Founded in a dairy barn in Pewaukee, Zero-Zone Inc. has grown into a leading manufacturer of refrigerated display cases and refrigeration systems, competing against the three largest industry players.
The North Prairie-based company, which was founded in 1961, operates manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin and Minnesota. In 2002, Zero Zone acquired Minnesota-based Systematic Refrigeration, a manufacturer of refrigerated display cases and high performance refrigeration systems, allowing the company to expand in refrigeration systems.
While the commercial refrigeration industry was down 20 percent in 2009, Zero Zone Inc. had 30 percent revenue growth.
“In previous years, both in 2007 and 2008 we worked diligently with large chain customers to get on the bid lists and we were successful,” said David Morrow, president and chief executive officer of Zero Zone Inc.
“We’ve been able to increase sales because we are a responsive and flexible company in contrast to our competition,” said Carl Petersen, marketing and advertising manager for Zero Zone Inc.
Zero Zone recently introduced the Crystal Merchandiser, an energy efficient replacement for open commercial cases housing pre-packaged food products. “The product has changed the way the product looks but it saves 84 percent annual operating costs and reduces energy for retailers,” Petersen said.
“When someone asks who is most important, it is our employees,” said Morrow. “If we are customer-focused, we have to make sure that our employees care for what they do and that they are in sync together. Then the rest takes care of itself.”
Zero Zone Inc. even offers employees wellness reimbursement for wellness-related expenses, in addition to offering full health benefits. “The employee turnover is low, and we even have a long-term employee retiring after 39-½ years of service, with others in the 20- and 30-year category,” Petersen said.
As a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership, Zero Zone is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the commercial refrigeration industry.
According to Petersen, the company designs its own piping and valves to minimize any possibility of leaks. “The engineering of case design is how we can make this energy efficient for both customers and ourselves in manufacturing and shipping the product,” he said.
Zero Zone was purchased by Milwaukee-based Lubar & Co in February 2006. “We are locally owned, and we are proud to be a Wisconsin-owned business,” Morrow said.
In 2010, the company expanded distribution into Central and South America. Entering its 50th year in business in 2011, Zero Zone’s vision is to be recognized as the premier source for value-added refrigeration solutions in North America.
“We (will) keep up with the growth we are experiencing and hire new people and incorporate them into the Zero Zone way of doing business,” said Morrow. “We are looking to continue to grow organically and have the ability to then jump to the next level of the organization.”
Zero Zone, Inc. Strategic Partner:
Grant Thornton LLP
(414) 289-8200 • www.GrantThornton.com