UW-Stout News Story

CEO credits university for giving him strong foundation

October 31, 2012

William Hendricksen hasn’t forgotten his sometimes wild and crazy days as an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

He recalls going from swimming class at Johnson Fieldhouse to Harvey Hall, nearly a half-mile, as icicles formed on his wet hair. There were the nights he and friends anxiously watched the Vietnam War draft on TV in their residence hall to see if their numbers would be called; his wasn’t. He once persuaded a farmer to lend UW-Stout a horse for a special event, an early test of his salesmanship skills.

He also remembers that he wasn’t a great high school student. He was admitted to UW-Stout in 1970 on academic probation. For that he thanks his alma mater. “Stout gave me a chance and gave me the foundation that I needed to really succeed in life,” he said.

William HendricksenSucceed he has. Nearly 40 years after graduating, Hendricksen is CEO of Lineage Logistics, North America’s third largest logistics and temperature-controlled warehousing company. Lineage has 65 facilities in 11 states with more than 14 million square feet, and it’s looking to expand.

Hendricksen spoke recently and met with students and faculty at UW-Stout as the Cabot Executive in Residence, an annual program sponsored by the College of Management.

A hotel and restaurant management major, Hendricksen didn’t end up with the career he envisioned, although he’s not far off track. Lineage Logistics is in the food business. It handles perishables such as fish, fruits, vegetables, pork, chicken, beer and peanuts. Corporate clients include WalMart, Dole and Mars, the maker of M&M candies. Lineage Logistics handles brands that are in virtually every U.S. home.

His company mainly stores and trucks products for corporate clients, but it also has food processing services and an engineering team that designs buildings for clients. In 2011 it stored 14.5 billion pounds of food, filled 4.5 million orders and shipped 485,000 truckloads of products.

What’s the secret to Hendricksen’s and his company’s success? He cited their core values, which are the same: Integrity, commitment and service. “That’s why we’ve been able to grow, because we’ve stuck to our core values,” he said. “Our core values have resonated with the customers.”

A native of Kenosha, Hendricksen’s first job after graduating from UW-Stout in 1974 was with Sky Chefs, the airline industry caterer. He opened his first cold storage business in 1979 in Riverside, Calif., securing a loan although he had almost no collateral.

His integrity rose to the surface in 1992, when a fire destroyed his warehouse in California. Hendricksen’s company, Inland Cold Storage, nearly went out of business. “I was determined to survive it. I wanted to protect my reputation,” Hendricksen said.

Then he found a new partner, who invested $50 million. The partner trusted Hendricksen, saying he was impressed with Hendricksen’s decision to pay off his debts rather than file for bankruptcy.

Hendricksen’s growing company merged in 2008 with another company, involving the owner of Dole Foods. Then, another merger this year resulted in the creation of Lineage Logistics, based in Colton, Calif. Hendricksen was named CEO.

“Our vision is to build a global perishable food supply chain company,” Hendricksen said, noting plans to go to Brazil this year, China next year and then Europe. Lineage Logistics is positioned for that type of growth with portside warehouses in Savannah, Ga., Norfolk, Va., and Seattle.

Bill Kryshak, chair of the UW-Stout business department, was impressed with Hendricksen as a person. “I asked him if, through the ups and downs, he ever had to let go of any employees. He said no, and the first employee that ever worked for him still works for the company. That’s really a tribute to his leadership,” Kryshak said.

Hendricksen said UW-Stout was “fantastic at preparing me to get out in the real world.” He told UW-Stout students at his presentation to develop critical thinking skills, take internships, have a passion, read, continue to learn throughout their lives and “love what you do.”

Hendricksen joined the Stout University Foundation board this fall. He also serves on the boards for Salvation Army, Agriwise, National Drivers Accountability Program and World Food Logistics Organization.

The Arthur R. Cabot Executive Residency program was established to honor Arthur R. Cabot, a successful pet products manufacturer. His son, Scott, is a 1978 UW-Stout graduate and is president of Vanguard Consulting Group, Deerfield, Ill.

For more information on the UW-Stout College of Management, click here.

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