Kool Pak and CompSAFE
Working to keep employees safe and on the job
When a Kool Pak driver hurt his shoulder, the company and SAIF wanted to make sure his 30 years of experience didn’t go to waste. While handling his workers’ compensation claim, SAIF and Kool Pak partnered to find a new place for him in the company. They created a job in the safety division where his expertise behind the wheel could benefit other drivers.
“A driver with 30 years’ experience carries a lot more authority when talking with drivers,” said Wade Palmer, Kool Pak CFO and COO. “He worked closely with our safety department talking and speaking with our drivers, coaching them on safe driving techniques.”
Working together to find the best solutions for their employees is what Kool Pak values most about its relationship with SAIF.
The Lake Oswego, Ore., based company delivers and stores cold grocery items for local, national and international distribution. It has been with SAIF, Oregon’s largest workers compensation carrier, for more than 25 years and an OBI member since 2011. Through OBI, Kool Pak took advantage of access to group-rate discounts for workers’ compensation insurance with the CompSAFE program.
“They were the best of the best,” Palmer said, noting SAIF had the finest service at the lowest cost.
Aside from handling workers’ compensation claims, Palmer said SAIF’s array of services are highly useful, including informational videos, tools to help workers’ comp and safety plans, and opportunities for Kool Pak to meet with other members of the same industry to share safety strategies.
Kool Pak works to ensure its safety plans are thorough and consistent for the benefit of all employees. If there is a need for adjustments, SAIF can help Kool Pak do that.
“If there’s a chink in our armor,” he said, “we can make certain that we patch that.”
Jose Barraza, terminal manager at Kool Pak’s facility in Clackamas, Ore., said workers emphasize safety every day, from wearing reflective vests and hard hats, to buckling seatbelts in forklifts, to using horns to announce when they are entering or leaving areas of the warehouse. They also watch training videos monthly and regularly review safety procedures.
“It’s important because we are using big machines,” he said.
Kool Pak’s history
Kool Pak stemmed from Ness Holding Company, which Arthur Ness founded in 1939 with $50 in his pocket.
“He started with a wagon and an idea. It grew from there,” Palmer said. “Food has always been very important in everybody’s lives and getting it from Point A to Point B has always been very important as well.”
The company remains family owned to this day. Second-generation Bud Ness took over in 1945, and third-generation Steve Ness took over in 1980. Steve Ness bought it in 1986.
Ness Holding Company covered many sectors – including hauling and brokering, delivering for major companies like Tillamook dairy and Jimmy Dean sausage – and even producing tortillas and pasta. Steve Ness bought Kool Pak from its original owner, Paul Harris, who had been operating out of a Ness facility. Over time, Steve Ness sold different parts of his company, paring down to just Kool Pak today.
“He kept the transportation company because he saw a need in the marketplace,” Palmer said.
But Kool Pak is no small operation. It includes five warehouses of frozen and chilled storage up and down the West Coast – Portland, Seattle, the Bay Area, Ontario, Calif., and Vancouver, British Columbia. More than 200 employees pick up and deliver food from manufacturers to grocery warehouses and store it in between. Delivery is not restricted to the West Coast, as drivers travel all across the country and into Canada.
Today Kool Pak specializes in temperature-controlled LTL shipping: less than truckload. Anyone can ship a full truck of one commodity, Palmer said. It takes specialization to meet the needs of a specific item for a specific company, or several companies. Kool Pak and its employees put in the effort to ensure the product arrives on time, on temperature and in perfect condition. Kool Pak prides itself in its dedicated, expert service.
“It’s worry-free,” Palmer said. “We pick it up, we deliver it. We deliver on temperature. We deliver it when you want it to be delivered. That’s what we do.”
Working in such a specialized niche, and working with clients for years or generations, means Kool Pak remains a close-knit company. It provides a family wage and gets involved in the communities it serves. Kool Pak drivers have the freedom to drive across country while making a good living and supporting their families.
“It’s like working with family,” Barraza, the Clackamas terminal manager, said. “I’ve been working with the company for 13 years. The company always helps me with any problem and normally that’s what we do for every single employee that works with us here.”
Kool Pak cares about its employees and wants to keep them safe. If they are injured, the company wants to get them back to work as quickly as possible for their own recovery and to support their families.
“We want moms and dads to go home to their kids, or to their brothers, sisters, wives, spouses, each day,” Palmer said. “Safe.”