SIOUX CITY -- After decades at a site along Business Highway 75, Keizer Refrigeration, Inc., moved last year into a new facility in Sioux City's Bridgeport industrial area.
Keizer opened on July 30 a 55,000-square-foot facility at 5220 Harbor Drive, eight miles to the south of its previous location in the 3200 block of Highway 75.
Mike Wooster, operations manager at Keizer, said the firm had outgrown its previous site, where employees were divided into separate buildings and some parts storage was located outside.
"We had sales people in one building, service and parts in another. As time went on, we had to push service into both buildings, scattered parts between two buildings," Wooster said in an interview last summer. "So now we're all under one roof, which made a big improvement."
The company was founded by the late Jim and Jackie Keizer in 1976. Jim began working on refrigeration units at truck stops and businesses out of the back of his pickup truck, with a tool chest borrowed from his father.
"He started a one-man show," current Keizer president Shane Keizer said of his father.
The business expanded to include operations Sioux City, Sioux Falls, Omaha and Des Moines. The company purchased the Mid-States Utility Trailer Sales in 2001.
The Sioux City Keizer's site now has 57 employees, and is the largest in the fleet.
Most everything is bigger and better at the new building, from the break room to the conference room to the parts storage room. The expanded service department now has 18 bays, compared to 10 at the old facility, and the outdoor lot has room for 300 trailers.
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Katerina Pickup, a marketing coordinator for Mid-States Utility Trailer Sales, said that one of the best parts of the new location is how visible it is to travelers along Interstate 29 who sometimes stop by when they see a trailer they're interested in.
"That's great exposure for us," she said.
Keizer's previous location once had similarly high traffic, but over the years Highway 75 became far less busy, which meant fewer customers seeing the business from the road.
Where before they had too many people for the space, Keizer now has room for growth and is faced with a tight labor market.
"Everybody's looking for people," Keizer said. "If we could have five, six, eight more technicians right now, it would be great."
Demand for Keizer's refrigerated trailers has been very high, Keizer said. Semi trucks are somewhat like the arteries (or perhaps the muscles) of the economy -- when things are going well and demand is growing, the nation's truck lines become bigger and busier.
It's hard to overstate how important semi trucks are to the economy, Wooster said -- it would be impossible to get lettuce from California to Iowa, or to get beef from Iowa to New York, without refrigerated semitrailers.
"Anytime you see a truck on the road, they're hauling anything you use in the day," Wooster said. "This building was built by materials brought here on trucks."