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Turning Up the Heat with Cold Storage Revolution

The road to success is paved with lessons learned. As Doug Bowen and his wife, Candice, sit in the second-floor conference room of Compass Cold Storage – a 143,000-square-foot facility in Mulberry, Arkansas, completed earlier this year – the couple recounts how they got to where they are today.

Woman with brown hair and red shirt

Abby Sanders

Communications Specialist

The Road to Success

It all started at the age of 19 when Doug was deciding his career path. Being the youngest of three siblings, his sisters had set the bar high when it came to college academics. Somehow, Doug knew he was destined for a different career. “I just decided to go a different path. I didn't really know what that path was, just a different path,” Doug remembered.

His father had a trucking company and spent 65 years keeping the interstates hot. For Doug, the logical choice was logistics. Stepping into a role with the family business brought its share of challenges. As with any generational enterprise, there were big shoes to fill.

“Typical family business,” Doug said. “We butted heads, but I’m grateful that it led to this point right here.” At the age of 19, Doug founded Doug’s Produce, and his successful career in logistics began to take shape.

Doug’s Produce trucks are seen in the loading dock at Compass Cold Storage. They are a reminder of Doug’s humble beginnings in logistics.

After obtaining his CDL at 21 and beginning life on the road, another important piece of Doug’s story fell into place – meeting Candice.

“Doug and I met about two weeks before I was going to move out to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to go to dental hygiene school,” Candice recounted. “And long story short, we decided to have a long-distance relationship for about two years.”

The couple now share four children: Demi (12), Bristol (10), Clayton (8), and Tripp (5). Their older children experienced life with a truck-driving dad who had to make a lot of sacrifices when it came to time with family. The time away was part of the reason Doug started to look at how he could be home more.

Build It and They Will Come

Doug spent a lot of “dwell time” loading and unloading at facilities during his tenure as a truck driver. While waiting, he daydreamed about a more efficient way to do things.

“The ‘what if’ led to a couple of questions with producers and manufacturers that we were hauling for,” Doug said. “We referenced the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams a lot in our four-year journey of trying to get this thing funded: If you build it, they will come.”

Compass Cold Storage is an innovative way to do something that has been part of the logistics chain for decades: freeze and store product before it gets to the end consumer. Doug noticed over time that the cold storage facilities he delivered to were using the same technology he saw when visiting those facilities as a kid with his dad.

Currently, there are only a few companies in the world that build cold storage facilities like Compass Cold Storage. “Part of the reason why we partnered with Ti Cold was the blast freeze technology that they bring to the table,” Doug said. As pioneers in the cold storage industry, Ti Cold played a crucial role in bringing Doug’s dream to life.

Compass Cold Storage can freeze products through blast freezing technology in half the time traditional systems require. The product also freezes more evenly and consistently due to the air circulation.

“What the customers like to hear is that the 50-plus hour timer they're used to seeing can now be cut down to about 24 hours or less for poultry. That technology being in this area has been huge,” Doug said.

After freezing the product, they store it on 60-foot-tall shelves where it is labeled and ready when the customer needs it. Doug also takes pride in the facility's minimal dwell times because he understands what it’s like to be the truck driver that comes to facilities like his.

Groundbreaking: Community members, including Farm Credit, took part in the groundbreaking ceremony held April of 2022.

A Hometown Project

Doug is a Crawford County boy through and through. He graduated from Alma High School in 2001 and is a fifth-generation native. Fortunately for Doug and his team, Mulberry is the perfect environment for Compass Cold Storage to thrive.

“Location, location, location,” Mayor Gary Baxter emphasized at the facility’s groundbreaking ceremony. “Interstate 40 connects east coast to west coast and I-49 connects Canada to the Gulf. We also have access to the Arkansas River. Mulberry, Arkansas is the perfect place for this type of facility.”

When Doug and his business partner purchased 180 acres near Mulberry’s industrial park, they recognized the potential for the property, but the exact vision was still coming into focus. A couple of years into owning the land, the idea of a cold storage facility started to take shape.

Mulberry’s proximity to the interstate, central location within the U.S., and lack of traffic made it the perfect backdrop for a hub of commerce.

Today, Compass Cold Storage employs about 35 locals, with phase two of their expansion adding even more positions.

Along with being situated in an ideal location, Doug believes partnering with a hometown lender like Farm Credit is crucial for business success.

“Working with Farm Credit has been an absolutely seamless, easy process. They understand the morals and values of hometown people. And that's what this project is. This is about growing our community and supporting local business.”
Doug Bowen Owner, Compass Cold Storage

Endless Possibilities

“We don't have enough hours in the day to talk about the endless possibilities of what this is,” Doug said when asked about the future of Compass Cold Storage. They began a phase two expansion soon after their April 2022 groundbreaking and still see a demand for their services.

Compass Cold Storage has the potential to branch out into markets such as dairy storage, e-commerce food services, and anything else the Bowens can dream of. Since opening, they have set their eyes on the future and how to meet the never-ending need for cold storage.

Doug and Candice don’t forget to count their blessings when they think of how they got to where they are now.

“When you take one person with a dream that really may not have been qualified for something so big, the Lord qualifies you, and it's with the help of so many people,” Candice said. “It's a team effort.”

The Bowens want to extend a special thanks to their family, their Compass Cold Storage employees, the Doug’s Produce team, Ti Cold, Mayor Gary Baxter, and Farm Credit

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