In conversation with Neil Johnson, Founder & CEO, Provender Partners

Neil Johnson, Founder & CEO, Provender Partners

What are your best-known solutions/products/services?   Provender Partners is a vertically integrated real estate company solely focused on food, i.e. cold storage and food manufacturing.  We have been in business for over 8 years and specialize in bringing second generation buildings to modern standards and / or Build-to-Suit projects (new builds) to market.

Which industry sectors are your customers in, and which ones are growing fastest? One big differentiator for Provender is that we touch all facets of the food world, i.e. cold storage operators, manufacturers of all types such as beverage, meat, fresh fruit & vegetables, ranchers, farmers, food banks, the list goes on.  We like to think that this gives us a unique perspective on the nation’s food demand patterns and how they impact one another.  Currently, we are seeing a disproportionate number of beverage companies launched and / or expanding, this is supported by job growth in that sector.  

What are the major trends and developments affecting your category and your customers, and how are you responding?    Labor is increasingly becoming an issue for food manufacturers, and we spend a lot of time understanding how that might affect the particular use we have targeted for a new building acquisition.  On the cold storage front we are befuddled by the amount of speculative development taking place and would never be a player in that space. 

What’s your strategy for succeeding in the current climate? We continue to focus on the manufacturing space and believe that there is an opportunity to become a large provider of facilities for food manufacturers nationally, we are comfortable financing a larger portion of the infrastructure in these buildings (because we understand it) and this gives us a competitive advantage. 

Can you tell us about any of recent customer contracts and how you helped the customer meet their challenges? We acquired a meat processing plant in the greater Chicago area and began a large renovation which took over a year, because we felt comfortable “speccing” some dollars on improving the basic infrastructure of the building.  It offered the eventual tenant speed to market that was unavailable anywhere else in the country.

What’s the latest news from your company?  Building acquisitions in New Hampshire, Iowa, Salt Lake City in addition to curating a land portfolio across the country for our Build to Suit activities.  

Could you please share your views on Cold Chain sector for our readers?   Generally speaking I would say that the cold chain sector has received a lot of attention from investors and that is creating opportunity for advancement in the space.  For instance, we have developed a solution for future food supply chain disruptions in our Break Bulk Freezer Facility program designed to combat any type of future disruption and assist farmers & food banks.


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