff.

Bowen and Winstead said the food sector is still trying to find its balance from COVID-19 pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions that saw shortages with many food products. Bowen said he believes some companies will eventually use more warehousing rather than depend wholly on just-in-time systems, but most of their clients are now working to just get the supply chain back to normal.

“Definitely, as a whole the country is trying to play catch up from what the pandemic did to that (supply chain). … It let everyone know that our food sources could be questionable,” Winstead said.