Building Experiences

Load King
Written by Ryan Cartner

Store development company Load King provides turnkey store packages with all necessary services under one roof. Over the last two years, the company has been intent on improving and expanding internal processes and capabilities by investing in state of the art equipment and personnel training and education. Now, after a great deal of work and investment, Load King is poised to diversify into other market sectors and is aggressively seeking new opportunities.
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“Our future and our focus is moving into other markets, particularly hospitality, entertainment, and retail. We’re not just a food and beverage company anymore,” says Chief Operating Officer Chad Grimm.

Load King’s service covers every facet of store development through four divisions. Store design is managed by LK Architecture; branding through LK Graphics; metal fabrication, precision millwork, and much more through LK Manufacturing; and general contracting through LK Construction.

Through these four divisions, Load King delivers a complete store package carefully tailored to the needs of any brand. The customer chooses the location, and the company manages every other aspect, from the initial design to the delivery of the final product, ready to operate.

“We’re not just selling standard products,” says National Director of Construction and Field Service Jim Hanrahan. “We sell custom configured, brand-specific solutions. Technology is changing at a rapid pace, and we’re ready to change with it. We’ve been very inward-focused in the last few years in preparation for being outward-focused and being able to grow and take on significant additional business.” Throughout its changes, the company has remained on a solid foundation as a family-owned and debt-free entity.

Load King does not subcontract any portion or function of its business, performing and controlling everything in-house. This control enables Load King to reduce cycle times and provide value to our Clients with “speed to market” focus, unmatched in the industry. Everyone involved in a project is working either on-site or within Load King plant operations, resulting in unmatched communication. The company has design, manufacturing, and construction experts on-staff who are capable of managing everything from initial store development to a complete, fully functional, revenue generating operation. While the company’s closest competitors tend to have subject knowledge in one or two areas, and outsource areas of weakness, Load King has invested in raising expertise in all areas to provide a comprehensive plan and management of the entire store development package.

Over the past forty years, Load King has evolved to serve the unique requirements of its clients. Through investment in process improvements and employee training, the company has increased manufacturing productivity to ensure it maintains efficient growth along with customer partnering to quickly react to market demands and trends. This continued investment in automation and training allows Load King to be highly efficient in all phases of the manufacturing process which ultimately results in controlled cost and competitive pricing to customers. These improvements and desire to stay on the cutting edge of technology will result in partnering customers market advantages now and in the future.

Both the food and beverage and retail industries are changing at an incredible pace, trying to reinvent themselves to stay relevant to consumers who are faced with an array of options. Load King simplifies and packages the physical and digital attributes, managed easily on behalf of the brand, and implemented effortlessly by its experts so that the client can concentrate on just operating its businesses.

As a result of recent investments in capital equipment and staff training, Load King is now positioned to expand the turnkey services that it has been successfully providing within the food and beverage industry into new markets such as hospitality, entertainment, and branded retail. For the food and beverage industry, the company has recently expanded into the pizza and chicken fast-food restaurant markets, and it is in the process of engaging with retail and convenience stores as well. The company is now structured so that expansion into these markets is seamless and can be effectively managed with a well-trained and talented workforce.

Load King is always looking to improve the efficiency of its design, manufacturing, and construction processes. “We’ve been successful in reducing our design for manufacturing time,” says Hanrahan. “This allows the opportunity for us to be more agile with custom designs which help our brands stand out from competition by being unique and offering different experiences.”

As a part of Load King’s recent internal improvements, the company has been refining its quality control processes toward achieving an ISO9001 certification. To qualify, the company has defined a comprehensive set of quality standards specific to its product line and manufacturing processes. Load King is on track to have all quality standards defined by year-end, with the goal of receiving certification by early to mid-2019.

One of Load King’s major customers had previously been sending in quality specialists to audit its manufacturing processes every two or three years. By earning an ISO9001 certification, Load King can receive the benefits of continual process analysis without its customer having to spend those resources for on-site audits and process verifications. Although customers have seen quality products throughout their relationships with Load King, the auditing process provides added confidence that problems would not arise, and the ISO9001 certification will do the same.

“When we learned that the certification would satisfy that brand and their needs, we started looking into it,” says Grimm. “We quickly realized it would be a great management opportunity for us. By putting in place ISO9001, we are already seeing improved operational flow, consistency, and reliability, which translates into more capacity to be able to serve our customers. Traditionally, a newly-designed three hundred square foot kiosk would take two weeks to build the first prototype and work through new details. By comparison, we recently completed one in three days.”

Through these process enhancements, every department’s management team is operating by the same set of standards, creating efficiency across the entire company, which, in turn, leads to more time for product innovation. “Load King’s focus is shifting from inward to outward,” says Grimm, “where we can once again adapt to the market, leading innovation, and offerings within the food and beverage, retail, and other entertainment markets. A higher concentration on digital engagement will be our future.” For two years the company has been preparing and now it is ready to attack the market and grow.

Load King has made drastic improvements recently, and it has depended heavily on its workforce’s ability to adapt to the changes. The company believes in providing growth opportunities and training, both internal and external, to help employees achieve their ambitions. “We understand that the right employee translates to a proper relationship with our customers,” says Grimm.

All forty-five members of the company’s leadership recently engaged in a company-wide training seminar with the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS), the nation’s leading supply chain management organization, and it is scheduled to continue with the second session in the next few months. “When you can equally engage and put trust into the entire leadership team,” says Grimm, “then they naturally want to exceed expectations.”

“But most importantly, we can’t achieve these differentiators without trust. Trust is not often an easy thing to fully reach with customers. Our success is through unquestioned trust and honesty with our customers, and this trust works both ways. Not just our partners trust in us but our trust in them.”

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