Great Lakes Cold Storage sees 20% increase in business during pandemic, while keeping Ohio, Pennsylvania fed

Posted at 6:45 AM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 18:23:29-04

SOLON, Ohio — While businesses across much of Ohio and the United States still have workers who are furloughed or are slowly bringing workers back, Great Lakes Cold Storage is actively hiring, and really, never stopped.

Just like everyone else, President and CEO Pat Gorbett expected that business would slow down during the coronavirus outbreak.

Workers at Great Lakes Cold Storage have kept working through the coronavirus to keep food on the shelves at Giant Eagle.

“The exact opposite happened,” said Gorbett. “We’ve actually seen a 20 percent increase.”

Great Lakes Cold Storage helps stock 272 Giant Eagle stores all over Ohio and Pennsylvania. Right now, 148 people are working in Gorbett’s warehouses, keeping frozen goods and ice cream in those stores.

Ice cream sits in cold storage waiting to be delivered to Giant Eagle stores in Ohio.

Even that’s not enough.

“We need about 161 to 165 [workers], maybe more than that,” said Gorbett. “I’d be happy to get more than that.”

Turnover can be high because workers spend much of their day in temperatures as low as negative 5 degrees or negative 20 degrees.

Workers have to be able to work in sub-zero temperatures, often leading to high levels of turnover, meaning the company is constantly hiring.

“It’s hard work in those kind of temperatures,” said Gorbett. “Some people can, some people can’t. We’re looking for the people who can.”

“This job is here and it’s here to stay,” said warehouse worker and mentor Kamar Bennett.

Employees start making more than $16 an hour, with benefits, and extra money available through work incentives.

Frozen lobster waits to be delivered to Giant Eagle stores in Ohio.

Bennett has been at Great Lakes Cold Storage for six years, now showing new hires what’s possible.

“[It gives] them the opportunity to see that these things can happen for them and they can make this place, like I have, a career,” said Bennett.

A career, that doesn’t require a college degree.

Gorbett says he has enough work for up to 175 workers in his warehouse because they've been so busy shipping food to grocery stores.

“Guys that can’t afford to go to college, ladies that can’t afford to go to college, come on in,” said Gorbett. “We’re hiring.”

“From the time [the coronavirus outbreak] began, we were there making sure America eats,” said Bennett. “America has to eat so someone has to supply.”

If you're interested in applying for a job at Great Lakes Cold Storage, click here.

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